Sri Lanka's new president has replaced an ex-military with a civilian governor in the Tamil-controlled north in a sign of improving ties with the ethnic minority following the end of the civil war.

The Tamil-controlled provincial administration of the Northern Province has long accused the outgoing governor, retired Maj. Gen. G.A Chandrasiri, of preventing them from functioning freely and running a parallel local government.

President Maithripala Sirisena, who defeated a hard-line incumbent in January elections, announced the appointment of H.M.G.S. Palihakkara as a new governor on his website Wednesday.

Sri Lankan troops defeated Tamil separatist rebels in 2009 after a 25-year civil war, but the government has not fulfilled its promise for regional autonomy.