Far be it from me to engage in armchair politics but interesting games are being played on the island and, as distasteful a subject as it may be to me, I can't help but be fascinated watching as the plot unfolds.
So the General is now a potential 'common candidate' and the Opposition has thrown its lot in with him. The President is yet to announce his decision on the presidential election, which he will most likely do today at the SLFP convention. If he postpones it to two years from now and has the General Election first, well then it'll be interesting to see for how long the General can prolong his hype. Will it give him campaign time to build up mass support or will the people forget about the war under the burden of rising prices and unemployment?
It is interesting to me, among other things, how the Opposition will blindly support a man who yet has no election manifesto and was until recently a crucial player on the Government's team. A man of war no less, who has no political experience, though I will readily admit that that is not a requirement to enter politics in Sri Lanka. What power does to man is an interesting study. How far will you go and to what depths will you sink to gain and keep this elusive, desirable power?
So maybe what the country needs is a straight arrow from the army? A man of rigid discipline and strict anti-corruption regulations. A man who clearly loves power and is not burdened by a none too substantial ego. Surely, after 4 years of Rajapakse rule, where your connections are your most important qualifications, bribery and corruption is rampant, the freedom of the press is a thing of the past and you can't move without stepping on the shattered remains of Sri Lanka's foreign relations, well maybe after all that, we need a new someone?
For my part, I find the General to be a scary man. I don't like war but I'm not a pacifist. I'm as happy as the next person that the war is over, as long the next person isn't one of our Sinhala-Buddhist zealots. I will readily admit that I'm fairly naive when it comes to politics and war and the ways of the world (why can't everyone just get along?) but I understand that it takes balls of steels to fight a battle and do the needful, no matter how distasteful the needful may be, so let me not be the one to withhold credit where credit is due.
I watched Sarath Fonseka speak about his war strategy and was impressed by his discipline and focus, his alleged cleaning up of corruption in the army et al. But I've also read his famous interview, the nationalist, racist, call it what you will overtones chillingly obvious.
"I strongly believe that this country belongs to the Sinhalese but there are minority communities and we treat them like our people. [...] They can live in this country with us. But they must not try to, under the pretext of being a minority, demand undue things." (Canadian National Post – 23 September 2008)
So when I read his resignation letter, which included gems like the following:
"There is no clear policy to win the hearts and minds of the Tamil people, which will surely ruin the victory, attained paving the way for yet another uprising in the future."
I'm sorry, but I find it hard to buy. A leopard doesn't change its spots, (though when faced with political glory anything is possible) and if these are the views held by one who could be potentially running for president, I see a bleak future, for minorities specifically, and for Sri Lanka as a whole. Maybe I'm wrong. I hope I'm wrong.
As I type this I'm reading all manner of articles in the Sunday papers. The President has accepted the General's resignation with immediate effect, but apparently the letter of resignation wasn't supposed to be submitted til after the SLFP convention, and now the General's peeps are getting transferred all over the place. In the meantime, Ranil is in India, trying to sell them on the General, and the Opposition is running helter skelter trying to convince everyone to back this 'common candidate' even though presidential elections have not yet been announced. Oh the power struggles. This is better than anything the Maha Gedare- Bold and the Beautiful lot could come up with.
As it stands, if the presidential elections go down next year, and if Sarath Fonseka runs for president, it'll come down to the people to choose between the lesser of two evils and for the life of me I can't figure out which is which.
God help us all.