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South Africa’s deputy president visits Sri Lanka

July 7, 2014

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — South Africa’s deputy president and special envoy to Sri Lanka arrived in the country Monday in an apparent bid to broker the resumption of power-sharing talks between the government and ethnic Tamil leaders.

Cyril Ramaphosa, named special envoy by South African President Jacob Zuma, met with Foreign Minister Gamini Peiris, according to the ministry. He’s scheduled to meet with President Mahinda Rajapaksa and ethnic Tamil leaders during his two-day visit.

Sri Lanka and South Africa have been silent on the purpose of Ramaphosa’s trip, though media reports say he’s expected to try to persuade the government and Tamil political leaders to discuss power sharing in the Tamil-majority Northern Province.

Government and Tamil leaders have previously visited South Africa to study the country’s post-apartheid truth commission.

Rajapaksa’s government is accused of reneging on its promises to share power with ethnic minority Tamils since militarily defeating Tamil rebels five years ago. The civil war from 1983-2009 ended in carnage with both the government and Tamil Tiger rebels accused of perpetrating serious human rights violations.

According to a U.N report, tens of thousands of Tamil civilians may have been killed in just the final months of the fighting.

The U.N. human rights chief last month appointed a three-member panel to advise an ongoing investigation looking into possible war crimes.

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