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"Election shows that Sri Lanka stands for democracy"
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"Election shows that Sri Lanka stands for democracy"

Indooshan

Sri Lanka changed presidents in an election that Indooshan Shanthakumaran, 25, a Commonwealth Correspondent from Colombo in Sri Lanka, argues will confirm the country’s democratic reputation.

The last presidential election of Sri Lanka is a classic example of how my country stood up for justice and democracy. The “democratic” identity of the Sri Lanka’s name has been proved by us.

When the election was called last November, no one including the defeated ruling party could have ever thought about a major revolution that happened without a single drop of blood. At the time the election was called, the then-leader of the island was enjoying immense popularity and the ruling party had a two-thirds majority in the parliament. Simply put, the government was unstoppable.

The major challenger was backed by almost all the opposition parties in the country, which was a rare occasion as the parties used to share many contradictions in policies of economy and governance.

When the stage was set the main challenger and the winner of the election, our current president HE Maithripala Sirisena, was calling for a constitutional change and to eradicate the executive presidency, as it had almost all the powers with it. The parliament seemed to be just a ceremonial place that danced to the president’s beat.

Therefore, it was an election between the current ruling system and a new reform.

As the days of the election approached the election commissioner started working diligently in many ways. Firstly he asked the state media to apologize for the false news broadcast against prominent figures of the opponent party. Then, on the eve on the election he gave police the power to shoot if they happened to see anyone creating violence or disrupting the smooth voting.

This brave move was the secret to having the most violence-free election in the history of modern Sri Lankan. Moreover, he was continually canvassing for more people to vote. At the same time he ensured an election without any fraudulent activities such as changing the ballot boxes or counting mishaps.

Two main NGOs, CAFÉ and PAFREL came to join hands with the elections department, and continuously called for a free election with the most number of voters showing up. The canvassing was successful since many youth – including me – posted our fingers with the election ink-mark on social media and called others to do their duty and civic responsibility.

It was a great success, with the voter turnout averaging 82.15 per cent all over Sri Lanka, and the absence of any significant pre- or post-election violence. Once the counting was over and results were announced the ruling president left without any issue to ensure a smooth transition.

From the election commissioner to the voters, from the past president to the current president, we all have played our roles honestly and conscientiously. We are going not only for a political change, but also we are now moving to a new era of Sri Lanka’s history. With whole lot of pride, joy and hope we are now calling ourselves one of the oldest, experienced and absolute democratic countries of the world.

Yes we did it by ourselves, for ourselves.

photo credit: Vikalpa | Groundviews | Maatram | CPA via photopin cc
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About me: I am a friendly and fun loving person, highly interested in travelling around getting know different people and making lovely memories. I intend to pursue higher studies in development economics and help small and medium entrepreneurs achieve their development and their country’s development goals.

I am interested in writing about common issues that lie within the Commonwealth countries and to find some reasonable and practical solutions universally.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?

To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/commonwealthcorrespondents/

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