Similarities between Mauritius and Sri Lanka elections

Less than a month after we had general elections in Mauritius, another Commonwealth country, Sri Lanka, organised Presidential election. Are there similarities between the two elections?
Mauritians are very much aware of all the events that happened before, during and after the 10 December 2014 elections, but they may not know much about the Presidential election in Sri Lanka on the 8th January 2015. So, I shall give a broad picture of what took place in Sri Lanka, hoping that readers will easily find the commonalities as they go through this article.
Mahinda Rajapaksa won his first mandate as President of Sri Lanka in 2005 and a second one in 2010. The Constitution provided for a maximum of two terms. He managed to amend the Constitution to enable him to run for a third mandate. In this process, the Judiciary expressed the view that Rajapaksa was not entitled to stand as a candidate for a third term as the Constitutional amendment was passed after he had served his second term. The ruling Party decided to impeach the former Chief Justice and appointed an ally, a former Attorney General as Chief Justice. The independence of the Judiciary thus took a severe blow.
Although the Presidential term is six years, Rajapaksa called for earlier election in 2010 after defeating the Tamil Tigers and ending a 26-year old civil war. He capitalised on that defeat to secure his win for a new term. Ironically, it was his main opponent, General  Fonseka, who led the Sri Lankan army in the last phase of the civil war and was acclaimed as the National hero. After the elections, Rajapaksa ordered Fonseka’s arrest on a number of charges.
When Rajapaksa decided again to call for earlier election for 8 January 2015 he thought he could bank heavily on the army, police, civil service, other government institutions and all the parties within his ruling coalition, the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA). He was comforted by the fact that the Opposition Alliance, the United National Party (UNP) would be fragmented and be unable to choose a candidate of calibre to confront him. He thought that his victory was a foregone conclusion. What happened resembled very much the Mauritian scenario.
A number of important Ministers resigned from the Cabinet and reinforced the ranks of the Opposition. One prominent personality was the former Minister of Health, Mr Maithripala Sirisena who was later chosen as the undisputed UNP candidate to oppose Rajapaksa. More influential personalities and sectoral parties, including Muslim organisations, withdrew support from UPFA to stand by the side of Sirisena. To crown it all, a few days before the Presidential election, the largest Tamil political party (The Tamil National Alliance) endorsed Sirisena’s candidature, thereby creating a wave of dynamism beyond expectation. Even Nature decided to play a part in the last two weeks before the election. Several floods hit the North and Eastern parts of Sri Lanka, causing heavy casualties and displacement of the population. The ensuing failure of the Rajapaksa government to respond adequately to the sad plight of the flood victims was severely criticised by the Opposition.
Despite the drawbacks, Rajapaksa remained confident of winning as he unrolled a number of dirty tricks from his troubled mind. I shall mention only a few:
(a) Using the army to quell the Opposition turnouts by setting road blocks and preventing people to vote in selected areas.  
(b) Opposition houses were attacked and burnt down. Other Opposition figures were targeted in shooting incidents.
(c) Gross misuse of State television and blocking of Opposition TV station.
(d) Repeated attacks on newspapers.
(e) Senior government officers campaigned openly and actively for Rajapaksa. Other government employees were asked to pull up posters of Rajapaksa all over.
(f) Several high ranking diplomats were recalled to support Rajakapsa on the ground.

When the people voted in Mauritius in December last they wanted to get rid of the Ramgoolam government. Much is too much, they said. In Sri Lanka, despite his impressive government machinery, Rajapaksa lost the election to Sirinesa. The people have spoken. Sirinesa was elected as the 6th President of Sri Lanka.
However, more was revealed about Rajapaksa’s machinations when it became clear that he would be defeated. Before the results were announced, it was alleged that he had a meeting with his Minister of Defence (his own brother), the head of the army and chief of Police. He wanted to stage a coup d’état, annul the election results and declare a state of emergency, but his plan did not work and he had to concede defeat.
The installation of the new President provoked a flurry of sackings and dismissals. Those who felt more vulnerable, including the former Minister of Economic Development (another brother of Rajapaksa) chose to flee the country while those who were abroad and persecuted by the former government happily returned home. Here in Mauritius, there is the case of one lady who fled the country on counting day.
It must be put on record that relations between the UN and the Rajapaksa government worsened during the recent years as the latter paid no heed to the repeated requests of UN for independent investigations into gross abuse of human rights in the civil war. After the elections, the UN Secretary General congratulated Sirisena and encouraged him to implement democratic reforms for good governance and anti corruption measures. For his part, Sirisena announced that a special Unit would be instituted to investigate large scale corruption during the Rajapaksa regime. Isn’t that happening here too?


Commentaires

It is a real shame for a Former Chief Executive to have such a skewed view of comparative and International politics. In spite of gross mismanagement in Mauritius and a few cases of corruption, Mauritius has always been rated as one of the best countries in the field of Human Rights and Governance in Africa and Asia. How can a person who pretends to be a top intellectual compare holocaust which took place in srilanka with the mauritian situation. More than 100,000 Tamils were massacred . This gentleman surely wants a nomination as Vice President or Ambassador on the corpses of Tamils who have been raped , tortured and killed.

Dear Mr.Krish Ponnusamy;I'm a Mauritian working in Sri Lanka for the past 11 months and I totally agree with your analysis of the similarities between Mauritius and Sri Lanka.
Je dirai même que les similarités ne se limitent pas aux élections.
Je vous confirme aussi que les enquêtes concernant les nombreuses allegations de corruption ont déjà démarré.
Je me ferai un plaisir de vous rencontrer si vous le souhaitez lors de mon prochain passage au pays.
Keep it up Mr.Krish.

non monsieur. il n'y a pas de similarités entre ce qui c'est passé pour a maurice et sri lanka. bien qu'en etant un de ceux qui ont eu ras le bol de l'ancien gouvernment et qui ont vote massivement pour le nouveau, je refuse de faire l'amalgame entre maurice et sri lanka. a maurice les elections se sont deroule dans le calme et le processus democratique a ete respecter par tous (l'appareil de l'etat). aussi oui il y a plusieurs enquetes qui sont ouvertes pour faire la lumiere sur les maldonnes de l'ancien govt. mais au sri lanka, on ne parle pas de "maldones" labas. ce sont des cas de "crime contre l'humanité" qui vont etre enquetés. on peut ne pas etre d'accord avec ce que l'ancien govt de ncr a fait. mais on ne peut non plus comparer ses actions avec les actiosn du govt de Rajapaksa qui est soupconner d'avoir diriger le massacre de plusieurs milliers de sri-lankais. ces comparaisons sont injustifiés..