The Presidential election is over. The poll was
exceptionally peaceful. Except for a few minor incidents it was
on the whole violence free. This has been acknowledged by the
returning officers and even the Opposition Leader. Prophets of
doom have been proved wrong. Both local and foreign media was
full of scare stories in the run up to the poll. They said that
large-scale violence was likely and that election would be
rigged. Some of them even went to the extent of alleging that
the Government would deny victory to the Opposition by staging a
Certainly, it was an attempt to gather international public
opinion against the Government and the country and justify
foreign interference using R2P and other pretexts. Certain
sections of the Opposition, in the meantime were talking of mass
protests as in Teheran and Manila. The ground was being prepared
to carry out an Orange Revolution as successfully tested in
several East European countries.
The high sense of civic consciousness shown by the mass of
voters and their steadfast vigil and commitment to exercise
their suffrage undeterred foiled all such sinister plots. It’s
the silent majority that decided the outcome of the election and
saved the country from dangerous consequences. The total overall
voter presence was as high as 70 percent.
A Presidential poll in most Western countries, in contrast,
usually registers much less voter participation. Even in the
United States, voter participation in Presidential elections was
less than 50 percent, barring the last election in which
President Barack Obama was elected.
Those Western gurus who want to teach lessons in democracy to
under-developed nations should remember that Sri Lankans have
the experience of universal suffrage much earlier than most of
them. The maturity and wisdom of their decision could be
properly assessed only in relation to what would have happened
if the wishes of Sri Lanka’s detractors came true.
The credit for conducting a free and fair poll should first
of all go to the Elections Commissioner and his staff, the
Police and the Security Forces and the political leadership of
the country. The excellent security arrangements and the
professionalism of the Police Force contributed much in
preventing violation of election regulations and facilitated the
maintenance of law and order on polls eve and thereafter too.
The victory attained is not personal to President Mahinda
Rajapaksa. It was a victory of the people and a victory for
democracy just as it was a victory for him.
For President Mahinda Rajapaksa and the UPFA the victory is a
vindication of the policy followed hitherto. It is also a
vindication of the President’s decision to go to the polls two
years ahead of schedule. In justifying his decision to advance
the Presidential election the President said that it was done to
give an opportunity to all people, including those in the North
and East to elect their leader in an atmosphere devoid of fear
and intimidation. The voters did just that and have reciprocated
the trust placed in them by the President.
The victory is also a massive vote of confidence in the
policies pledged to be carried out in the next term of office of
the President. As the Mahinda Chintana Idiri Dekma explains the
foremost among these pledges are the tasks of taking the country
to the status of a developed country and the solution of the
National Problem through maximum consensus.
The abolition of the Executive Presidency and its replacement
by a Presidency responsible to Parliament, the elimination of
corruption and wastage, the protection of the country’s
sovereignty and territorial integrity in face of external
threats also should attract prior attention in the next term.
To sum up, the victory should ensure a better future for the
people and the country as promised.