Politics & Current Affairs

Rajapaksa blames non-sinhala voters for his defeat

Ousted President Mahinda Rajapaksa told that constituents from Tamil and Muslim dominated regions of Sri Lanka should be held responsible for his downfall.

Speaking to a large gathering of supporters following his defeat, at his ancestral home in the southern village of Medamulana 200 kilometers  away from the capital, Rajapaksa said, "We lost because of votes from the North East and the plantations". Rajapaksa who claimed that it is 'not a problem,' said that he 'respects democracy'.

Tamils and Muslims are the dominant nationalities in the north and east of Sri Lanka while the majority of plantation workers are Tamils of Indian origin.

Maithripala Sirisena was sworn in as the new executive president after defeating Rajapaksa who called a snap poll seeking a mandate for a third term in office. President Sirisena won  by almost 4,50, 000 votes in an election that saw the Tamil dominated North and East of the country overwhelmingly backing him. A large number of Muslims are also concentrated in the East. Former President Rajapaksa led in the Sinhala dominated South.

The leading Tamil political party has emphasised the urgency in providing a solution to the national question. In a message congratulating the new president, Tamil National Alliance (TNA) Leader Rajavarodhayam Sampanthan said that an 'honourable solution' to the national question is among the 'many grave issues' President Sirisena has to address. The TNA leader says that it will "enable the Tamil speaking people of Sri Lanka to be true beneficiaries of democracy.”

Although Maithripala Sirisena was voted in by over 70 percent of voters in the North and East, only 48.54% from the rest of the country have chosen him as their leader. While Mahinda Rajapaksa has managed to get 24.32% of the North and East votes, over half of the Sinhala dominated electorate has voted to give him a third term in office.

TNA parliamentarian Suresh Premachandran hopes that the newly elected president 'will not forget that he managed to become the leader of the country owing to a massive Tamil vote from the north and east'. Speaking to JDS he said that Maithripala has a duty to address many crucial issues affecting Tamils.

He identified resettlement, land grabs, political prisoners, dissapearances and militarisation as problems that Tamils face in their day to day lives.  Saying that 'not withdrawing the military is an obstruction on the path to democratisation of the north,' Premachandran emphasised that it will in turn 'hamper the implementation of the hundred day programme for good governance'.

Sirisena had promised to root out corruption and bring constitutional reforms to weaken the power of the presidency including transferring  many of its executive powers to parliament, within hundred days after taking office. However, his accelerated programme does not contain any settlement of the national question.

Addressing the public following his swearing in, Maithripala pledged to bring  'freedom, democracy,  sovereignty of the people and rule of law' to the country.

TNA leader R Sampanthan told journalists that he will 'consider' being a partner of a new government formed under President Sirisena 'if invited'.

Meanwhille, the chief minister of the Northern province believes that the new president 'will not neglect or ignore the needs and welfare of minorities'.

In a statement o the media Chief Minister CV Vigneswaran says that the president has 'the obligation to protect and reassure the Muslims who have been subjected to attacks by religious fanatics'.

© JDS

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Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka

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