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What will Sri Lankan election mean?

January 26th, 2010
12:44 PM ET

It's the first presidential election in Sri Lanka since the end of a civil war which ravaged the country for more than 25 years.

Long lines greet voters in Sri Lanka.

Long lines greet voters in Sri Lanka.

More importantly, it's the first time that many former Tamil rebels will be able to vote since being defeated last May.

The Tamil vote, analysts say, could decide the election because the Majority Sinhala population may split their vote between the two front runners: incumbent President Mahnida Rajapaksa and retired Army General Sarath Fonseka.

Both men claim war hero status after winning the civil war.

We want to know what you think.

What do you think this election means for Sri Lankans - both at home and abroad? Is this going to be a new era of peace and prosperity for the country? Is either candidate really ready to rebuild?

Please leave your comments below.


Filed under:  General
soundoff (23 Responses)
  1. kamil weerasekera

    who ever comes out as winner may the rule of law prevail and equality be there for all citizens

    January 26, 2010 at 4:12 pm | Reply
  2. XeiloK

    The war is over and that's good. However, given the two front-runners in this election, coupled with Sri-Lanka's history for political corruption, I don't see much change in their near-future. I can only hope they keep their country and people in mind after the election. Rebuilding the economy, promoting affordable higher education and introducing more English medium disciplines in local ans state schools and job creation should be the primary concerns for the elected candidate. They need only look to their neighbors north in India to derive motivation. A country smaller than NY state, I see no reason why it should not be one of the countries with a high quality of life. Except for bad governance, which unfortunately, is what all of it's previous administrations have delivered. The very nature of this election shakes my belief that they will be able to maintain peace and democracy, and I'll reserve my judgment on that, for now.
    Good luck to them. I hope there is change and improvement, though I'm not very optimistic.

    January 26, 2010 at 4:22 pm | Reply
  3. Sahan Dissanayake

    After decades of destructive civil war all Sri Lankans finally got a chance at healing and rebuilding when the civil war ended last year. It was very sad and unfortunate to see the sharp divide that appeared as a result of this early election. I had never seen such a emotional reaction from supporters in previous elections; supporters of the two main candidates for the most part felt their candidate was faultless and that the opposition candidate if elected would destroy the country. Many people seemed to have forgotten that both these candidates are imperfect and will need the support of a majority of Sri Lankans to rebuild and heal the still festering wounds from decades of war. Many people seemed to have forgotten the fear and uncertainty that prevailed over the last 28 years.

    Regardless of the winner of this election I truly hope that the winner will act like a statesman and not a politician and that the country as a whole will finally be able to start benefiting from the long over due peace dividend by following sound and equitable economic and social policies.

    It is time that we, as Sri Lankans, set aside petty politics and work together for the benefit of our future generations.

    January 26, 2010 at 4:36 pm | Reply
  4. sandra

    During the polls, the Sri Lankan state-run televisions showed the incumbent President Rajapakse praying in atemple depicting him as a pure soul devoid of violence, crimes, cronysm, corruption and nepotism.

    Three and a half hour of bomb blasts from the north miltary camps intimidated Tamil voters to a mere 18% turnout (of nations overall 70%)

    Government backed paramilitary were issuing 'boycott election' pamphlets in an attempt to prevent the opposition getting the votes.

    In some regions 80% of polling cards were not issued.

    A Rajapakse model of democracy in calling for early elections to secure the accumulated wealth, not for a reconciliation among communities. History of Sri Lankan elections along the communal disharmony is repeated once more.

    January 26, 2010 at 7:29 pm | Reply
  5. Dinesh Kularatne

    Eight months ago, most of the Sri Lankans (majority as well as minority) supported the current president and the military leaders who were key instruments in wining the war against LTTE. Soon of a sudden majority Sinhalese feel that they are invincible and there is no room for regrouping of the LTTE. This is a country that was torn apart by greed, corruption, distrust, ethnic devision, misconceptions and many many other factors. What requires is to rebuild trust among ethnic groups, bi-partisan agreements on social, political, educational development and last but not least to learn to applicate the new freedom all citizen are given after wining the war. Therefore, to maintain this novel freedom they all must work hand in hand. So the separation of these two key instruments that was an intricate part of the brains and power behind the war is a oppressive and pitiful.

    Dear Sri Lankans, please remember " Greed Breeds Grief"

    January 26, 2010 at 7:32 pm | Reply
  6. Nishantha

    In the minds of true patriotic Sri Lankans there is no choice than President Mahinda Rajapaksha for what he has done to this country which I would give for everyone's benefit.

    1. Totally defeated the world's most ruthless terrorist organization, what the entire world said impossible to do.

    2. Country's per capita income rose to 2,100 USD from 1,200 at the time Mahinda assumed power in 2005.

    3. Country's foreign reserves have increased many folds.

    4. Sri Lanka's stock market became the second best in the world in 2009.

    5. Sri Lanka's status has been up-graded to "Middle Income" country by the IMF.

    6. Sri Lanka's tourism has increased and New York Times selected Sri Lanka as one of the best 31 destination to visit in 2010.

    7. Mahinda has commenced developing 05 major sea ports around the country.

    8. Work has commenced to build the 2nd International Air Port in Down South.

    9. 300 MW Coal Power plant and another major Hydro Power Plant projects have been commenced.

    10. Managed to reduce smoking by 6% with his anti smoking campaign.

    11. Construction of the first major Highway, the Southern Highway is about to be completed connecting Colombo & Matara.

    12. The work of Matara-Kataragama Railway line is under construction.

    13. Sri Lanka's longest bridge was built in Batti in the eastern province.

    14. A 9 road is fully opened for every citizen.

    15. Rebuild and open Holy Madu Church for devotees.

    And it goes onn and onn. Believe, all these in just 04 years in office and out of this whilst fighting the world's deadliest terrorist for 3 years.

    With that sorts of an unprecedented track record, would any fair minded Sri Lankan will vote against him...?

    Only LTTE proxies and some bankrupt local politicians backed by western powers with hidden agendas wanted to oust President Mahinda.

    January 26, 2010 at 7:48 pm | Reply
  7. Jonas

    be it pakistan, india or sri lanka Asians cannot rule their own country. a recipe for further disasters in the region

    January 26, 2010 at 9:36 pm | Reply
  8. Iresha DeGross

    He was the General all right, but I do not see the strength from him compare to the President. He proved that he can follow orders.

    After end the war, they should have held their hands together to develop this land of opportunity. Only thing both did was spread dark tar on each other equally. It will take some time to wash it away, who ever wins.

    I think Fr: General really needs some experience in Politics. This statement totally different than the "Experience statement" made by Mrs. Clinton to the U.S. President while they were campaigning.

    January 26, 2010 at 10:21 pm | Reply
  9. Jean

    Congratulations to Nishantha, for putting it together so brilliantly.

    It is extremely sad that our Sri lnakans had turned out to be an ungrateful bunch including Sarath Fonseka. I am deeply concerned that the peace process will be short lived if this man was given power. He has not only betrayed his party but has lost all credibility and the respect of the majority by his very selfish actions in joining the other side to achieve his own selfish goals. If he was a true leader and statesman he would have worked together with Mahinda Rajapakse in re building our mother land. It is quite shameful and I wish Mahinda Rajapkse God's blessings and may he be victorious today as it is time that the country regained pace and harmony and there is no other leader who can do this except Mahinda Rajapakse. Long may he reign.

    January 26, 2010 at 11:39 pm | Reply
  10. Jim Roane

    These are wonderful people, Tamil and Sinhala alike. I spent many years among them, and was fortunate enough to help them rebuild the country after the 2004 tsunami. They deserve our prayers and respect.

