What did the five fingers say to the face? SLAP.
President Maithripala Sirisena hasn’t spoken much this election, but he’s made it count. It doesn’t get any clearer than this:
“From the private conversations that you [Mahinda Rajapaksa] have been having with our party members, it is clear that you are still spewing hatred and anger and you are full of yourself,” Sirisena said. “I am sorry that you have not spiritually gained from the time you spent in temples.” (EconomyNext)
For a longer but still incomplete translation, check out NewsFirst.
In the letter, President Sirisena clearly says that he won’t appoint Mahinda Rajapaksa as Prime Minister, that if the UPFA wins he will select someone more senior in the party. Since Mahinda treated the Prime Minister’s post as a retirement home, it’s hard for him to complain.
Now Mahinda can’t just win, he has to win by a landslide to claim a mandate and prevent defections from within his own party. Indeed, the message he got was delivered on party letterhead.
You’d almost feel bad, if he wasn’t running such an ugly campaign. Mahinda began by blaming minorities for his loss (as if their votes didn’t count) and – not content to alienate Tamils and Muslims – his supporters have been attacking Christians and calling UNPers Christian as if that were an insult. In Sri Lanka you can piss off one minority at a time, but not all of them. The amount of people that are that bigoted is, thankfully, a minority in itself. In his letter Maithripala warned Mahinda against inciting communalism like this, for the betterment of the country.
A Fallen Man
Mahinda rose through the party and the ballot, from MP to Minister to Leader of the Opposition to President. He rose as far as a public servant can go and he could have retired with dignity and respect. Instead, he now appears to us as a man laid low by greed. It’s almost a caricature of spiritual downfall, someone consumed by ignorance, attachment and anger. He was servant but he forgot that he was just a temporary steward of our trust. He changed our laws to enlarge his power, he ignored institutions (including his own party) and he surrounded himself with bad people and sycophants. He got drunk on power and he fell.
It would be a cause for pity if he wasn’t trying to bring these poisons into the government of our country. I’ve been following his campaign and it’s incoherent. There’s nothing there besides his face and ‘remember the war’. It’s the same people around him, the same greed, the same fear-mongering, the same pride.
Maithripala is in the right (both ethically and legally) to deny him the Prime Ministerial post, whatever the outcome of the election. Personally, however, I hope that the President doesn’t have to make that choice. I hope that the Sri Lankan voter can see and choose for themselves.