Posted on 09-01-2015
Filed Under (Foreign Policy) by Rashtrakut

World news was understandably distracted by the events in France the last few days.  It overshadowed a surprise election upset in Sri Lanka last night.  Its been a few years since this blog discussed the authoritarian President Rajapaksa of Sri Lanka who has spent the years following the end of the civil war suppressing dissent and trying to create a political dynasty.  In the triumphalism that followed the destruction of the LTTE, Rajapaksa spent almost no time in healing the divided nation and chose to ignore the reasons the war started in the first place.  The last few years Sri Lanka has been approaching pariah status, with Rajapaksa unwanted at international summits.

Yet even with his corrupt nepotistic despotism he remained very popular with the Sinhalese majority and called early elections in November expecting to win.  It seemed the plan would work until his former health minister entered the race, challenged the despot and won.  Rajapaksa has gracefully admitted defeat, ceding the stage to the new President Maithripala Sirisena.

Sirisena appears to have cannily capitalized on resentment among Sri Lanka’s minority groups and people turned off by the Rajapaksa clan taking control of all parts of government.  Yet, it is not clear whether he will bring any relief to Sri Lanka’s struggling minority groups.  Ethnic tension on the divided island could flare up allowing for a return of Rajapaka back to power, like Daniel Ortega did in Nicaragua.  Hopefully Sirisena bridges the gap that proved to be a chasm to far for Rajapaksa to leap – from politician to statesman.

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