    January 26, 2010 at 11:41 pm | Reply
  11. Joe Ladislaus

    This election, called well before time on a tide of triumphalism is a farce, considering that many Tamil in the Northeast are not in the same right frame of mind as their Sinhalese counter parts in the South and/or deprived of the franchise for one reason or the other.
    Up to 25,000 IDP registration forms from the North have not been received by the Election Commissioner by closing date.
    http://www.thesundayleader.lk/2009/12/27/majority-of-displaced-have-no-vote/
    According the spokes person Mr. Thennakon of the CAFFE there have been 4000 duplicate registrations for distant voting, as IDPs with the same name have applied from two different areas. He alleged that this was a part of a plan to rig the poll in these areas. http://www.caffe.lk/CaFFE_charges_plans_to_rig_vote-5-1539.html
    For the Tamils this election; like any others, is only an exercise of choosing the winner and nothing else.

    January 27, 2010 at 1:26 am | Reply
  12. Upul

    As a Sinhalese Journalist, in my opinion, Rajapakses are a disgrace to civility. They put family first before the nation and killed Tamil brethern in the blackout conditions. Rajapakse ardently believes in astrology which he used to fool the majority people, who are fed with venomous racism.

    After Hitler, I would put Rajapakse next in a big way more than any dictators, Al-Bashir, than Shwe or Slobodan.

    January 27, 2010 at 4:18 am | Reply
  13. devis

    It is important to restore the law and order in the country, The reputation of the president is depending on how he treats his countrymen.If the supporters are not obeying the law ,then the image of the leader too become bad.we are facing these kind of unjust daily. I think people must have freedom to express their Ideas. It is the true democracy

    January 27, 2010 at 10:50 am | Reply
  14. inoka

    It is a sad day for this beloved country.. The president is re elected!! and what if the opposition leader would have been elected? Maybe frying pan in to the fire?? We would have never known.
    The current president is the only president ( I think) who has made his family part of the government.Basically his family runs country. What qualifications or educational back ground in running a state, does any of them hold?? Nothing!! The sad part is the majority of the Sri Lankan doesn't seems to care or have they made all Sri Lankans look like fools?? They are talking about the war.. the ending of it! so it ended!! but what about the future?? We voted some one who had no problem killing of thousands of civilians?Us Sri Lankans sadly seems to be only looking at one side of the coin.

    On the other hand, no one seemed to care that the oppostion leader is a military leader. Why did the opposition parties decided on him? wasn't there any one worth in the opposition party to run as a president?

    Why are the Sri Lanknas so hung up on these leaders, who feeds them bull shite!! Do they not have their own free mind, to look around to see what is going on in this country? Re-electing the most corrupted president\family ever to lead, a country, I believe is a downfall economically to us, Sri Lankans. And when people do and they will realise but in the future,then it will be too late.

    My wish to Sri Lanka and to all the Sri Lankan open your eyes to the truth. Do not look at it only from one side, and maybe in the future we will not have to face a corrupted political environment.

    I really hope the president, if he has any guilty conscious( I highly doubt it) about the way this country is running or the way ha ran.. that he will kick his family out of the government, Especially his brothers who are the worst out of the lot, and that he will keep his promises to the people.

    January 27, 2010 at 1:08 pm | Reply
  15. GROX

    This is a totally ragged election. It is with common sense that President Mahinda Rajapakse is not capable of obtain such a massive difference in votes. Just speaking to the public here in SL any person with brains can understand this. And also the actions taken by the President is disgusting. He is torturing General Sarath Fonseka, his family and many other opposition leaders disobeying the law and the democracy of this country. Why the hell is he taking such a disgusting action in surrounding the General in the first place? The government has done many fraud activities during this elelction and this election is obviously not a fair one. The intention of the government is to as Fonseka said and also with common sense is to capture the general and assassinate him. He was the highest ranked military officer in the SL Army and the main person behind the victory of SL against terrorism. Should he be treated like this by the Army itself?
    Please, foreign government influence in this regard is mandatory. The strong counntries such as USA must intervine in this regard and warn president Mahinda Rajapaksha. If he dosent listen to them it is also necessary to take even a higher step by the foreign governments THIS ACTION IS MANDATORY. The innocent pulbic here is at the moment actionless against the terror and fraud of the Government. Please resolve this matter as soon as possible.

