Let The People Of Sri Lanka Decide
Rackchart Wong-Arthichart is a writer from Thailand who is travelling in Sri Lanka, for an outreach. He observes, interacts with communities, to experience the impact of social marginalization and culture. He shares his thoughts on this blog.
Follow him on Twitter: @oh_kub----
Politics in Sri Lanka is very interesting. After liberation from colonist Britain, Sri Lanka has been engulfed in civil war for 30 years between Sinhala, the majority and Tamil, the minority who live in the East and North of the country.
|Common to see overdose of public relation from ruling party (pic: Rackchart)|
Mahinda Rajapaksa, the leader who finished the war (by killing all the rebels) is the current president of the country. He gained many of supporters because of this.
The Law of Sri Lanka allows the president to sit in the chair of power for six years but only for a limit of two terms. Rajapaksa is standing for a third term, and is widely unpopular with the minority groups.
In his first term, he appointed his own people in the hierarchy, in every sector within the influential civil services. Politicians, members of parliament, senior military officers, they all supported him, empowering him with an absolute, executive power.
Academics advertising their support for the Sri Lanka govt in local press. Election. Pic by @oh_kub pic.twitter.com/gwzCnlp32R
— Zashnain Zainal (@bedlamfury) January 5, 2015
In the second term he called for an early election, but not before he declared an emergency implementation (which can be done within 7 days) of the 18th amendment, which stated that the presidency term has no limit.
|War of the posters (pic: Rackchart)|
|Supporters of the opposition party, campaigning door to door (pic: Rackchart)|
|Public waiting for free food, distributed by ruling party (pic: Rackchart)|
This early election is happening because Rajapaksa’s power is in severe decline after almost 10 years in office. He wants to change all, within the cabinet and to justify his power by the electoral process. He then selected the election commissioners by himself within the executive power of of a president.
This election is interesting, a point that will show the thoughts and hopes of Sri Lanka's people.
The leader of the opposition party himself was a minister of the government. He just resigned three weeks before nomination. Will this be prove the decline of Rajapaksa regime? As Election Day is coming soon, the violence, the intimidations occur more and more.
Sri Lanka opposition office vandalised by four people @ 2am. No reported injuries. Galenbindunuwewa. Pic by @oh_kub pic.twitter.com/5kSTCpiUKp
— Zashnain Zainal (@bedlamfury) January 3, 2015
71,000 police personnel, including 5000 Special Task Force personnel will be deployed while 55 riot squads too will be on standby. #SriLankaI’ve witnessed many violations from the ruling party. They are desperately trying to win the election. The election law here is very unique, such as after the presidential nomination, there must be no poster, cut-out, or any advertisement, or leaflet from the candidates or parties in the street. And the police have the duty to remove all of it. However it seemed like this law does not apply to the ruler’s party.
— Oh Wong-Arthichart (@oh_kub) January 4, 2015
In the street, I’ve seen so many posters of Rajapaksa along with the local leader. Even some of it was removed; the new one will be seen suddenly. Meanwhile, the public campaigning materials of the opposition party were all removed.
As my journey continues, I meet more Sri Lankans, from both sides of the political divide. Those who want change to the government and those who support the ruling party and its national policies. Many are excited and anxious about the upcoming election, and their hopes for social justice and their basic rights to be addressed. I hope that the people themselves are able to chart their own future through a free and fair election.