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Asian Tribune is published by E-LANKA MEDIA(PVT)Ltd. Vol. 20 No. 78

Enigmatic Sri Lanka elections

[b]Enigmatic Sri Lanka elections[/b]

By Vinod Vedi & M Rama Rao - Syndicate Features

The dominant feature of the presidential elections in Sri Lanka is the transparent schism between the “Bandaranaike dynasty” as represented by incumbent President Chandrika Kumaratunga and her own Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse who is seeking to fill a perceived vacuum caused by the constitutional demarche that she cannot seek re-election at the expiry of her second tenure.

Chandrika Kumaratunga did try to extend her stay in office but was overruled by the Supreme Court which ordered the mid-November elections so that the new president would take office when her tenure expires. However, her contretemps with Rajapakse go beyond the personal to what she considers an undercutting of the entire philosophy by which she forged the alliance between her Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLF)) and the motley groups of Marxists and Buddhist monks into a coalition called the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA).

Central to that philosophy is her strategy to stitch together a unitary Sri Lanka in which separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) too has a role. P-TOMS, the agreement her government had entered into with LTTE to share responsibility of distributing foreign aid among the Tsunami victims has given respectability and recognition the Tigers have been craving.

Chandrika is irked that Mahinda Rajapakse should throw in his lot with the Marxists of the Janatha Vimukti Perumuna (JVP) and the Buddhist monks of the National Heritage Party (JHU). These two groups have stalled the implementation of P-TOMS by withdrawing from the coalition against its implementation. And the donors had the excuse not to deliver on their promise of contributing to the relief effort.

That she has refused to campaign for Rajapakse underscores the depth of her opposition to the pre-poll pacts forged by him with the JVP and the JHU. Her fear is that the Sri Lanka Freedom Party which her illustrious father and mother led with distinction on a centrist political position would be pushed into the ultra-nationalist camp.

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