Sri Lanka's new president, Maithripala Sirisena, was sworn in on Friday 9 January 2015 after the incumbent Mahinda Rajapaksa conceded defeat to his former political ally and health minister. The poll which has been described as the most significant election in decades, put an end to Rajapaksa's decade-long rule, which critics say had been marked by increasing authoritarianism, corruption and nepotism.
Sirisena's new government has already pledged to stop blocking websites, end intimidation of the media and reopen an investigation into the murder of a high-profile journalist.
As some measures began being implemented, hope was expressed in this tweet by Sri Lankan journalist and human rights defender Sunanda Deshapriya, currently based in Geneva.
Tamil Net unblocked in #SriLanka almost after a decade; Internet censorship is over, it seems #lka @FMMsrilanka @cpjasia @ifjasiapacific— sunanda deshapriya (@sunandadesh) January 13, 2015
IFEX members and press freedom advocates have welcomed promises that press freedom in Sri Lanka will improve, albeit with some caution - and they have put forth recommendations for the new government to consider if it wishes to distance itself from the repressive press environment emblematic of Rajapaksa's reign.
On 16 December 2014, the Free Media Movement (FMM) submitted short term proposals for re-establishing freedom of expression rights in the country to the opposition and then presidential candidate Sirisena.
The International Federation of Journalists expressed hope that the FMM's media reform proposals would be quickly taken into account and it highlighted the problem of impunity in the country.
The International Press Institute welcomed the proposed changes but commented that some observers remain wary. It spoke by email about the latest developments with Sri Lankan journalist Uvindu Kurukulasuriya, founder and editor of online newspaper The Colombo Telegraph, who has been living in exile since 2009.
Like IPI, the Committee to Protect Journalists expressed caution, questioning "what changes, if any, will come for press freedom in a country that had grown deeply repressive under the previous leadership."