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Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Design Election Manifestos for Post-Election Problem Solving

Press release.

The dissolution of Parliament became necessary due to the political deadlock between the government and opposition.  The UNP-led government appointed by President Maithripala Sirisena was unable to get through the necessary legislation to govern effectively.  The president was not able to deliver on some of the important promises he made in his election manifesto, including the passage of the 20th Amendment and the Right to Information Act due to the lack of cooperation between the government and opposition.  As a result most of the unresolved issues that existed prior to the presidential election continue to be relevant, such as the need for a Freedom of Information Act.   In particular, the main conflict that Sri Lanka has grappled with since its independence, the ethnic conflict, remains unresolved. The chances of a durable peace in Sri Lanka will be slim as long as feuding politicians do not resolve the issues but use the unresolved conflict as part of their political arsenal.

The brief lived UNP-led government that was formed after the presidential election gave an indication   of the progress that is possible in taking the country in a new direction in terms of conflict transformation.   In particular, the lifting of the fear psychosis that held society in thrall and the steps towards the reintegration of the ethnic and religious minorities into the mainstream of society were virtually instantaneous, due to the shift in the policy and outlook of the new president and the government.  Both of them publicly acknowledged the multi ethnic and multi religious nature of the polity and the value of adhering to internationally recognised systems of good governance.

General elections are expected to take place in mid August.  Election campaigns provide the greatest opportunity for public education.  The National Peace Council urges the political parties to address the key issues that Sri Lanka as a country needs to resolve in their party manifestos.  These are the issues of a just political solution to the ethnic conflict and the dealing with the problems of accountability for war time violations of people’s rights.  We recognise that these are sensitive issues.  However, the resolution of these problems must be done in consultation with the people and not by ignoring or bypassing them.  The solutions should not be sprung on the people after the elections.  Technical solutions of power sharing and truth and reconciliation commissions are as important as the practice of genuine democracy and good governance at all levels which gives legitimacy to the decisions of the government.

Governing Council/ National Peace Council


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