Rajavarothiam Sampanthan, a Tamil lawmaker became leader of the opposition in Sri Lanka’s parliament for the first time in 32 years. The 82-year-old moderate heads the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), which emerged from last month’s election as the third-largest force with 16 seats in the 225-member assembly. The minority Tamils have alleged persecution by the government since the uprising of Tamil Tiger separatists three decades ago.
Sampanthan is a lawyer who was first elected to the parliament in 1977. His party, the former political proxy of the Tamil Tiger insurgents, backed Maithripala Sirisena in the January presidential elections, defeating Rajapaksa, who ordered the offensive that ended the Tamil insurgency in 2009.
The United Nations last year passed a resolution calling for an international inquiry into the alleged human rights abuses. The outcome of that investigation will be released at the U.N. Human Rights Council session soon.
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