November 20, 2005Foreign Affairs

The president of one half of Sri Lanka?

What Mahinda Rajapakse’s electoral victory means for Sri Lanka

This is an archived blog post from The Acorn.

Morquendi, over at Nittewa (that excellent Sri Lankan blog), points out that the election of Mahinda Rajapakse has deepened the divide between the Sinhala and Tamil citizens of Sri Lanka, with potentially dire consequences for that country’s unity.

While this has been a huge victory for Mahinda, it has dealt a crushing blow to the notion that a united, not unitary, Sri Lanka is possible. We now have a President in the South elected solely by voters from the South and we have the LTTE led by Prabhakaran. The LTTE wants its Eelam and the orange robed cronies who haunt Mahinda want their Dhramarajya, or Helabima or whatever they chose to call is. [Nittewa]

The LTTE had a major hand in engineering Rajapakse’s victory — by preventing voting in the areas under its control, it prevented Tamil voters from voting in favour of Ranil Wickramasinghe. Given Rajapakse’s victory by the narrowest of margins, the LTTEs gambit clearly paid off. Morquendi wonders why the LTTE was interested in such an outcome, for an unstable government in Colombo and hardline Sinhala president don’t augur well for the peace process.

To me it seems like their main intention is to install a unstable Governement in the South and keep it unstable so they can show the rest of the world what a bunch of beep the Sri Lankan Government is. [Nittewa]

Given the LTTEs objective to carve out an Eelam from the northern and eastern parts of Sri Lanka, it is not unfathomable why they should desire outcomes that deepen the divide between the two communities, even if that means an escalation in violence. These elections have polarised Sri Lanka, and the LTTE will be key beneficiary of this polarisation. That a fractious and unstable government in Colombo will appear ineffective is a bonus.

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