Elections, Politics and Governance

Sri Lanka awaits a change

The present President of Sri Lanka, who consolidated his power after defeating the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) militarily, has spurned the pledges of ‘Mahinda Chinthana’ manifesto of the 2005 presidential elections. Now he is working mainly for the ambitions of his family, completely overlooking the common masses. While corruption and nepotism reign, people’s democratic rights including press freedom are being curtailed. No plan of action has been underway even to reduce the rising cost of living.

Having brought the present President to power, the southern polity tolerated the unbearable cost of living and even sacrificed lives of their own children. With the end of the war, they expected reduction of cost of living, solutions to their other socio-economic problems and development of the country would advance. They deemed that unprecedented prospects would open up for this to happen. However, there are no signs of fulfilling these expectations on the horizon. On the other hand, Tamil people expected a fair political outcome through the ‘All Party’ Representative Committee.

The President has ruined all these hopes.

While uttering falsehoods about imperialist conspiracies to mislead people, the President has joined hands with anti-democratic rulers despised by the civilized world. This phenomenon will have dire effects on the future, the economy and the peaceful environment of the country.

During the past three years, 34 journalists and media workers were assassinated; and ten journalists were kidnapped. Thissainayagam is still being held behind bars. Over 50 journalists live in self-exile for protecting their lives from torture and assassination.

The President has been boasting about a labour convention for a long time. However, he tried to brand all those who demanded their rights, including teachers, railway, electricity and port workers and public servants as traitors. Local industries including textile industry have slumped while unemployment has risen due to the un-futuristic foreign policy of the corrupt rule, based on maintaining an unbearably large ministry.

While the rule of law in the country has completely collapsed, the police, armed forces, gangs of thugs and state media are manipulated for political gains.

The common candidate put forward by the opposition to defeat the present President has undertaken numerous pledges such as, to abolish executive presidential powers, to restore democracy, to eradicate corruption, terror and family bandyism. There is no doubt that people, seasoned with the broken pledges of the politicians, will review these promises cautiously. The abolition of the executive presidency is not a panacea to redress all the woes of the country. Even the political parties that are backing the common candidate have taken contradictory policy positions regarding these issues. A transitional need of the day is to form a democratic framework that would allow mobilisation and exertion of pressure to resolve these issues.

  • Moving towards such a transitional state is considered possible because of the following facts:For the first time in the election history of the island, a person, who does not hold the membership of a political party has come forward as a common presidential candidate;
  • This common candidate, once in power, will need to collaboratively work with peoples’ representatives within and without the Parliament;
  • The forces who value democracy are increasingly rallying round this common candidate;
  • Those who adopted the current constitution have come forward to change it; and
  • All those who support this common candidate have agreed to transfer executive powers to the Parliament.

To utilise this opportunity to make such transitional status effective, all democratic and progressive forces need to mobilise together. People’s achievements will be decided only by the strength and vigor of such social set up. This is an unending struggle. We should not forget the experiences we have gained since 1948 on building people’s power.

Therefore, all citizens of Sri Lanka need to come forward to defeat the present anti-people rule and to build people’s power.

The alternatives we have will only allow the anti-people and corrupt rule to consolidate its power. We strongly believe that such consolidation, under the current circumstances, will cause irreversible devastating consequences to all communities.

Despite the statements of leftist leaders contesting the presidential election on what they believe to be theoretically correct, it is clear that they have failed to create the much needed practicality or the attraction to mobilize a people’s force.

If this situation is considered to be a danger to our country’s future, to our economy and to our future generations, then there should be a regime change in the country.

This opportunity is a decisive one to win back the democratic rights we are deprived of. On this occasion we all have a serious responsibility to fulfill.

The aforementioned matters should be taken into consideration in order to prudently and conscientiously exercise the vote to elect the next President in the upcoming presidential election.