The Government in the afterglow of its victory in last Saturday’s elections to three provincial councils, must be aware of the need for magnanimity and humility in victory just as we must have courage and determination in defeat. The Government also needs to look at the results soberly and realistically without being carried away by the sickening propaganda of state media stooges who blow up the victory as outstanding and annihilation of the main opposition political parties.
Instead of comparing the results with the 2008 PC elections, a more realistic comparison would be with the 2010 parliamentary elections. The UNP’s vote base at the 2010 parliamentary elections was reduced to less than 20%. Last Saturday, a divided UNP increased its vote base to almost 35% in the districts of Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Kegalle and Ratnapura.
Apparently one of the main aims of the government was to show the world that it still has support from the people. A delegation from the United Nations Human Rights Council is now in Sri Lanka for talks with various parties including civic action groups on the extent to which the Government is implementing the US-sponsored resolution which was approved by the UNHRC in March. The resolution called for the implementation of the main recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC). It also urged the Government to address accountability issues relating to alleged war crimes during the last stages of the war. The Government has submitted a comprehensive report on these issues to the UNHCR, and it will be taken up at the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) next month. The UPR will be carried out by a committee chaired by India and comprising Spain and Benin, which had voted for the US resolution on Sri Lanka. So an adverse report on Sri Lanka is possible, and all the election propaganda by the state media is not likely to impress or influence the international community because most countries are well aware of what is happening.
The blatant violations of election laws through the abuse of state funds and human resources, the thousands of illegal appointments given to graduates, the violence and thuggery in the Eastern Province are widely known in India and the West though the news is toned down or suppressed here. So instead of gloating over the results, the Government needs to address key issues. One is the abolition of the all-powerful executive presidency. The movement for social justice and other groups are saying democracy cannot be restored and free elections cannot be held until the executive presidency is abolished. All opposition parties must also insist on this before any more elections are held. Even the reconciliation process of finding a just and fair political solution to the ethnic conflict could be achieved faster if there is consensus and accommodation on the middle path instead of decisions being taken by one all-powerful person or family.