When Sirisena trounced Rajapaksa (January) When Wickremesinghe visited India (September) UNHRC recommends probe into war crimes in Sri Lanka-LTTE battle (October)
Sri Lanka witnessed a huge political change in the beginning of this year when Sirisena trounced Rajapaksa in the January 8 presidential race, ending his 10-year-rule. Just after the elections, Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera visited New Delhi on January 18.
In a significant gesture signalling the change of stance, Sirisena chose India for his first overseas visit after assuming office.
Sirisena's first foreign visit to India (February)
Sirisena's visit to India was seen by many experts as a shift in Sri Lanka's orientation towards the US and India, and away from China with which his predecessor Rajapaksa had developed close ties.
Four bilateral agreements were signed during Sirisena's visit with the most significant being a civil nuclear cooperation pact which Prime Minister Narendra Modi described as "another demonstration of our mutual trust". It was the first such deal signed by Sri Lanka with any foreign country.
PM Modi's first visit to Sri Lanka (March)
PM Modi toured Sri Lanka in March on the invitation of Sirisena, becoming the first Indian Prime Minister to visit the country after Rajiv Gandhi in 1987. By travelling to Jaffna, Modi became the first Indian Prime Minister and the third Indian leader to visit the Tamil-dominated former war-zone, after Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru.
Modi appeared to strike just the right chord with the Tamils in Jaffna. He underlined the need to go beyond the Thirteenth Amendment on devolution of powers in order to politically empower Tamils in the north. He told the main Tamil party Tamil National Alliance that it should help that change takes place and not derail the process.
PM Modi also raised contentious issues with the government, including the release of Tamil political prisoners and returning the civilian lands used for military purposes. During his visit here, Modi inaugurated the reconstructed Northern Province railway line as part of India's promise on infrastructure development in the war-ravaged north.
India's stand on Human Rights violation against Sri Lanka (March)
On the domestic front, the new government successfully allayed concerns of the West, more particularly the US. In a significant development, India for the first time abstained from voting on the US-sponsored resolution against Sri Lanka in March on alleged human rights violation.
This was for the first time since 2009 that India abstained from the voting on the resolution. All three times- 2009, 2012 and 2013 -- India voted in favour of the resolution. There was also a flurry of high-ranking US visits to Sri Lanka beginning from Secretary of State John Kerry's trip in May.
Rajapaksa's second defeat by Ranil Wickremesinghe (August)
Rajapaksa in August tried to stage a dramatic comeback as prime minister months after being defeated as president as Sri Lankans voted to elect a 225-member Parliament. However, Rajapaksa's hopes were dashed as Ranil Wickremesinghe's United National Party (UNP) won a closely-fought election to form a national unity government.
In September, Wickremesinghe also chose India to be his first overseas destination after being elected to office. During his visit, the two nations held extensive talks on the sticky fishermen issue, ensuring justice to Tamils and ways to deepen trade and defence engagements besides resolving to intensify cooperation in combating terror and securing the maritime neighbourhood.
In October, the UN Human Rights Council unanimously recommended a credible probe involving foreign judges and prosecutors into alleged war crimes in Sri Lanka's battle
against the LTTE, a resolution which was surprisingly co-sponsored by Colombo despite its strong reservations.
Yet observers believe delivering the international expectations on accountability to human rights abuses would not be an easy task for the new administration.
The Sirisena-Wickremesinghe led government of two opposing Sinhala majority parties has to meet international expectations, keep the nationalists led by the Rajapaksa clan at bay, perform economic growth and above all set in democratic and constitutional reforms.
When dragon came in between India and Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka's new leadership seemed to address India's security sensitivities around Colombo's closer ties with China. Sirisena's predecessor Rajapaksa had allowed two Chinese submarines to dock in Sri Lanka in 2014 much to the discomfort of India.
Sirisena has also tackled some controversial foreign investments. Plans to build huge casinos were scrapped. The Colombo Port City project, awarded to Chinese companies, was also put under review.
Good news for the Sri Lankan Tamils
The new administration also took some important steps towards reconciliation with the Tamil community, including lifting of travel restrictions to the north, release of civilian lands and granting bail to long-held suspects for involvement with the LTTE.
There are plans to establish an independent domestic truth and reconciliation commission to examine atrocities committed during the three-decade-long civil war, as well as to compensate victims. But this still remains a contentious issue.
When Sirisena trounced Rajapaksa (January)
When Wickremesinghe visited India (September)
UNHRC recommends probe into war crimes in Sri Lanka-LTTE battle (October)