Sri Lanka is in a directionless moment of drift - Prof.Uyangoda

[TamilNet, Friday, 13 February 2004, 02:56 GMT]
Third parliamentary elections in four years indicate that Sri Lanka's "political order is unstable, the polity is acutely fragmented, political forces are divided in hostility and the country is in a directionless moment of drift," writes Professor Uyangoda in the Friday edition of Daily Mirror.

The elections in Sri Lanka are not held as a mandatory constitutional requirement or as an opportunity for the electorate to change their representatives. Instead, "they are held because the dominant political forces have failed to resolve their conflicts and antagonisms through post-election institutional processes," says Prof.Uyangoda pointing to Sri Lanka's ailing democracy.

He lists the following three observations as "unusual dimensions" characterizing the dissolution of Sri Lanka's parliament by Ms.Kumaratunge.

Firstly, the failure of the President to consult the PM, and the absence of objections by the PM, reflect the total breakdown of trust and disregard for functioning of democratic institutions. Secondly and the most alarming aspect is the breakdown of talks between the two camps which highlighted that "their antagonisms could no longer be managed through negotiations and peaceful means...it has required some measure of violence. And ironically, parliamentary elections seem to provide them a legitimate space for the deployment of controlled violence against each other's camp."

And thirdly, "Sri Lanka's capitalist ruling elite has found itself capable of defying the wishes and demands of the core of its own class, the entrepreneurial elite," writes Prof. Uyangoda.

Like the year 2003 which was wasted by the Sri Lanka's polity failing to capitalize on the atmosphere of peace, Prof.Uyangoda says, with months lost on political uncertainty, the same fate will befall on the year 2004.

"...the sudden rise of the militant Buddhist nationalism...The systematic violence and threats unleashed against the Christian minority, the clamour for a Buddhist theocratic state, the desire for returning the pre-1815 political order, and the increasing fear propagated in the media of the Sinhalese majority becoming an impotent minority are symptoms of a serious moral crisis that the Theravada Buddhist polity in Sri Lanka appears to be in." These propagate inter-community hatred and further complicate political progress warns the Don.

He places the burden on the Sri Lankan people to prevent Sri Lanka drifting away from democracy by saying, "To have even the minimum degree of political sanity for Sri Lanka, the Sri Lankan people will have to defend peace and democracy in the coming months," by voting for peace and democracy.

Prof. Uyangoda is the Head of the Department of Political Science at Colombo University. He was one of the Marxist rebels who led the armed insurrection to capture state power in 1971. He was incarcerated for many years after the rebellion was ruthlessly crushed by Sri Lankan armed forces.

 

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