Around a month before the presidential elections, former Minister and Civil Servant Dr Sarath Amunugama, told reporters in Colombo that it was the candidate “with the majority of the majority who could secure the minorities.”
Amunugama, who is by training an Anthropologist was one of Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s spokesmen and he was responding to a question about the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna’s relationship with the minorities in the country from a reporter.
On Saturday Nov 16, the minority regions of the country voted heavily in favour of Rajapaksa’s opponent Sajith Premadasa despite the SLPP’s numerous efforts to woo religious and ethnic minorities.
This left a stark difference in the returns of the elections. The North and the East dominated by Tamils and Muslims voted 80 to 20 in favour of Premadasa and the Southern, Uva and North Central Provinces dominated by Sinhala voters heavily for Rajapaksa.
A member of Premadasa’s Party, Economic Reforms Minister Harsha de Silva said “I feel so sad for this country. There is such division in this country.Never have we had so many in the north, so little in the South,” he told our sister website economynext.com
But Nivard Cabraal, Central Bank governor in the last Rajapaksa administration says and part of the party’s policy team will look at the numbers and provide solutions. “We are at the moment examining the voting patterns of different districts we would take into consideration the messages that emanate from those patterns as well,” he said.
As President, this will be one of the main challenges for Rajapaksa. He acknowledged it by saying; “as we usher in a new journey for Sri Lanka, we must remember that all Sri Lankans are part of this journey” in a tweet after he accepted the win. Later in another speech he said he is “aware that I am now the President for all Sri Lankans and I will ensure that all Sri Lankans, not only those who voted for me but those who voted against me as well, and I will work for all.”
But the map of the electoral results is a reminder as to how divided we are. No doubt the minorities were reacting to the actions of the SLPP, because the party has acted in a racially biased manner on numerous occasions.
The party has admitted through President’s Counsel Mohamed Ali Sabri that its activists were responsible for the allegations against a House Officer in the Kurunegala Hospital Dr Shafi Siyabdeen whom they accused of rendering thousands of Sinhala Buddhist women sterile by damaging their fallopian tubes. A police investigation into the allegations
The Kurunegala Municipal Council which is controlled by the SLPP voted to shut down Beef shops in the city where hundreds of thousands of Muslims live. And another SLPP controlled council at Wennappuwa banned Muslim traders from the weekly fair.
Activists and Muslim leaders told RepublicNext during the Presidential campaign that would be no anti-Muslim violence during the Presidential elections. Women’s activist Sumika Perera told RepublicNext “that is because they know they cannot win the Presidency without the Muslim votes.” Former Army Commander General Mahesh Senanayake who contested the Presidency warned that Muslims would be targeted after the poll.
During the campaign SLPP activist Prof Channa Jayasumana of the Raja Rata University complained in a speech delivered at a public event that if he discusses the Shafi case he gets calls telling him to “stop talking about this subject.” He complained that the Nationalist Movement had no freedom during elections.
President-elect Rajapaksa has vowed to change this and no doubt the world is watching.