- Documents on Democracy
In the January 8 presidential election, opposition candidate Maithripala Sirisena scored a narrow but surprising victory over incumbent Mahinda Rajapaksa, who had been leading the country in an increasingly authoritarian direction. Sirisena, who resigned from Rajapaksa’s cabinet two months before the election, advocated a strengthening of the judiciary and the parliament relative to the executive branch. Excerpts from Sirisena’s campaign manifesto, “A Compassionate Maithri Governance: A Stable Country,” appear below:
Since 1994 up to date our country was ruled by alliance governments in which the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) was a principal part. We were able to solve many burning problems of the country during this period. I am quite pleased that I was also able to contribute to these achievements as the General Secretary of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party. The whole country is aware that these achievements include the elimination of terrorism, which was the most serious socio-political challenge that Sri Lanka faced during three decades in recent history.
Though five years have elapsed since that military victory, Sri Lanka has failed to successfully enter a path leading to the overcoming of other major social, political and economic crises that face it.
Actually what has happened is the unanticipated further aggravation of these crises. Our country cannot march forward without solving these new and more critical crises. A large number of deviations such as the total breakdown of the rule of law, fraud, corruption, wastage, inability to identify national priorities, environmental degradation, moral and spiritual degradation have emerged as obstacles to our country’s march forward. It is true that there was corruption and fraud always. However, the extent of corruption in Sri Lanka in the last few years is unprecedented and unheard of before. . . .
This robbery is taking place before everybody in broad daylight. Yet [End Page 181] the people were forced to be silent observers in the face of brute power. By now all hopes kindled in the year 2009 of making our country attractive have withered away. If this trend continues for another six years our country would become a colony and we would become slaves.
Today, when the law of the country is being manipulated by a few people, Sri Lanka’s image has been destroyed due to its incorrect and naïve foreign policy and strategies. Sri Lanka is rapidly getting isolated from the international community. Instead of becoming the Miracle of Asia, Sri Lanka is becoming the battlefield of world powers.
Our country is now entering a decisive juncture in its history. Whether the country would turn towards becoming a haven for peace, prosperity and reconciliation or whether it would fall into the abyss of degeneration, instability and anarchy depends on the way you act today. . . .
As the General Secretary of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party I decided to come forward as the People’s Common Candidate at this Presidential election in order to create a stable, prosperous Sri Lanka by solving during the next few years the great problems that face the country today.
On February 27, leading Russian opposition politician and former deputy prime minister Boris Nemtsov was shot in the back several times in central Moscow. His murder came just two days before he was to speak at a rally against Russian involvement in the war in Ukraine and the financial crisis in Russia. Newsweek Polska interviewed him hours before he was gunned down. A brief excerpt from the interview appears below:
Newsweek: But it was the Russian authorities that warned against fascism in Ukraine.
Nemtsov: Someone once said that the future fascists will be ardent anti-fascists. Fascism in Ukraine? Nonsense! Let’s look at Russia. We have one party built on the cult of a leader, plus some irrelevant satellite parties. Every few years there is a pathetic parody of an election. We have a chauvinistic and aggressive foreign policy, a reheating of imperial complexes, the militarization of society. These are the characteristics of a fascist regime, aren’t they? But Putin is not a fascist. He just cynically uses some elements of the past, mixes them with others—for example with Soviet traditions—and the hybrid...