Citing the striking similarities with the political climate in Guyana and Sri Lanka, Alliance for Change, (AFC) Executive Member Moses Nagamootoo has said that the people of Sri Lanka are the perfect example of the change a unified population can obtain given the triumph of the country’s opposition candidate, Maithripala Sirisena at that country’s recent General Elections.
Last week, Sri Lankans went to the polls and elected a new government. According to media reports, the win was a “refreshing one,” for the country, given that the South Asian nation had been under the rule of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa since 2005. He was seeking a third term in office.
Rajapasksa’s supporters had credited him with ending the civil war and boosting the economy, but his critics said he had become increasingly authoritarian and corrupt.
As such, Sirisena, his one-time ally and Minister of Government, won 51.3% of the votes. He was backed by an all-encompassing opposition group called the New Democratic Front.
Information posted on the World Wide Web described Sri Lanka as having a diverse population. Various communities profess four of the world’s major religions: Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity. The major ethnic groups include the Sinhalese and the Sri Lankan Tamils, who compose 74 and 12.6 percent of the population, respectively. Additionally, Indian Tamils make up 5.5 percent of the population (and view themselves as separate from the Sri Lankan Tamils) with “Moors”, or Muslims making up 7.1 percent.
The population consists of other people of mixed European and Sri Lankan descent (0.4 percent), Malays (0.4 percent), and tiny percentages of others including the island’s aboriginal Veddahs.
Nagamootoo in his comments on the outcome of the General Elections in Sri Lanka noted that despite the ethnic and religious diversity in the South Asian country, the Sri Lankan people were not intimidated by the dictatorial Rajapaska regime, hence they acquired change through unity.
“In Sri lanka, like Guyana, you have different types of ethnicities. You have the Tamils and the Sinhalese, the Muslims and the Buddhist…. But how could you change from an authoritarian, despotic regime that was going for third consecutive term in power? By unity,” he expressed.
The AFC Parliamentarian further noted that Sri Lankans not only obtained a new government but defeated a party which shared similar policies of the current PPP administration.
“Rajapaska in Sri Lanka had the same tendencies and the same notoriety as the Jadgeo and Ramotar Government. They are both corrupt, prone to nepotism and have their cronies and families occupying strategic places in state and taking control of the resources,” he explained.
Moreover, Nagamootoo said the former Sri Lankan President had abused state resources to carry out his campaigns for a third term in office by utilizing the state owned transportation and by dominating the media.
“I would have expected early on that the elections would have been free but not fair… And I would say so about the one in Guyana because I have seen the manner in which the resources in Guyana are being used by the political party in power, the PPP, hence the reason for saying there is no level playing field in Guyana.”
Nagamootoo essentially called on all Guyana to follow the example in Sri Lanka at the upcoming elections.
He expressed that weeks before elections, nobody thought that the Rajapaska regime could be defeated, but Sirisena, a former Defense and Health Minister from his own party who had resigned after witnessing the excess spending and corruption, was able to obtain victory.
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