“Gotabaya “Gota” Rajapaksa of the Sinhalese-Buddhist nationalist SLPP, who served as defence minister under his brother, is one of two frontrunners. Mr Rajapaksa is subject to lawsuits relating to torture, fraud and corruption. He wants Mahinda, unable to run again due to term limits, as his prime minister. The Rajapaksas oversaw the end to the decades-long civil war, but one UN report suggested as many as 40,000 Tamil civilians died in its final months. Tamil politicians were murdered and thousands of Sri Lankans disappeared.”
“Even as a Rajapakse return haunts Sri Lanka I am inspired today by the strength and determination of the Muslim persons attacked en-route to the polling station. The Hindu reports that they used public transport and private vehicles to ensure they made it to the polling stations in Mannar to cast their vote. I return to the statement released by CPA in the aftermath of the 2015 Presidential Election and continue to grasp onto the spirit in which it was written: “They called us terrorists, traitors and thieves; we called ourselves citizens”.
“Preliminary estimates record close to 80% polling; minority Tamil, Muslim regions see over 70% voting.
The November 16 presidential election in Sri Lanka may be headed for a tight race between hopefuls Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Sajith Premadasa, following a high voter turnout, including in the north and east, home to a large population of minority Tamils and Muslims.
According to preliminary estimates provided by the Election Commission, about 80% of the eligible citizens cast their votes, comparable to the 81.52 % recorded in the 2015 election.
Initial trends are likely to emerge by Sunday afternoon, while official results will be declared on Monday.”
“Dans un pays meurtri par des attentats en avril dernier le jour de Pâques, et qui ont coûté la vie à 269 personnes, deux hommes s’affrontent aujourd’hui pour le poste de président: un candidat proche du pouvoir et un candidat du puissant clan Rajapaksa.”
Le Parlement de Sri Lanka vient de faire paraître son rapport sur les responsabilités des services de sécurité sri-lankais dans les attentats de Pâques. Ce rapport confirme ce qui était suggéré dès après les attentats, à savoir la non-transmission à la police par les services secrets sri-lankais des informations fournies par les services secrets indiens d’une attaque imminente contre des églises et des hôtels, et la rétention par ces mêmes services d’informations concernant le groupe extrémiste musulman à l’origine des attentats.
Le rapport suggère que “de nouvelles investigations seront nécessaires pour comprendre si des personnes ayant des intérêts personnels n’ont pas agi consciemment de sorte à créer le chaos et l’incertitude dans le pays dans la perspective des élections présidentielles devant se dérouler plus tard dans l’année”. Sans le dire explicitement, l’allusion vise Gotabhaya Rajapakse, dont les liens avec les services secrets de l’armée sont bien connus, et dont l’appui constant aux organisations bouddhistes anti-musulmanes a contribué à attiser la violence en retour des extrémistes musulmans. La parution de ce rapport à quelques jours des élections n’est évidemment pas fortuite, et son contenu soulève suffisamment de questions pour qu’il soit versé au dossier
“If Gotabaya Rajapaksa wins the presidency, he and his family will have two priorities: secure the premiership for Mahinda Rajapaksa and obtain a two-thirds majority in the next parliament for the SLPP. Reaching the first goal would be a necessary condition for reaching the second. If the SLPP can go for the next election under a SLPP president and a SLPP premier, a landslide victory would be possible…”
“In a matter of days Sri Lanka will elect a new President and it is imperative that no doubt remains as to the eligibility of the person elected to the office of first citizen in Sri Lanka. It is also paramount that the Election Commission and other officials are independent and impartial and take all necessary steps to protect the integrity of elections”
“Sri Lanka goes to the polls on Saturday for a presidential election that will be a decisive moment for its future. The country is still reeling from the Easter Sunday bombings of April 2019, in which more than 250 people died, as well as 18 months of political instability and infighting.”
“The election circus has come to town once more. This time, an election that should not have happened in the first place has been thrusted upon the people. In February this year, speaking at a meeting jointly organised by two Leftist parties in Jaffna, I said we should stop the Presidential Election of 2019 which was against the mandate given by the majority of the people in 2015 (this was one of the reforms over which there was an island-wide consensus in 2015).
I said stop, not boycott. Boycott is not an option for me as the country is continuing to pay the price of the LTTE’s call to the Tamils in the North and East to boycott the 2005 Presidential Election. I was a first-time voter in 2005 and had come to my hometown in Jaffna from the University of Peradeniya, where I was a first-year undergraduate, to cast my vote for Ranil Wickremesinghe as a way of showing my support to the peace talks that he had started with the LTTE. Like thousands of Northern Tamils, I did not cast my vote out of fear of the LTTE. What happened after the 2005 Presidential Election is now history.”
“The more visible euphoria that precedes the coming presidential election, is accompanied with a deeper, solemn realism that the country is unlikely to be better placed after a new president is in place. The most recent experience of the post-2015 presidential election, remains a hard lesson. Whoever the major political power blocks thrust into the highest seat, the promised golden era will continue to elude us.”
The 2019 presidential election, rather predictably is shaping up politically, very similar to its precedent in 2015. On that occasion, the then ruling Rajapakses’ sought an unprecedented third term and was rebuffed at the polls. In 2019, the Rajapakses’ are essentially seeking a third term, with the personalities changed. The message though from the Rajapakse camp has not changed, only increased in intensity. The message that the Sinhala people are under threat both from within and without and require an authoritarian saviour.
Opposing this narrative, rather late in the day and through through no fault of his own, is Sajith Premadasa, the charismatic relatively young deputy leader of the UNP, whose political task and challenge is to recreate the politics of 2015 in 2019, with himself as a new standard-bearer and with a fresh political vision and message.
As many as 35 candidates are running for President in Sri Lanka’s November 16 election, but northern Tamils view it as a two-cornered fight between Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Sajith Premadasa. And they know who they don’t want in power.
Defeated in 2015 by a coalition led by Maithripala Sirisena, who promised to reform the economy and break with Sri Lanka’s history of human rights abuses, nepotism and corruption, the Rajapaksas are set to fight this election on the populist staples of security, ethnicity and religion. It is a vote that could profoundly shape the direction of Sri Lanka’s politics, as the clan works to establish an immovable political dynasty, threatening to unwind more than four years of democratic progress.
“We are presently witnessing a whirlwind of activities in the lead up to Presidential Elections due on 16th November with an unprecedented number of candidates and election hype. It was in this midst that we marked the six months anniversary of the devastating Easter Sunday attacks which claimed over 250 lives, injured many more and resulted in cycles of ethno-religious violence. Two days after, the Parliament Select Committee (PSC) appointed to examine these attacks released its hard-hitting 272-page report. Having made initial comments on the findings of the PSC report on Twitter on the day of its release, this article builds on some key threads. It is further informed by a recent visit to the North and East of Sri Lanka where the ground realities speak to the complexities and challenges.”