Lanka’s electoral test
By Unknown - Wed Sep 25, 6:32 am
With presidential polls in Sri Lanka scheduled later this year, internal security is one domain that is going to be on the minds of citizens
The space for presidential contenders in Sri Lanka’s election on November 16 is crowding. The hopefuls are from the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP), the breakaway faction of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP)’s Anura Kumara Dissanayaka and United National Party (UNP)’s leaders — Ranil Wickremesinghe; deputy leader, Sajith Premadasa; Speaker of Parliament Karu Jayasuriya — and even Democratic Party leader Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka, who fought and lost to Mahinda Rajapaksa in 2009. Tomorrow’s secret ballot will determine the UNP candidate. The bets are on the youthful Premadasa to give a fight to Gota, former Army Colonel and Defence Secretary under his brother Mahinda Rajapaksa, who was the key architect of victory over the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). His image as a do-er/disciplinarian under the shadow of 21/4 Easter Sunday bombings makes him electable. The most striking headline of a possible outcome of an election is Rajapaksa redux and democracy in peril.
At present, national security tops the election agenda, which includes the fragile economy, abolition of the executive presidency and arresting and rolling back the anger against Muslims. Like in previous elections, the vote of the minorities — Christians, Muslims and Tamils — will be the clincher. In the last elections, a unity candidate of the SLFP and UNP, incumbent President Maithripala Sirisena defeated Mahinda Rajapaksa. This time around, a grand alliance is unlikely….