Chandrika Kumaratunga, the former president of Sri Lanka, painted a sobering picture of an island nation recovering from civil war during a talk at CGIS yesterday. Kumaratunga, who led Sri Lanka from 1994 to 2005, described her administration’s unsuccessful attempts to resolve through peaceful negotiations the long-standing conflict between Sri Lanka’s majority Sinhalese and minority Tamil populations. Sri Lanka’s first female president attributed the challenge in part to a “mentality of siege” that has become entrenched in the psyche of the Sri Lankan people. “For 2000 years we were a very strong nation ... but we underwent nearly 500 years of Western colonial rule and were completely subjugated for 450 years,” she said. This, she argued, helps explain why war, not peace, has held the day.