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Sunday, 11 January 2015





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Government Gazette

A victory for good governance and political decency

President Maithripala Sirisena

The seventh Presidential election that concluded on Thursday, saw the election of Maithripala Sirisena, who defected from the UPFA government and challenged former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, as the sixth Executive President of Sri Lanka, left so many messages and lessons for the people and the politicians of Sri Lanka.

Though many expected the victory of the common Opposition candidate Maithripala Sirisena would lead to post-election violence the country remained peaceful as the former President, accepting the decision of the people made arrangements for the smooth shift of power to President Maithripala Sirisena hours before the final result was declared by the Election Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya.

That was the type of gentlemanly politics the people of this country expected from politicians and it was a relief to the majority citizens who wanted the country to be peaceful after elections.

That situation enabled President Maithripala Sirisena to take oaths as the sixth executive President of this country on the same date the final result of the Presidential election was declared by the Election Commissioner which seemed to be a rare occurrence in Sri Lanka.


Thousands of peace loving people who wanted a ‘change’ in the politics of this country witnessed the true change they expected at the oaths taking ceremony of President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

The ceremony proved that there was no necessity for politicians to act as highly exclusive VVIPs and that they could mingle with the common masses as the country is free of terrorism.

One website reported that the entire ceremony cost less than Rs.10,000 including the cost of electricity.

With the Mahanayaka Thera of the Malwatte Chapter

This is in stark contrast to similar events during the previous administration which spent millions on grand opening ceremonies alone.

The success of President Maithripala Sirisena at the Presidential election surprised many as they never thought that he could face the campaign strategies of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa who was riding his campaign over the successes he achieved in liberating the country from the grip of terrorism and the development drive he continued during his tenure.

The opposition did not have access to most of the resources available to the then president.

During the election campaign

But the common Opposition candidate managed to swim against the tide facing all the challenges, criticisms and mud-slinging campaigns carried out by the UPFA personally against him and also the common opposition. It was through a step-by-step process that the common Opposition candidate convinced the people of his future plans when the former President was sticking to the slogan of war victory, development and the allegation that Western nations backed a conspiracy to destabilise the country. The fact that the election was called two years early by the President himself was conveniently forgotten.

When they UPFA was reciting those like ‘mantra’ the common opposition diversified their campaign on many aspects countering all the allegations the UPFA candidate levelled against them garnering the support of all communities.

Vote base

Though creative and entertaining, the voters were not in agreement with the personnel mud-slinging campaign on Maithripala Sirisena, his alliance and personally on former president Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga.

Those attempts were condemned even within the circles of the UPFA as they knew the mud-slinging is a factor that would distance the vote base from them rather than attracting the voters.

People tend to accept the political satire at the political stage but not the third class street language to attack and criticise political rivals.

What vociferous Ministers Wimal Weerawansa, S.B. Dissanayake and Dayasiri Jayasekara said on the political stage actually did harm the campaign of former president rather than supporting him because it was not only the party supporters they addressed. Their remarks struck the intelligence of the youth and the common masses who witnessed it through the electronic media.

The other factor that contributed to the victory of the common candidate was the campaign carried out by the UPFA based on the war victory. It was true fact that country won the war and the credit for that should go to former President Rajapaksa, the Tri Forces Commanders and personnel and political hierarchy and that was never denied by political leaders.

In fact, President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had acknowledged this. But the constant beating of war drums became a negative factor for the UPFA campaign as people really wanted to see a change in their campaign.

Biggest factor

In his youth

Though the war victory is still a factor to convince the adult voters who suffered and experienced it, did not come handy to convince the youth. Therefore, the primitive approach to convince the voters by the UPFA came in handy for President Maithripala Sirisena to change the mindset of the youth voters.

The biggest factor for the victory of President Maithripala Sirisena came from the ethnic and religious minority of the country. Actually redressing the grievance of the Tamil and Muslim community was expected when Sri Lanka emerged victorious against terrorism, but they felt that they were politically isolated by President Rajapaksa in the post conflict era.Even at the Presidential election there was no genuine attempt by the UPFA to include the Tamil and Muslim political parties within their fold. Instead they used the minority factor to ‘prove’ their allegation that the common opposition is backed by the diaspora community.

