Upul Joseph Fernando
“If Sirisena wins poll, President and his brothers may try to retain power by resorting to compliant Court or military…” – International Crisis GroupMahinda’s fears must be doubled and trebled in his march towards the Presidential Election. The reason is that Chandrika is behind Maithri. Mahinda having won the 2005 Presidential Election ousted Chandrika from the SLFP leadership on her birthday. Hence, Mahinda fears that Chandrika will not only destroy his political future but also of his kith and kin. That was why even international organizations predict that Mahinda will not give up power even if he is defeated
Last week it was revealed that Mahinda Rajapaksa had met the Bishops’ Conference and assured that he would step down gracefully if he was defeated at the 8 January Presidential Poll in view of the Pope’s visit. However, this assurance looked to have been given at a time the International Crisis Group report was released. The Bishops’ Conference stressed the need to have a peaceful atmosphere in the country for the Pope’s visit.
Mahinda is not new to understand the pains of defeat. He lost his parliamentary seat and the government in 1977. He re-entered Parliament in 1989. In 2001 he lost his ministerial portfolio. However, losing a presidency and the SLFP leadership cannot be equaled to his past pains. When the SLFP won in 1994, former President J.R. Jayewardene who was in retirement feared the SLFP in office as Ms.Sirima Bandaranaike would take revenge on him as he deprived her of her civic rights when he was President. When President D.B. Wijetunga attempted to appoint Ms.Bandaranaike as the Prime Minister, JR instructed DBW to call on Chandrika Kumaratunga to be appointed Prime Minister to overcome the fear of Ms.Bandaranaike trying to take revenge from him.
Mahinda’s fears must be doubled and trebled in his march towards the Presidential Election. The reason is that Chandrika is behind Maithri. Mahinda having won the 2005 Presidential Election ousted Chandrika from the SLFP leadership on her birthday. Hence, Mahinda fears that Chandrika will not only destroy his political future but also of his kith and kin. That was why even international organizations predict that Mahinda will not give up power even if he is defeated. Be that as it may, the South Asian region ‘Big Brother’ India will not permit a military administration in her neighbourhood. If that happens, India will not hesitate to mediate. Indian Security Advisor of Indian Premier Narendra Modi who was in Colombo recently stressed that the Indian Ocean should be a Zone of Peace adding that nothing harmful should happen in the region. India indirectly hinted that a military rule in Sri Lanka would be detrimental to the region.
When Sarath Fonseka won the LTTE, intelligence services reported of a possible military coup in the country. In that backdrop, India came to the assistance of Mahinda. The then Indian High Commissioner in Colombo, Alok Prasad met Mahinda late night and informed him that India was ready send ships to Colombo to help combat such coup and that was reported in the media. If Mahinda is defeated, he is not ignorant to establish a military rule to run the country. What Mahinda fears is that he could be taken before an international tribunal to try him for war crimes. But India will not allow that to happen.
India supported Sri Lanka at the UNHRC against the American sponsored resolution on human rights with the view that if she favoured the resolution, she too could be accused of committing such crimes in Kashmir. So, even if Mahinda is defeated, India will not allow the international tribunals to touch him.
An incumbent President in Sri Lanka had never lost an election. In that backdrop, chances for Mahinda to lose look less. Similarly no other President has ever gone before an election after completing four years of his second term in office when his popularity is on the decline.