‘Country Has Turned Around’

People have given their mandate to Maithripala Sirisena at the presidential election with a majority of 51.28% – which clearly includes majority of the minority votes of the country who have vested their trust upon another Sinhala leader who they expect would address their concerns and fulfil their aspirations. The Sunday Leader spoke to several politicians and civil society activists as to what the voice of people reflects and the way forward.

 

We remained a very neutral group

Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara, BBS General Secretary

It is not a thing to be surprised. When there are two parties contesting one has to win – that is the nature of any contest. In the election also someone has to win and someone has to lose. It seems at present, people have decided that Maithripala Sirisena is better than Mahinda Rajapaksa.

It was probably because there were lot of allegations against Mahinda Rajapaksa government especially with reference to bribery, corruption, lack of good governance, lack of law and order etc. The young generation wanted a change. Probably those factors might have caused the victory of Sirisena.

The only thing that we expect is that whoever who comes to power would stand up against separatism. It’s been four years since the war ended and Mahinda Rajapaksa government managed to keep the country safe.

That is why we helped them at one point. We have stayed as a neutral group. Only at the last minute when all the Muslim and Tamil groups were pushed to support the opposition, we decided to step forward for Sinhala Buddhist; anybody has that right to decided whom they want to support. With that in mind we decided to support him at the last minute.

There was a set of things we have been doing such as exposing malpractices which we will continue to do. With this victory, we request people to act peacefully.

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Not Just A Revolt From The Urban:

Nimalka Fernando - Attorney-at-law and Women’s Rights Activist

This is an unbelievable mandate. Personally, I did not expect such a huge voter-turnout. I took part in election monitoring and I was delighted to see the voter turnout. It seemed most of the UNP supporters who were in fear had come out to vote. And there is a revival of opposition in general. I am at the same time compelled to say that the opposition, activists and individuals have a major challenge today. In Vanni, people were afraid.

We had been working in Vanni and doing monitoring activities there and we leant that there were many who did not receive Samurdhi even though they were eligible. People have clearly rejected Mahinda Rajapaksa – it is not a personal rejection but a rejection of the manner in which the regime controlled their lives.

The North did not want a regime that controlled them with military.  They have once again given their mandate and trust to a Sinhala leader. Maithripala Sirisena, Ranil Wickremesinghe and Chandrika Bandaranayike Kumaratunga have been in politics for a very long time and they are the senior leaders who manned the opposition.

Maithripala is grass root level leader who knows the issues in the grass root level. Ranil Wickremesinghe had been the prime minister and Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga had been the former president and they have lot of experience that they will bring to the table. They are now responsible to address the needs and give meaning to what we mean by change today.

Change can be defined in many ways. This is not just a revolt from the urban but a revolt that has come from areas like Polonnaruwa, Anuradhapura, and Jaffna etc. People have placed their faith. It is a big challenge and people expect the new leader not to behave in the same way as the former leaders did.

We expect them to abolish the executive presidency, speak the language of human rights, good governance and law and order – which has been in a poor state. At the same time, I am happy that finally the former president helped for peaceful transition and I respect him for that. It is now understood that votes of the people is much more powerful.

 

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Set-up Created To Find A Lasting Solution:

Hasan Ali – SLMC Secretary General

We can see that there is a clear mandate given to Maithripala Sirisena from the minority. For the first time after thirty years, the minority has placed their trust on the Sinhala majority who have rallied behind Maithripala Sirisena. We hope and we have no doubt that there will be a peaceful solution to minority issue and there will be everlasting peace and prosperity in this country.

Mahinda Rajapaksa diverted the war victory into some other direction, to get the benefit for a certain group of people and his family. People as a whole could not enjoy their rights. Now they should find a solution for the ethnic problems.

In this new set-up there is TNA, SLMC and there are people from Sinhala Buddhist right thinking minority leaders have come together.

There is a better a set-up created to find a lasing solution to the issues like how they did in South Africa. In South Africa soon after the war, there was lot of prominence given to the peace building process and now we have to put that in place in Sri Lanka. And the transition period has been peaceful.

All parties with diverse ideologies who have come together need peace and harmony and changes to the constitution which can make everybody happy.  And there is promise of a 100 day plan and constitutional change with restoration of the 17A and abolition of 18A and once these reforms are done half of the problems we have been facing in this country will be wiped out.

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People Clearly Wanted A Change:

J. C. Weliamuna – Attorney-at-Law, Human Rights Activist

People clearly wanted a change. People were clearly fed up with the previous regime.

It was a family rule and law and order was never respected.

They abused powers of the state for personal gains and they had vested interest in everything.

I think people felt that and we needed a change.

The way forward now is to push for 100 day programme without any deviation. So far the transition has been smooth.

I think Mahinda Rajapaksa have respected people’s mandate.

I think transition in every angle is taking place smoothly and I am glad so far it has been peaceful.

 

 

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Majority In This Country Has Turned Around:

Dr Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu – Executive Director, Centre for Policy Alternatives

First of all I m very happy and it is poetic irony that the election was held on the day of commemoration of your editors death.

People have voted against the corruption, misguidance and lack of vision of the Mahinda Rajapaksa regime.

It is a new beginning to Sri Lanka.

As I understand Mahinda Rajapaksa said that he would step down peacefully and committed to a smooth transition.

As the Civil Society activists, we can see that the opposition has been talking about lot of things that have been the concerns of the civil society for many years. We can see a replication of the same concerns.

After all during the former regime, we were called traitors – we were called thieves – we were called terrorists.

But now the majority in this country has turned around and shown that either they were mistaken or misconceived or quite simply just nasty.

I see this as a clear indication.

 

1 Comment for “‘Country Has Turned Around’”

  1. shantha

    As a young lady from Colombo was quoted, the fear has gone, we can speak again?

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