Friday, December 04, 2009

Hope despite downturn in Sri Lanka

The number of Sri Lankans who think their economy is improving jumped 28 percent to 64 percent, a national opinion poll indicated Thursday.

But the optimism is likely spurred by heightened expectations after the end of a decades-long civil war, rather than by improving economic conditions, the Gallup Organization said in describing the poll results.

Economic growth has slowed considerably in Sri Lanka, to a projected 3.5 percent this year from 6 percent in 2008, Gallup said.

The civil war was declared over May 18 after 26 years of violence between the Sinhalese majority government and ethnic minority Tamil Tiger rebels. The rebels had fought to carve out a homeland for Tamils, which the government opposed.

The conflict had hinged on political rights of the Tamil minority.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa last week called a presidential election for January. The former chief of Sri Lanka's army, retired Gen. Sarath Fonseka, announced Sunday he would challenge Rajapaksa for the post, calling his former ally "a tin-pot dictator."

Confidence in Sri Lanka's government increased nationally to 92 percent from 72 percent a year earlier, the Gallup poll indicated. Confidence in Sri Lanka's military rose to 95 percent from 92 percent.

Gallup's results are based on face-to-face interviews with 1,000 adults, age 15 and older, in May. The margin of error is 3.3 percentage points to 4.1 percentage points, Gallup said.

© United Press International

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