However, the key question remains: Does Sirisena have the political will and capability to actually resolve the fundamental problems that drove the country to almost three decades of civil war?
Elijah Hoole: “It was around six in the evening. Friendship Villa in the South Eastern University was full of activity. As I made my way through the corridor in search ofdrinking water, a batch mate from Batticaloa beamed at me. He was shaking with excitement. Sinhalese students could be heard shouting from their rooms. I soon came to know the cause of all the commotion: the opposition had unveiled Maithripala Sirisena as the common candidate.”
Sri Lanka has now got her best chance to topple the present leadership democratically; one which is either moving from a benevolent dictatorship to a mad and ferocious one (sonduru aaknyadaayakathwayaka sita viyaru aaknyadaayakathwayakata, as Maithripala stated) or one which has already reached the latter stage (according to Anura Kumara Dissanayaka). Whereas one would have expected a war-winning outfit to remain in power with some convenience for a decade or so, the regime is shaken to its core from within, just 5-6 years after the war; which explains the state of affairs in the country. Against the anti-reformist and corrupt governance of the present leadership, there’s little reason why the anti-regime campaign should not receive the support of a majority of the Sinhala masses. Even for those equally committed to the Tamil question, one believes it would be a vote for the anti-regime campaign with firmly held noses.
In other words, given the seriousness of the situation, critical support, then, is what the Sirisena-led opposition campaign deserves, not any blind and uncritical support merely motivated by hatred towards the existent leadership/regime. But, why?
Read Critically Supporting the Anti-Regime Campaign by Dr. Kalana Senaratne here.
There is only one way to rectify and thereby save the Maithripala campaign and the political space he has opened up. Only one way to prevent this moment from ending up like the Arab Spring, with the Empire striking back due to the dumbness of the democratic Opposition. That is to bring in Anura Kumara Dissanayake, Champika Ranawake and Sajith Premadasa — sharp young personalities and compelling speakers, none of whom are yesterday’s men — to the centre of the policy process, the campaign planning and the head table, flanking Maithripala. Mr. Sirisena is a brave and decent man; possibly our last hope. He deserves better than to be overshadowed or drowned out by his current companions and patrons who represent and recall the failures of a past from which Mahinda Rajapaksa, to his lasting credit, rescued the country.
Read THE SIRISENA SURGE: WHY MAHINDA IS STILL WAY AHEAD by Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka here.
How then must the opposition campaign? How does a Sinhala dominated opposition allay the fears of the Sinhala community that the opposition campaign—a cause for which there will be critical but overwhelming Tamil support—will harm the Sinhalese? Equally, how must a responsible Tamil opposition express its positions to the Tamil people credibly, without undermining Mr. Sirisena’s ability to attract Sinhala votes?