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Sri Lankan president pardons man convicted of attempting to assassinate him

President Maithripala Sirisena has set free a man accused of plotting to kill him. The man, who was purportedly affiliated with the Tamil Tiger rebel group, had been in custody for a decade.

Sirisena granted the man amnesty at a ceremony held in Colombo on Friday to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the president's election.

The man, Sivaraja Jenivan, was arrested in 2006 for allegedly aiding a member of the Tamil Tigers rebel group in an attempt to kill Sirisena a year earlier. The president posted a photo of him standing alongside Jenivan on Twitter on Friday.

Though detained for nearly a decade, Jenivan was only convicted in 2015. He was one year into a 10-year jail term.

Ban praises Sirisena

Sirisena said he took into account the fact that Jenivan had already served a decade in prison when making the decision to release him.

The president drew praise from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who congratulated the leader and his country on their first year of political transition and called on Sirisena to move forward with the reconciliation process.

"The Secretary-General supports the Government's efforts to advance a nation-wide dialogue to achieve a long-term political settlement acceptable to all," a UN statement said. "In this regard, he welcomes the Government's announcement to commence constitutional reform. He calls on all stakeholders to cooperate in a spirit of inclusion and good faith."

A fragile peace

The UN chief also reiterated his commitment to maintaining a long-term peace in the country.

The president is largely credited for restoring peace to Sri Lanka, which was embroiled in a 37-year-long civil war between his majority Sinhalese community and the island nation's Tamil and Muslim minorities. Around 100,000 died in the fighting, which only ended in 2009 after the Tamil Tigers were defeated.

Among the steps Sirisena has taken to promote reconciliation in the formerly war-torn country is the distribution of aid to those suspected of having aided the Tamil rebels.

blc/msh (AFP, AP)

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