Ooh these presidential hopefuls! - EDITORIAL

18 January 2019 12:04 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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overnment ministers, members of parliament and a high-profile individual possessing both US citizenship and a military background, during the past few days, aired views on who should be the next president of Sri Lanka.
The first to let out a positive signal in these lines was former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa who said that he was ready  if people are ready, hinting that he would contest a presidential election in the future.
The political stage right now supports a set-up where the prime minister is more powerful and the president sees some of his powers being stripped of. This is ensured by the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. Some have hailed the 19th Amendment while many others see it as a
flawed document.


All past presidential candidates have spoken about the damage that an ever so powerful president could do to the country, hence the inclusion of a promise in their election manifestos to abolish the role of the Executive. But no president, to date, honoured this aspect of their manifestos, including the present head of state Sirisena.


Given this backdrop it’s a little alarming to know that even Sirisena wants to run for a second term if elected as president.
Be that as it may we also have a new presidential hopeful in former Speaker of Parliament Chamal Rajapaksa also was quoted stating that he wishes to be in the running for the presidency, if there is an election to vote for an executive.


The bottom line to all this is that past presidents, barring J.R Jayewardene and Ranasinghe Premadasa, have begun their terms with a lie; that of abolishing the executive presidency knowing very well that what they don’t have to deliver on this very promise.   
2019 being known as a year of elections, leading political parties like the Sri Lanka Freedom Party and the United National Party are gearing up for a possible Provincial Councils Elections.


On the other hand UNP Minister Harin Fernando was quoted in newspapers saying that the grand old party was too gearing up for the provincial councils elections. Fernando said was in response to the call made by President Sirisena urging his party followers to prepare for this election.
The UNP suffered a morale denting defeat at the last Local Government Elections which the newly formed Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) emerged as a strong force, winning the largest share of votes.


But after that election so much has happened in the political scene. Much of the hard work done by Mahinda Rajapaksa after being ousted as president seemed to have dented after he teamed up with Sirisena and formed a Government, which didn’t have the required majority to continue. Rajapaksa is a lawyer himself and should have known better. He later resigned as premier, but his political career was dented as a result of accepting the premiership.
There is talk that the SLFP and the SLPP would form a broad alliance before coming forward as a force at future elections. SLFP’s Dayawansa Ariyatilake has boasted that the ‘blue party’ would be strengthened due to 20 odd organisations throwing their weight behind them.


The UNP needs to play its cards right to remain in power. The UNP’s propaganda machine is working 24x7 in aggressive attempts to showcase what they’ve been doing during the past. Very recently the UNP received much publicity for completing the ‘land reclamation’ stage of the Colombo Port City project which cost Rs 2742 billion (US $ 15 billion). The minister in charge of the project Champaka Ramanayake had a spring in his walk during the ceremony where the facility was declared open. But one of his recent posts on social media (Facebook) saw Ranawaka showing more interest to comment on the future of Sri Lankan politics, rather than on the completed segment of the Colombo Port City project. The minister has said that the SLFP and UNP should form a broad alliance in the future and establish a national force which would make this island corruption-free by 2020. A proposal to form any alliance which promises to rid this nation of corruption is food for
thought for voters!

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