High cost of living, corruption at high places and the end of a 26-year-old civil war will weigh on their minds as uneasy Sri Lankans queue up to vote in the presidential elections on Tuesday.
It’s the sixth presidential polls but the first one to be fought in a post-Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) era. There are 22 candidates but only two seemed to be fighting — President Mahinda Rajapaksa and former ally and army chief Sarath Fonseka.
Both claim credit for defeating the LTTE in May 2009.
Rajapaksa argues that without focused political leadership, the military would have faltered at the sight of victory.
He promises a stable government, post-war economic development and a united Sri Lanka with more representation to minorities, including the Tamil community.
“Show your gratitude to me, that’s what Rajapaksa is telling the voters,’’ a political analyst, who chose to remain anonymous, told HT.
A disaffected Fonseka resigned in November; his ego hurt after being promoted to the ceremonial post of chief of defence staff and after it was alleged that he was hatching a military coup.
The beleaguered opposition United National Party (UNP) — with several electoral defeats under its sagging belt — sensed an opportunity.
“One war hero to fight another war hero. With one stroke, the opposition had divided the Sinhala majority vote,’’ said an academic, who too wanted to remain anonymous.
The former general has promised to abolish the powerful executive presidency, clean-up corruption of the Rajapaksa brothers and wipe out nepotism.
A divided majority vote also means that Tamils, estimated at about 10 per cent of the 14-million electorate, could be reluctant kingmakers.
For the time, people are worried about violence on Tuesday and after the result is announced on January 27.