Election was rigged ... "but now that the people have elected the President"
By Jatila Karawita
Mar 7, 2010
Opposition leader of the Western Provincial Council (WPC) Ms. Rosy Senanayake allayed fears people may have of a UNP-led government working smoothly with a SLFP-led president. But, the president would need to seriously reconsider the people he has surrounded himself with -- if he is to work closely with a future UNP government in the event of the main opposition party scoring an improbable win at the forthcoming general election on April 8 this year, she affirmed. She insisted that this type of thing happened when incumbent Opposition leader Ranil Wickremasinghe functioned as the premier from 2001 to 2004 until that UNP administration was dissolved, with disastrous consequences to the country, by the then SLFP-led President Chandrika Kumaratunga. Ms. Senanayake who is also the UNP Chief Organiser for the Colombo West electorate and who is set to contest the upcoming parliamentary poll from the Colombo district in an interview with LAKBIMAnEWS noted that the people are currently forced to put up with numerous hardships -- not least of them being the severe economic stresses and the intimidating and corrupt governance of the UPFA. The former Sri Lankan High Commissioner to Malaysia Ms. Senanayake maintained that contesting from the Colombo district on the UNP ticket was no big deal for her as the UPFA government has failed to field any credible candidates: Excerpts:

Q: Your thoughts on the election and your prospects?

A:Well, I have been involved in party politics with the UNP for the past few decades and by and by I became the UNP chief organizer for Colombo West and then became the opposition leader of the western provincial council.

And it was the call of the party considering my capability, that I should run in this general election, so I decided to take this chance and contest. That is because the country is begging for a believable change from top to bottom devoid of the on-going political victimization, intimidation and harassment of opposition activists and innocent civilians who express dissent. Also, thinking of a UNP-led government that could invariably usher in a believable change, I think that as a woman politician who has a considerable following among both sexes, that I could make my own contribution in re-establishing good governance, democracy and accountability. These are only a few reasons I decided to contest and be a Member of Parliament (MP) from the UNP.

Q: Looking at the current political climate the trend seems to be towards the UPFA. What chances would the UNP have at the general election?

A:I firmly believe that the general trend is not in favour of the government.

I am also not entirely pleased with the outcome of the presidential election especially regarding the contradictory statements made by the elections commissioner in the wake of announcing the final poll result.

These contradictory statements made by no less a person than the commissioner himself leaves a big question mark as to the veracity of the January 26 poll, because it was rife with malpractices, election irregularities, violation of election laws etc. And to put it in a nutshell it is not a result which neither I nor the general public could comprehend.

However, despite this perceived gloom and doom scenario, I am yet looking positively towards the general election.

Q: Though you say the public cannot comprehend or are baffled by this presidential election result the president still prevailed over his biggest and nearest challenger by a margin of over 1.8 million votes in the final stakes. How so indeed?

A:This margin of 1.8 million is what nobody could comprehend. The plain fact of the matter is that the elections commissioner made contradictory statements with regard to how certain ballot boxes were transferred and the immense pressure he was subjected to. Note his facial expressions when announcing the final result.

He was pressurized by various quarters for sure and he was a man under duress; at least that much was evident to us. And then his statement with regard to how the state media heads functioned in the lead up to the election --- when he was subsequently questioned about that he backtracked and denied ever making any contradictory statements with regard to the outcome of this election.

So that alone gives sufficient evidence for us to question the credibility of the presidential poll result which he himself oversaw as the commissioner.

Q: But, going by what you say is there a real hue and cry from the masses with regard to the outcome of the presidential poll --- in other words they seems to be accepting it?

A:There is a hue and cry all right and that is what prompted the opposition to file an election petition in the Supreme Court challenging its outcome. Every reason as to why the people cannot accept this result is in that petition --- and as it is now in the judiciary weíll have to wait for the verdict of the Supreme Court and letís leave it at that.

Q: With regard to the general election how confident is the UNP of grappling with the government machinery which they used effectively to win the presidential poll?

A:We are hoping against hope. My view is that the public has lost their confidence in the elections commissionerís ability to conduct a smooth, free and fair poll given the contradictory statements he made with regard to the presidential election. And now it is up to the judiciary, to uphold democracy and safeguard the franchise of the people by bringing about a sea of change in all future conduct of elections in this country, because the people do not trust the incumbent elections commissioner anymore --- who by all accounts could be and has been dictated to by the government.

People are very vigilant this time around and they have come forward to ensure that their vote is not robbed and that fact will be well and truly reflected in the final election result. Yes, I believe this will be the case at the parliamentary poll.

Q: What are the projects that you have in your mind for the Colombo district in particular?

A:Employment is one big problem which needs a drastic overhaul, education sector and the economy are in great peril as well. Sustainable development, sustainability of the environment and so many socio economic issues need to be looked into ---- not least is the march towards a global village which is what UNP leader Ranil Wickremasinghe tried his best to usher in during his second stint as prime minister, but couldnít, due to a decision taken to dissolve parliament by Chandrika Kumaratunga in 2004.

Also sectors such as IT, apparel, tourism, fisheries etc need a radical overhaul as none of the SLFP-led governments have been able to provide relief in any of these sectors and my priority would be to address these issues under a UNP government.

Q: How confident are you of competing alongside established political figures fielded by the UPFA in Colombo?

A: I am pretty optimistic and confident of my chances. My confidence and optimism stems from the fact that the UPFA does not have any credible contestants on their ticket.

Also the fact that they continue to woo film and sports stars who are not genuinely concerned with regard to the plight of the people, has further increased my chances of not only being elected, but also becoming a true representative of not only the people of Colombo but also of the country as a true daughter of her soil.

Also I must say that the UNP has a very formidable and credible list with regard to the Colombo district in comparison with the UPFA, and I have every confidence that the people will send as many representatives as possible from the UNP to parliament.

Q: What would be your final message to the people ahead of the general election and could you allay fears people may have of a UNP-led government being able to co-exist with a SLFP-led president in the event of a UNP triumph on April 9?

A: What I would say to the people is not to be cowed down by political victimization which is being carried by the UPFA, and to stand up for their rights in the face of this intimidation and harassment. Do not allow your franchise to be robbed at any cost.

That is one of the reasons the UNP-led opposition challenged the presidential election result in the Supreme Court through a petition and as for a UNP government working with a SLFP president; I think it could happen as long as the latter is genuine and sincere putting the country first at every instance. I would also urge the people now that they have re-elected the president that they should come forward to install a UNP government to effect believable change under the leadership of Ranil Wickremasinghe and backed by retired General Sarath Fonseka. And though, I do not have any qualms with regard to the presidentís sincerity and concern about issues, I am afraid I cannot say the same with regard to the people he has surrounded himself with ----- and that is an issue which he will need to address. But, I could say people should not have any doubts about a UNP government not being able to run the show in the long-term even with a SLFP-led president at the helm.

Courtesy: Lakbima