Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Sri Lanka President Election 2010: Will Peace Come at Last?

The result of Presidential election 2010 of Sri Lanka has been announced less than one hour ago. According to the official result, the current president Mahinda Rajapaksa has become the winner by securing nearly 60% of the votes. His main opponent was General Sarath Fonseka who got nearly 40% of the votes. After the result of the election was announced, there is some kind of uncertainty in Sri Lankan capital and other parts of the country. The opposition parties are unhappy and opposition leaders have already rejected the result by alleging fraud in the election. Independent Observers have said the election was fair but with some serious problems or questions unanswered. The hotel that General Sarath Fonseka is now staying has been surrounded by some troops belonging to Army, Navy and Air force. International media is reporting about this matter with a lot of importance.
The supporters of the president Mahinda Rajapaksa are now celebrating in different parts of the country. Many of them have come to the street and are expressing their joy and they are very happy with this result and they feel that the people have voted for him because this president could ensure peace for the country. Only a few months ago, Sri Lankan army could crash Tamil rebellion in the North of the country.
On the other hand, the opposition leaders are very unhappy and they have already rejected the election result. They are stating that the will of the people have not been reflected in the election result. In fact, General Sarath Fonseka has announced that he would challenge the result in the court and he will fight a legal battle for this election.
The run up to the election was not peaceful as some people died in violent clashes. I have to say that the number of deaths is not that much compared to many third world countries but it was still an uneasy environment for the people. Some reports suggested that in some areas, intimidation was used and some people belonging to the minority voters could not go to vote. So, whether it was a violent or peaceful campaign there is no doubt that the run up to the election was full of problems and bitterness. The two candidates accused each other of serious matters. For example, the opposition leader constantly accused of corruption against the current president and his allies.
Although General Sarath Fonseka has stated that he will go to court and fight a legal battle but I am sure that this problem will not remain limited only in the court room. I am expecting to see street battles or political movements by the combined opposition parties against ruling government in the next few months. In fact, the election became so bitter that I am worried about the future of Sri Lankan economy. I feel that the time for political instability is going to start in the country.
When the problem of Tamil rebellion finished a few months ago, there was a lot of optimism that the country see a new beginning and things will totally become peaceful. However, the election just showed how divided public opinions in Sri Lanka is. Even if you are ready to accept all the accusations of General Sarath Fonseka, there is still a lot of popular support for the current president Mahinda Rajapaksa. So, the entire populations are divided and this can not be good for the economy. Instability is always bad for economy and we have seen these problems in another neighboring country Nepal. Nepal is also a beautiful country in South Asia and it has a lot of potential in the tourism sector just like Sri Lanka. However, political fighting has totally destroyed the Nepalese economy and Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world.
I am afraid for Sri Lankan economy for the same problem. Recently, an influential media of USA announced Sri Lanka to be the most attractive place to visit 2010. So, the tourism sector of this country should get a lot of boost in this year but if political problem starts then the tourism sector will surely suffer. If instability comes again then the Sri Lankan government will become weak and I will not be surprised to see the Tamil problem again becoming a major problem for the country. Of course, in 2010, I am not expecting any resurgence of the Tamil problem but if bitterness and political division continues among the majority Sinhalese population, then Tamil problem will come again sooner or later. The reaction of international community is not still clear. As I said, only less than one hour ago the result has been announced and it is perhaps too early to expect official reaction from international community. There is no official reaction from USA or UK yet. There were some independent observers and most probably tomorrow, we will get a better picture of their assessment of the president election 2010.
I hope that Sri Lankan political leaders can sort out their problems and find a common ground. However, I am not hopeful because in many third world countries, political fighting is a very natural matter and in the end, I think that it is ultimately the ordinary people who are to blame for this. They must try to give value to democratic culture and they must become conscious and active in politics. Only then they can exert real pressure on political leaders and political leaders will be forced to work in a peaceful way and thus any real change will come to a country like Sri Lanka.

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1 comment:

  1. The whole world has supported the president of Sri Lanka Mahinde Rajapakse in his doings last year summer.Supporting and accepting the killing of hundreds of tamil innocent people.However, I don´t get, why people are now wondering at his unfairness and fraud.It is obvious that there were cheatings during the election and it is obvious that there will be clashes between both parties.

    Sri Lanka will never develop,as far as there is no unity/peace, between Tamils and Sinhalas and among Sinhalas...