How Democracy got Derailed in Sri Lanka

My only grievance is that the democracy that got derailed in 2004 has not regained its original position. What had happened today is a lesson for people like Mr. Sampanthan, Senathirajah and such others.

by V.Anandasangaree

( November 1, 2018, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) I seek the pardon of my countryman for making this statement at a time when the country is in an unprecedented confused state. As one of the most senior politician, having been in active politics for over sixty years, I have a duty to express my frank opinion on some matters and about certain individuals. Democracy as defined by Abraham Lincoln is, government of the people for the people and by the people. Democratic rule is the rule of the majority with the consent of the minority. I don’t claim that 100% democracy prevailed in Sri Lanka throughout. There had been instances of minor violations and some serious ones too. But most of our people had forgotten and some pretend to be not knowing that democracy in this country get completely derailed at the general election that took place on 2nd April 2004. At that time the whole country should have risen in revolt to demand a re-poll. But what happened was, requests made by the monitoring teams both local and foreign for a re-poll, was turned down. Democracy never faced such a disasterous situation ever before in our country. The government at this time had a duty to rectify the situation but it did not take any action due to some interested persons’ intervention.

No Party from the south was allowed to contest in the north at the General Election held in 2004. A group committed to violence prevented all parties except the TNA, from engaging in any form of propaganda. Even paid paper advertisements, were not allowed. One candidate who lost in the morning got declared elected in the evening. Impersonation at this election was so high that one candidate polled more than 120,000 votes. Many others also polled unusually high. The TNA leadership, M/S R. Sampanthan and Mavai Senathirajah should take full responsibility for this situation. The democracy that got buried at that election still remains buried. The most honorable action the TNA leadership should have taken was to call for a fresh election. It may not be out of place to mention that the entire TULF members of Parliament, numbering 18 quit office in 1983 protesting against the decision of the government, at that time, to extend the term of office of Parliament by a further period of 6 years by a referendum.

The same group that contested the General Election in 2010 polled about 10 to 15% of the votes and won 14 seats. But at this election also democracy did not regain its original position. It is at this stage only some interested parties thought of “Government of Good Governance”. It is again the TNA that had gained prominence to the extent of gaining a place in the National Executive Council, which according to the government sources had wider powers than the cabinet itself. This helped the TNA to gain many seats in Parliament. Instead of getting expelled from Parliament for this grave crime of meddling with the people’s democratic rights, Mr. R. Sampanthan securing a place in the National Executive Council appeared to have been rewarded for destroying democracy in the North and East at the 2004 election. Getting appointed as leader of opposition is another feather in his cap. In such a situation how can we expect democracy to thrive in this country.

Although much could be said about the selfish attitude of the TNA leadership, with what has been mentioned here, it is very clear that the TNA had been more interested in promoting the ITAK (Federal Party) than in finding an acceptable solution to the ethnic problem. I am not trying to fish in troubled waters. I am also not taking this opportunity to redress my grievances which are no more a secret. My only grievance is that the democracy that got derailed in 2004 has not regained its original position. What had happened today is a lesson for people like Mr. Sampanthan, Senathirajah and such others. They should not meddle with the fundamental rights of the people. The solution to the present controversy should be worked out by the parties concerned. As a first step 3 persons in the TNA whom the people are well aware of should quit Parliament and leave it to people who are dedicated to the cause.

V. Anandasangaree is the Secretary-General, Tamil United Liberation Front


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