1/25/2010

What a President are we going to re-elect in Sri Lanka?


(January 25, Colombo - Lanka Polity) January 22nd dawned with the news of a bomb explosion in the house of Sri Lanka opposition activist Tiran Alles. President Mahinda Rajapaksa's ally Wimal Weerawansa was quick to say that it was a conspiracy of the opposition to beg for sympathy votes. But yesterday Alles spoke to media and said he wanted to make an exposure since there is a threat to his life.


Alles said he witnessed President's brother Basil Rajapaksa who is an appointed MP and an adviser of the President now giving Rs. 180 million in cash to a leader of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE) in his presence under the guidance of then Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa. The grant was an appreciation for the LTTE to lead a boycott of Tamil votes in the 2005 Presidential. Mahinda Rajapaksa, backed strongly by Sinhala chauvinist elements was able to deprive the victory of the opposition candidate Ranil Wickramasinghe thanks to this boycott that prevented Tamils expressing their conscience. LTTE reportedly bought boats with these funds and later used them to kill many Navy personnel and to transport deadly weapons.


Alles, who was a close ally of Mahinda Rajapaksa during his 2005 Presidential campaign defected from the ruling alliance later and he had to face terrorism charges later. He says he revealed all what he knew to the Terrorist Investigation Department of Police to be recorded by them. Embarrassed police later released him without framing charges.


The President was saved of being sued for breach of trust regarding tsunami aids received from abroad thanks to the official impunity of the Presidency under Sri Lankan law. His governance is ill-famous for corruption from top to bottom and his extended family is alleged of amassing huge wealth through corrupt deals.


However, the President is a hero among many Sri Lankans that belong to the majority Sinhala community due to the war victory against Tamil nationalist liberation movement. He, together with his brother Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, present opposition presidential candidate ex-Commander of Army Sarath Fonseka and other service commanders led the state forces supported by the public to totally annihilate the Liberation Tigers.


But Rajapaksa failed to lead the reconciliation process in post-war Sri Lanka. No political process was initiated. However, his regime was in an illusion that they are to rule the country for many years ahead until the long lasting democracy produced a powerful contender for his post. The nation was on the verge of the patience regarding corruption, bad governance, dictatorial rule and anarchy.


The 2010 presidential is the tensest political battle in the history and it is also earmarked as the most corrupt one. The President was shameless to manipulate each and every public property for his propaganda campaign and the opposition was deprived of all opportunities he could block. However, the tide is so high against the President and he is likely to lose the post irrespective of how corrupt the election is.


Sri Lanka needs a leader that can lead the post-war reconciliation. The President needs to fight corruption and to introduce good governance, democracy and rule of law. The President must restart the political process to seek permanent solutions for the woes of the minority communities.

Opposition candidate Sarath Fonseka has pledged a good life. He is also a man with a questionable past. However, he has been able to muster the support of many who need a change in the system. However, we have to wait to see if the vote will express the sentiments for a change. 


(Photo: Emil Kanthan, the LTTE leader that obtained money from Basil Rajapaksa, according to Tiran Alles, posing with President's son Namal Rajapaksa)

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