    January 27, 2010 at 2:31 pm | Reply
  16. Fair or Not

    Is it was a real fair election? question remains people who vote more then 14 million will experience the consequences of their own activeites in the coming 6 years.

    January 27, 2010 at 6:55 pm | Reply
  17. gamarala

    one of the presidential siblings took over the election secratariat in Colombo and revised the results sent in by counting centers. That is how the majority was so high

    since the announcement has been made, we have a new president who we may or may not like.

    that being said, what remains to be seen is how this victory is used; will it be used to enrich a few or for the betterment of the country? Don't be fooled by a few roads or bridges. True, sustainable development can only take place when there is good governance, respect for minorities, equality, law and justice

    January 27, 2010 at 7:17 pm | Reply
  18. Anne

    Congratulations to President Rajapakse on winning a second term. I believe he deserve this win for just one reason, that is ending the decades long civil war. With this victory we hope that he will put the country first not his family and will do his very best to improve the economy of the country and thereby improve the standard of living in Sri Lanka. President need to concentrate on financial situation in Sri Lanka with some banks gone bankrupt like in many other countries but no positive action taken by the government to remedy the situation. No president in the past did his/her best to eradicate civil war but you did it. So in the same way please concentrate on building Sri Lanka – our beautiful pearl in the Indian Ocean, without utilizing country's resources to benefit your own family.

    January 27, 2010 at 8:13 pm | Reply
  19. erax

    There are few people (like some of the miserable people who have left angered comments here against H.E. Mr. Rajapakshe), the people whom so desperately wanting to see Sri Lanka going back to the dark old days. They just say or do anything they can to spread anger and somehow to topple the current government and the presidency to make the country unstable again...so that a few can benefit their businesses by eating up on country's resources.

    Shame on each and every one of you who speaks against such a great true leader with so much love and kindness for his fellow countrymen, who has ended the killings of millions of innocent children, men and women by taking a stern action against the most brutal terrorist organization in the world (LTTE) by risking his own life and the lives of his family members and relatives.

    Stop talking like you all were re-born here! We all remember how the so called opposition (UNP) has held elections in the past in this country. Filling-up ballet boxes using their party supported gangsters, killing and threatening all the people who held ideas against them, altering elections results..and the list goes on. That's what is called ragged elections. Its H.E. Mr. Rajapaksha and the governments he represented has stopped these bad influences and started treating all as equal citizens without spreading anger and violence. It seems the opposition is still good at spreading violence with the help of an angered ex-army commander and with the help of the notorious JVP. We all have witnessed how good they are at killing during this election as well, by taking the lives of many innocent supporters of the president. Yet what H.E. the president did was asking his people to remain calm and preaching his people that taking an eye to eye is not the way to go. God knows what will happen in this country if the opposition had won this election, the killing on the streets would have started once again like in the 80's by taking revenge from all the people that had supported the present government. Thanks to Mr. Rajapaksha, we have a peaceful country to live right now.

    For those who put allegations on President Rajapaksha's brothers...well that's just nothing but mud-slinging. When you have nothing much to say or when you know you are surely loosing...the easy way out is to attack someone's character. There has been no credible evidence to support these alligations. If there is why don't you people just go to the courts and prove it. There is a strong independent judicial system in the country. Then we all can see the truth of it. One of the Rajapaksha brothers was the engine behind the battle against the terrorists by being the defense secretary and the other was the driving force in bringing the vast development programs to the tamils in north and the east and looking after the well-being of the internally displaced Tamils and Muslims due to the war. As there's a saying "you get accused more when you work more!", they get accused of doing nothing but serving the people.

