People Desired Change of Political Culture: Ranil Wickremesinghe
COLOMBO: The defeat of incumbent Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa and the victory of the joint opposition candidate Maithripala Sirisena in the January 8 Lankan Presidential election, represents a popular yearning for a radical change in the political culture of the island nation, said the Leader of the Opposition in the Lankan parliament, Ranil Wickremesinghe.
Addressing newspersons here on Friday, Wickremesinghe, whose United National Party (UNP) was the main prop of Sirisena’s hurriedly put together National Democratic Front (NDF), said that Lankans wanted “an end to mal governance and the politics of revenge.”
The opposition leader did not take questions and clarify his remarks, but it was clear that he was referring to the way Rajapaksa treated Gen.Sarath Fonseka, Army Commander and hero of Eelam War IV, and Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranaike, when he talked of “politics of revenge”.
Both Fonseka and Bandaranaike were sacked after a mock trial and a manipulated impeachment. Fonseka was stripped of his rank and medals, tried, and jailed for treason, when all he did was dare take on Rajapaksa in the 2010 Presidential election. Fonseka had subsequently joined the Sirisena camp, and Sirisena has promised to restore his rank, medals and status.
Justice Shirani Bandaranaike was impeached for alleged financial impropriety when in fact she was removed for not toeing the government’s line and calling for a federal constitution to accommodate the Tamils’ interests.
Rajapaksa’s second term, which began in 2010, was marked by an unprecedented concentration of power in the hands of the Executive President, his immediate and extended family, and a small coterie around him. Relations and cronies with no formal qualifications or experience were appointed to high profile offices despite public opposition.
The media was brought in line by manipulating the proprietors and threatening journalists. It was in Rajapaksa’s time that fearless top journalists like Lasantha Wickramatunge of The Sunday Leader and freelance journalist D.Sivaram were murdered. These cases are yet to be solved. Cartoonist Prageeth Eknaligoda who disappeared some years ago, is still to be traced. Under international pressure, Commissions of Inquiry were appointed to investigate allegations of human rights violations and war crimes, but from the way these commissions functioned it was clear that rendering justice was not their objective.