Sri Lanka’s weak rule of law alarming for economy: World Bank

Nov 1, 2007 (AFP) – A top World Bank official on Thursday urged Sri Lanka to cut a political deal with Tamil rebels to help spur economic growth which has been hit by an “alarming” disregard for the rule of law.

“The conflict remains a major obstacle to Sri Lanka achieving its full potential,” the World Bank’s Managing Director Graeme Wheeler said after meeting community leaders in Sri Lanka.

Wheeler said the community leaders told him numerous stories of unlawful killings and disappearances linked to more than three decades of bloodshed between Sri Lankan troops and Tamil rebels. Human rights groups regularly accuse both sides of abductions, murder and torture.

“The large number of reported killings, abductions and disappearances and weakness in the rule of law are alarming,” Wheeler said.

“I would like to emphasize the vital need to seek a political solution to the conflict as soon as possible,” he told reporters here at the end of his two-day visit to inspect some of the 480 million dollars of projects supported by the World Bank in Sri Lanka.

Renewed violence since 2005 has also slowed the 26-billion-dollar economy, with the Central Bank lowering its 2007 year-end growth forecast to 6