2nd January 2000
Now back in power, what will she do?
Ms. Chandrika Kumaratunga’s triumph at the presidential election was not
a clean victory in the full sense of the word, one cannot say the extent
of the abuses committed was so great as to regret her victory. Abuses did
occur in some electoral divisions like Hanguranketha, Wattegama, Wariyapola
However, at the final moment there was an alignment of people’s forces in her favour that would have ensured her victory even without any of these abuses.
Even on the day when election propaganda activities were to cease the president was at a disadvantageous position.
However the attempt on her life at the final propaganda meeting created a strong sympathy for her among the people and led to a reversal of the entire situation in her favour.
Whatever controversies there may have been around her, she was the official head of state. On the other hand, Prabhakaran and the LTTE who tried to destroy her life were perceived as the most hated people at that time.
The people’s anger towards Prabhakaran may have been vented on Ranil because of the statement he had made that Prabhakaran should be allowed to rule over the North for two years and that he was ready to hand over Chandrika to Prabhakaran.
The results of this election also show that the people are not yet ready to forget entirely the atrocities of the UNP’s period of rule.
The results of the postal vote indicated that even before the bomb attack the people had chosen Chandrika over Ranil.
However, Chandrika’s vote exceeded 50% only marginally.
At the presidential election of ’94 she was able to get the vote of 43.05% of the registered votes and 62.28% of the valid votes.
However, at this election she could only get the vote of 38.60% of the total required number of votes and only 51.12% of the valid votes cast.
The drop in the number of votes she got in terms of the total number of registered votes was 6.45% and that in turn of the valid votes cast was 11.16% although in 94 when the number of registered voters was 109 lakhs she was able to get 47 lakhs.
This time, when the number of registered votes had risen to 117 lakhs she has been able to get 43 lakhs only. This shows that even with sympathy, on her side her popularity had shrunk.
There is also no doubt that any new attempts to subdue Prabhakaran militarily would create new problems and aggravate the entire crisis.
A new desire on the president’s part to pressurize a powerful military campaign against the LTTE would be natural.
Anti Prabhakaran forces within the PA would invariably push her towards such an attempt. But the new setbacks suffered on the battlefront would also pose a challenge in such an attempt.
The President had said over and over again that she would implement the Package after the presidential election.
However, among those who crossed over to the PA recently there is a group who do not support the Package.
The inevitable result would be that a conflict would arise between anti-Package and pro-Package groups.
This government also promised that when it comes to power the existing constitution would be abolished and a new constitution already drafted be implemented.
If that is a promise made in good faith, she would have to make up her mind to give up the post of President and to go back to the post of prime minister.
But it is difficult to believe that a leader who had enjoyed the fruits of executive presidency for five years would like to go back to the chair of prime minister.
She made many promises to please the people to come back to power. Increasing the salaries of policeman, giving jobs to the unemployed were just some of them.
Although they were made to get votes, those who voted for her would vote against her party at the coming parliamentary election if she fails to implement those promises fully.
She would have to hold the parliamentary election, sooner or later. If she intends to abolish the executive presidency and to take over the prime ministerial seat, she would have to get a political group which she could control easily.
Although a government parliamentary group could send a president out of power, this could be averted if there is a group who would be loyal to her.
If she has such an intention of giving up the presidency and taking the prime ministerial seat, she will certainly take action to have a group of persons of her own choice at the parliamentary election, as a precautionary measure. She would also have to take action to get rid of people she does not like and cannot control.
However, any effort in that direction would inevitably lead to internal disputes too.
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