Leading article: Sri Lanka's destructive feud

Share
Related Topics

An acrimonious election campaign and a disputed result provides an ominous start for what was meant to be a new era for Sri Lanka, after more than a quarter century of civil war. A country of rich potential had – indeed it still has – the opportunity to make a new beginning, following the conclusive defeat of the Tamil Tiger separatists in 2009. But the vote has underlined the deep and persisting divisions between the minority Tamils and the Sinhalese majority.

There is scant likelihood that the ostensibly clear cut victory of incumbent president Mahinda Rajapaksa will be overturned by the courts as his opponent, the retired general Sarath Fonseka, is demanding. But a huge responsibility now rests upon both men to drop their destructive feud. The loser must accept the outcome, despite evidence of irregularities. And Mr Rajapaksa must fulfil his post-election promise to be the president of all Sri Lankans, Tamils and Muslims included, and not merely of the Sinhalese community which gave him victory.

In the months since the triumph that broke the rebel Tamil Tigers' control of Tamil politics, there have been growing complaints about the president's autocratic style of government, and of nepotism and corruption within its ranks. Such were Tamil anxieties that the Tamil National Alliance, a moderate grouping that had urged a negotiated end to the civil war, actually supported General Fonseka, the man who had led the military campaign in Tamil north and eastern Sir Lanka and a Sinhalese himself, as the one hope of holding Mr Rajapaksa in check.

That hope has come to nothing. Instead there was the disquieting spectacle of armed commandos surrounding the hotel where General Fonseka was staying during the count, ostensibly to protect him, but more pertinently a blunt reminder of where power in Sri Lanka ultimately lies.

The president must now make real moves towards a genuinely democratic and inclusive state. In that case, Sri Lanka may flourish as never before. The alternative is a resurgence of minority grievances against an overweening Sinhalese majority, that might lead to renewed Tamil militancy, perhaps even war.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an excellent, large partially ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Primary Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

Ashdown Group: Lead Web Developer (ASP.NET, C#) - City of London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Lead Web Develo...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Kylie has helped to boost viewing figures for the talent show  

When an Aussie calls you a ‘bastard’, you know you’ve arrived

Howard Jacobson
The number of schools converting to academies in the primary sector has now overtaken those in the secondary sector – 2,299 to 1,884 (Getty)  

In its headlong rush to make a profit, our education system is in danger of ignoring its main purpose

Janet Street-Porter
Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee