Sri Lanka`s president announced Thursday the withdrawal of wartime emergency laws under which the country has been ruled for most of the past 30 years.
Parliament has extended the laws every month, but President Mahinda Rajapaksa told the legislature there is no longer a need for them because separatist Tamil Tiger rebels were defeated more than two years ago.
`Today I propose to this assembly the withdrawal of the emergency laws to enable the country to conduct its affairs through its normal laws and in a democratic manner,` Rajapaksa said. `I do this because I am satisfied that we no longer need emergency laws for our governance.`
The island has been under a state of emergency since 1979 except for brief periods when it was allowed to lapse to help peace talks between the government and rebels.
The government has been under intense international pressure to end the state of emergency. Human rights groups have accused authorities of using its provisions to crack down on the media and restrict freedom of speech despite the end of the war.
Sri Lankan forces defeated the Tamil Tiger rebels in May 2009, ending a 26-year civil war aimed at creating an independent state for ethnic minority Tamils.
The United Nations says 80,000 to 100,000 people were killed in the conflict.