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Bring These Foolish Desperadoes To Heel!

A midst the end of year mood for merriment and the excitement of the hustings for the presidential election, there lurks the fear of a deluge that can spell disaster for a great many, particularly the lesser privileged of the country. This is a challenge that will be carried over to the New Year and there is the obvious call to all who can help, to devote themselves to meet this challenge. It is a challenge particularly to the government and government officials who have by virtue of their office are committed to the service of the people. Elections, however much their personal interests are involved, must take second place, at least for the time being. At the time of making these comments 650,000 people are reported to be in distress.

The second challenge is the presidential election, the fallout of which will be with us for many more years to come. Both leading candidates unequivocally say that the choice of their main opponent will spell disaster for the country whereas their victory would ensure peace, stability, milk and honey. This is standard campaign rhetoric which unfortunately, at times, has turned out to be correct. Thus, a great responsibility behoves on all voters in casting their ballot.

The election campaign got off to a bang when Maithripala Sirisena broke ranks of the Rajapaksa cabinet, gave up his ministerial portfolio and declared that he will accept the offer of leadership of the Common Opposition Front. Despite the political jolt, Sirisena tempered his rhetoric with forbearance. He had no personal animosity with Rajapaksa, his personal boss, he declared. But he was strongly opposed to Rajapaksa policies such as the commitment to the executive presidential system, third presidential term, family bandysm, kitchen cabinet of select few, bad governance, etc. Forbearing rhetoric however cannot hold for long in a heated election campaign and allegations are now flying thick and fast as in any other campaign.

Rajapaksa running for presidency for the third time – like any other incumbent president – is on the defence. There is no broad target for him to attack, Sirisena having been his party general secretary for long years. Rajapaksa cannot attack Sirisena’s misdemeanours because he may be pulling out dirty linen of others. That’s perhaps why he said he had ‘files’ of many cross-overs, but stopped short of talking about what’s in the files. He has accused Sirisena of betrayal – shades of Et tu, Brute. Sirisena’s vision for the future was released only last week and there is no time to deal with it fairly and squarely. Rajapaksa’s achievements of the past include giving leadership in the victory on the war against terrorism, safeguarding national sovereignty, resettlement of ex-LTTE cadres and IDPs and of course his infrastructure development – Hambantota harbour and airport and the highways.

The exchanges on policies and principles have been fairly even and most voters by now should have decided on their candidate. The rough outlines of the Sri Lankan electorate are fairly discernible: The voting blocs of the two main parties: SLFP and UNP, Muslim and Tamil parties, Sinhala-Buddhist parties, Marxist parties and the JVP. There are fissions in these voting blocs and these tendencies could determine the ultimate winner.

There has been no cause for concern about election violence in the first two weeks after nominations, but since then, violence has been picking up. Smashing up of two election platforms of the Common Front is a matter of concern and this kind of brazen thuggery should be smashed head on.

Many elections have been held in this country in the 66 years since independence and the great majority of voters of every strata of society abhor violence. Both political veterans, Rajapaksa and Sirisena know very well that election violence is counterproductive. The violence unleashed so far is obviously by party upstarts who think they can catch the eye of leaders by this kind of foolish bravado. The sooner these foolish desperadoes are brought to heel by party leaders, the better it would be for their own hopes of victory.

The Elections Commissioner and police are officially entrusted with the conduct of a peaceful election. In certain areas, the Elections Commissioner is rendered impotent such as in directing the media on election laws. This is a glaring defect in the electoral system which ruling parties have preferred to ignore because this lapse favours parties in power.

2014 elections are going to be momentous for this country because of the many divergent issues that are being discussed. Violence in whatever form cannot change the history of this country. The two insurrections in the South and that in the North and East have shown that.

1 Comment for “Bring These Foolish Desperadoes To Heel!”

  1. Peace is not the absnce of war. Peace is only achieved when the issues that caused the war are resolved by dialogue.

    Military defeat does not end a political issue. This was made clear by the military commander Sarath Fonseka after the war.

    Is it peace under democracy when;

    a) About 100,000 soldiers occupy North and East of the island and oppress citizens?
    b) The land of natives are grabbed with state support?
    c) Justice is denied locally?
    d) Freedom of people are curtailed?
    e) The UNHRC had to intervene to do justice and punish the criminals of war crimes?

    During the past 4 years, violence increased and Buddhist extremism played havoc. Churches were burnt down and Christians were persecuted. Hindu Temples and mosques were violated. Is this peace?

    We the people of the island want real peace, and I pray to God that the year 2015 would be an year of great love for one another, real peace and prosperity in our ways.

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