But Maithripala Sirisena was bold in his decision to

take the minority community within his fold even amidst scathing remarks made on him by the UPFA saying he is grooming separatism in this country. The presence of Jathika Hela Urumaya within the opposition alliance and the backing of Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna helped him to counter these separatism allegations and attract the voters in the South towards him.

The Tamil National Alliance and the Muslim Congress also helped him countering the allegation by the UPFA that common Opposition had a secret pact with them. Rebel UNP MP Tissa Attanayake’s revelation of a 'secret' plan between the UNP and the Common Candidate also backfired badly as it was widely perceived to be a forged document. Tamil and Muslim voters’ support was another factor for his victory as he managed to obtain 977,081 votes from the Northern and the Eastern provinces against the 323,590 votes obtained by Mahinda Rajapaksa from the North and the East.

The massive majority obtained from the North and the East helped Maithripala Sirisena to stand strong when the Sinhala dominated South was divided in voting for the candidates representing the Sinhala community.


That could have been the same result in 2005, if Ranil Wickremesinghe got the same support from the Tamil community in the North if the LTTE did not block them from voting. Under the circumstances President Maithripala Sirisena has a greater responsibility towards the minority communities in the country. All Sri Lankans expect the new President to do justice to the grievances of minority communities.

Another contributing factor for the success of Maithripala Sirisena was the unity within the United National Party which was the main political party supporting his candidacy in the election.

All the factions within the UNP united and supported his candidacy even awakening its voters who had a lethargic attitude towards elections due to its defeatist tendency in elections.

Though the UPFA tried its best to get Sajith Premadasa under their fold they failed miserably in their attempt.

A news item to that effect telecast on the Election Day itself was contradicted by Premadasa.

The only key supporter the

UPFA could catch was then UNP general secretary Tissa Attanayake.

The shift of the UNP general secretary post to Kabir Hashim also came as a benefitting factor for the UNP to keep the Muslim vote base intact within its party and get them to vote for Maithripala Sirisena.

Former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga was the prime mover behind the attempt by the common opposition to end the Rajapaksa regime. The masses of this country may have not forgotten the fact that it was she who played the key role in changing the governments in Sri Lanka in the recent past.

It was she who defeated then 17-year-long UNP regime after becoming the Chief Minister in the Western province in 1993 and then defeating the UNP government in August 1994 general election taking the challenge after risking even her life.

In 2004, she was instrumental in toppling the UNF government after taking over three key Ministries from the then UNF government led by Ranil Wickremesinghe and later dissolving parliament. She managed to get political parties with diverse political opinion even the JVP under the UPFA and get the tide against the UNP and defeat it to set up the UPFA government in 2004. That was the move which enabled Mahinda Rajapaksa to contest the Presidential election in November 2005.


Though her charismatic leadership, political maturity she was able to forge wider alliance including the SLFPers to back Maithripala Sirisena enabling him to became the President.

Though she and Maithripala Sirisena could not get the desired number of SLFP Ministers to defect the government she could manage to silence many within the Government and stop them backing Mahinda Rajapaksa’s campaign. They managed to get 15 to 20 percent of SLFPers to vote for Maithripala Sirisena.

The backing of the JHU also came in handy for his victory as Ven. Athuraliaye Rathana Thera and former Minister Champika Ranawaka became key speakers in the election campaign to criticize corruption of the government while the backing of the Sarath Fonseka helped him counter the campaign of the former President on the lines of the war victory.

Apart from the political backing it is noteworthy to mention the role played by the Election Commissioner and his staff to ensure that the elections would be a free and fair. His bold action to stop last minute attempt to mislead the people by electronic media and his bold statement that election violence will not tolerated at any cost gave a strong message to the people and the political parties to stick to the election laws. Above all one factor that had helped Maithripala Sirisena victorious at the election was the wise thinking of the people on President Rajapaksa’s desire to go for a third term. Many of the wise thinking people were of the opinion that he should respectfully quit from his position after serving two full terms of Presidency.

Only then will people respect him for whatever the good he has done for the country. That thinking especially among professionals and the young generation put an end to his regime. It is now the turn of President Maithripala Sirisena and his team to act on their words and direct the country on the correct path and make it shine in the world map ending the corruption and nepotism which were the hallmarks of the previous regime.


LANKAPUVATH - National News Agency of Sri Lank
Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL)
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