Of the many pieties that have been promoted in the Western media in the aftermath of Maithripala Sirisena’s victory over incumbent Mahinda Rajapaksa in the recent Sri Lankan presidential election, none has been more cherished than the notion that Sri Lanka is now on board with “democracy.” This claim is counter-posed to Sri Lanka’s recent cozy relationship with China and other authoritarian countries. A new Cold War is supposedly being fought, with Sri Lanka’s election reduced to its strategic relevance to policy makers.
Adopting an antagonistic approach towards the West only further strengthened their resolve and the resolve of other regional powers to tighten the noose against us. It is critical that if we are to tread delicately and get the best of what the game of international politics has in store for us, that we are at our best behavior at home.
In a measure of how far Thursday’s presidential election in Sri Lanka has become a knife-edge contest, diplomats here have been checking the rules in case of a dead heat: according to a 1981 act, the rival candidates would draw lots to settle on a winner.