Harim Peiris

Political and Reconciliation perspectives from Sri Lanka

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President Sirisena repudiates Mahinda Rajapakse as UPFA prepares for a second defeat

Posted by harimpeiris on July 20, 2015

President Sirisena repudiates Mahinda Rajapakse as UPFA prepares for a second defeat

By Harim Peiris

 

(Published in the Island of 17th July 2015)

 

In a widely viewed televised address to the nation after the close of nominations for the parliamentary elections, President Maithripala Sirisena, repudiated any political rapprochement or partnership with defeated President Mahinda Rajapakse, whom he probably correctly predicted would lead the UPFA to a second ignoble defeat in six months, having been defeated by President Sirisena, at the start of the year and accordingly needs to be recognized as defeated President Rajapakse, to differentiate from retired President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga. Mahinda Rajapakse has the ignominy of being the only executive president of Sri Lanka, who was shown the door, by the sovereign people of Sri Lanka.

The SLFP parliamentary leadership, like puppets on a string, in the hands of the UPFA political lightweight, small party, gang of four, namely Dinesh, Wimal, Vasu and Udaya, whose politically orphaned state and barely concealed racism required, hanging on the scarlet shawl of Rajapakase, misled the SLFP to refuse the opportunity of beginning a new journey with President Sirisena and leaving behind its checked and now discredited past of a corrupt and authoritarian rule.

President Sirisena was scathing in his criticism of defeated President Rajapakse and his misguided attempt at an electoral comeback. He correctly observed that Mahinda Rajapakse had removed term limits on the presidency, so he can rule for life and fortunately, the people of Sri Lanka had other ideas. Now Mahinda Rajapakse refuses to hand over the baton to the next level of SLFP leadership and is instead trying the equivalent of a rematch, hoping for a different result to what was achieved in January.

That fantasy of reversing the January election loss will not happen, as none other than President Maithripala Sirisena confidentially predicted. In January, besides the abuse of the entire state machinery at his disposal, Rajapakse and the UPFA lost. This time around there will be no state resources to abuse, though a portion of alleged ill gotten gains would have to be used for the campaign. Given the estimated size of the loot stash in Dubai, Seychelles and who knows where else, funding the campaign is the least of the Rajapakse worries. But in January a significant part of the floating voters supported Rajapakse, based on the local level propensity to support the likely winner. This time around, not even the Rajapakse astrologers, that discredited bunch of magic diviners, are likely to be predicting his victory.

The politically educated voter will not elect a Prime Minister hostile to President Sirisena   

 

Sri Lanka, is a highly politicized society. With our high literacy rate, we have also a highly politically literate citizenry, which can and does deal with political issues. It is to the credit of the Sri Lankan voter, in January this year, they opted for a democratic state, over a Chinese style developmental state, sans real democracy. The white vans, the judicial impeachments, the corruption, the nepotism and dynastic project were all rejected by the people, in a quiet, poster less campaign by the National Democratic Front (NDF). Now the political mantle and much of the NDF rainbow coalition is within the UNP led UNFGG or United National Front for Good Governance. The UNFGG is also really an amazing rainbow coalition with the JHU on the one side and the Muslim and other minority parties on the other end with the UNP at the political center. It would have to be a particular glutton for punishment, even in the Sinhala rural electorates, where the UPFA is placing its entire hope on, who would want a return of Rajapakse rule. Actually what one would have if the UPFA wins a majority, is gross political instability, with a Prime Minster hostile to President Sirisena and indeed trying to get rid of him.

President Sirisena’s vision for the future

 

President Sirisena in his address to the nation, frequently referred to his manifesto, its attendant mandate and his compact with the people. As the President quite correctly observed the reform program in his manifesto was not one limited to one hundred days, but a reform program for five years. This includes the Right to Information Act, which really should begin by televising parliamentary proceedings, another progressive step, stopped by the reactionary UPFA and a complete overhaul of government procument and the tender system, through a proposed National Audit Act. The president promised to be neutral in the parliamentary election and basically requested the country to give him a Parliament that would support his vision and manifesto which had been mandated by the people.

The electorate once again in six months has a stark choice. Does it roll back the clock and retreat to a corrupt and authoritarian past with a Rajapakse led UPFA or does it travel on the journey of state reform and good governance under President Sirisena as advocated and promised by the UNP led United National Front.

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