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Asian Tribune is published by E-LANKA MEDIA(PVT)Ltd. Vol. 20 No. 108

Sri Lanka’s War on Peace

[b]Sri Lanka’s War on Peace [/b]

By Palitha Senanayaka

Kicking off his campaign for the country's presidential election due in November, the United National Party's Presidential candidate, Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe, accused his rival candidate Mr. Mahinda Rajapakse, now backed by a coalition of political parties for forming an 'anti peace' alliance with parties of 'war mongering' sentiments. Sporting his customary western garb that is 'not quite common place' for politicians in a country that respects its traditions and indigenous values, Wickremesinghe bemoans that 'the peace will be disturbed and the economy will be ruined' if his rival is to succeed the out going president Ms Chandriaka Bandaranaike Kumaratunga to the post of country's President.

Mr. Wickremesinghe's concept of peace did not go well with the electorate last time. His party was elected to office in 2001 with a working majority despite the fact that the Government was headed by the Executive President from the rival political camp.

After two years of he leading the Government where he boasted of coming in to a historic understanding with the LTTE, President Kumaratunge took over three key Ministries in the Wickremesinghe Government, on the grounds of endangering national security. This precipitated a crisis that called for fresh elections. In spite of the fact that in such a situation the sympathy of the electorate was on his side Mr. Wickremesinghe's party ended up getting only 37,8 % of the total polled as against 45 % at the previous election. Going by those results it was clear that the Sri Lankan voters were not buoyed by Mr. Wickremesinghe's handling of the country's affairs. The UNP that was in power for 33 of the country's post independent 57 years could not offer an alternative leader to the country and hence Mr. Wickremesinghe who has lost 11 of the 12 elections the party contested under his leadership is being forwarded as its candidate at the forthcoming elections. He could be doing a bigger disservice for himself if he attempts to portray all those who voted against him (62 %) as 'anti peace'.

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