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Conspiracy, censure, clampdown in Lanka

world Updated: Feb 04, 2010 00:56 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Hindustan Times
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It’s been a week since incumbent President Mahinda Rajapaksa won a resounding victory over former army chief Sarath Fonseka but a sense of foreboding and controversy continues to surround the aftermath.

It has less to do with Fonseka’s allegation that tampered ballot boxes gave Rajapaksa the mandate, not the people. Independent monitors pronounced the election as largely free and fair.

Mostly it has to do with the perception that opposition supporters in the military, bureaucracy or even private sector are being be hounded for — doing something which the ruling class seem to be identifying as — desecrating the government and supporting the opposition.

Serious allegations have been exchanged. Had they come true, Colombo would have witnessed two military coups, the assassination of top presidential candidates and general mayhem since last Tuesday.

Rajapaksa alleged Fonseka had planned to assassinate him. Fonseka returned the complement, alleging that post-election he was to be arrested and killed by the government. Nothing of that sort happened.

But a clampdown on those perceived to have favoured Fonseka seems to be on. On Monday, Rajapaksa sacked dozen military officers who apparently were a “direct threat to national security’’. An undisclosed number were sent on compulsory retirement. At least 36 former servicemen and two monks are being held.

Rights monitor Amnesty International urged Sri Lanka on Tuesday to end what it described as a post-presidential election “clampdown” on the media, political opponents and human rights activists.

Luckily, there’s not been any violence in Colombo.

The capital quietly returned to normalcy; no more stocking up food and army personnel knocking at your door for “your own protection.”