Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Update from Sri Lanka Part I

By Ru Freema
Jan. 27, 2010

It is 3.20pm now and we are awaiting the announcement by the Commissioner of Elections confirming results. There are rumors being spread by SMS within Sri Lanka - and, I'm sure, abroad - that Sarath Fonseka is being threatened. He is at the Trans Asia hotel. I went there and had no trouble getting through - the streets are not closed off, although there is questioning of drivers and searching of vehicles coming into the hotel parking lot. Sources close to the President say that they have posted the STF to protect him and the hotel, a justifiable concern since there are some elements abroad and here who would like there to be some kind of ruckus here. It is by no means some kind of blockade and there is media presence there complete with cameras - hardly the kind of thing that would be happening if this was state mandated terror!

The promised violence and voter fraud etc. did not happen. In fact, Ranil Wickramasinghe is reported in today's paper as having made a public statement thanking the government and security forces for ensuring fair polling. We should do our part not to spread rumors and stir up trouble. The streets are quiet - it is also Poya today - but very calm. There is no tension apparent anywhere that I have been and I drove around quite a bit and was never stopped by the forces anywhere, not even when driving past the Trans Asia twice within a few minutes with my camera quite visible as I took photographs. Breaking news this minute says that Ranil W. is about to speak however state media is banned from the session. The government has announced that they will crack down on any people trying to disrupt the peace.

Mahinda Rajapaksa has won by a clear and definite margin. This is by no means a close election. It is an election in which the opposition miscalculated the extent to which they could manipulate the rural voter who, in defiance, came out to support the President instead. It is obvious now that Mahinda has a mandate to continue his work for a second term. Our work is cut out for us: help in the reconstruction of the country, engage each of our communities in discussion (within the Diaspora), and support the President in fixing the things that are wrong or broken within Sri Lanka.

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