    We all know the opposition candidate, ex-general Sarath Fonseka, departed from the government due to the president stopping the arms deals the ex-commander has been carrying out using a company owned to his son-in-law. We have seen credible evidence of it all over the media. So he's nothing but an angered man without any agenda or experience to rule a country, only looking for revenge from the president and to continue on his businesses.

    It is very sad, alarming and surprising to see how the international media is giving a huge publicity and highlighting the statements of the opposition candidate while we have a lawfully elected president with a huge majority from its people. Is this what the so called media freedom or the correct media management that the international community preach so hard about? What i have to say to these media organization is that...just listen to what the people have to say...not to some bunch of lost politicians or businessmen!

    January 27, 2010 at 9:46 pm | Reply
  20. Sanath Dissanayake

    The election was rigged big time. The current president is doing BREAKING the law to win. This was in no way a people's election. Well, what can u expect from a leader who has Sri Lanka's leading Drug dealer (Mervin Silva) in his cabinet.

    January 28, 2010 at 6:44 am | Reply
  21. Vinod

    Mr. Fonseka couldn't get at least the UNP vote base. He would not get this amount of votes if he disclosed the fact that he couldn't vote. He lied to his country men, showing that he is no different to every other politician.

    I beleive the election results show the tru opinion of the Sri Lankan people, whether they are fools or not. I do not beleive 58% of Sri Lankans are fools.

    As president said himself, he will be the president of everybody, everybody who voted and who didn't vote for him. What the sri lankan citizens should do is support him, now that the majority has selected the leader. If Sri Lankans continue to fight according to party politics, the country will not be developed, no matter who is the president.

    Hope Sri Lankas are brainy enough to understand it.

    January 28, 2010 at 7:23 am | Reply
  22. Mendis

    Leader = Who had taken best use of others. So Mr. President Gave the leadership to Mr. General to Finished war He did it with the support of Airforce & Navy, Some countries had force Mr. President to STOP the war. But Mr. President Says no we want to finish this War to develop & keep established Peace in my country, so he take that brave desition & gave the orders to hit LTTD harder & attack air & Sea also, cause of that we defeat LTTE. That credits all to Mr. President cause in past also many Gernrals & Majors had done the war but they didnt completed it due to they have stopped it many times due to Presidents orders as our past presidents, but this time it has happent , So Hr. Mahinda, Our President did it,, Election has finished,, We allways for Mr. Mahinda,,, Our President,,

    January 28, 2010 at 7:40 am | Reply
  23. MR

    ‘Sirasa’ Threatened For Telecasting General Leaving Hotel
    Friday, 29 January 2010 08:39

    A senior official of the government who had demanded the video tape of the scenes taken when Gen. Sarath Fonseka was leaving Cinnamon Lakeside Hotel, where he was staying when election results were being announced, is now threatening ‘Sirasa’ media institution for refusing to hand over the relevant tapes say reliable sources.

    Gen. Fonseka had been prevented from leaving the hotel and local media people were not allowed to cover any of the events that occurred in the hotel or its vicinity. However, ‘Sirasa’ media institution got its cameraman to cover scenes of Gen. Fonseka leaving the hotel. Only ‘Sirasa,’ out of all local media institutions, was able to get the scenes videoed.

    A top government official has asked ‘Sirasa’ to hand over the tapes to the government. However, ‘Sirasa’ has rejected the request. The official has pressurized ‘Sirasa’ stating their license to telecast would be cancelled if they did not hand over the tape to the government. However, authorities of ‘Sirasa’ have refused to hand over the tape.

    The threats to ‘Sirasa’ has intensified and there is a possibility that the license to telecast would be withdrawn at any moment taking advantage of any slight excuse the government could find against the institution said the this source.

    January 31, 2010 at 4:30 pm | Reply

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