If Presidents Had Three Terms, CBK Would be Ruling Still, Or Worse
Posted on September 7th, 2010

Dilrook Kannangara

Will Sri Lanka get a different set of leaders starting from 2010? No. Will nationalist leaders with foresight and intelligence always become president? No. In fact, these are oddities in Sri Lankan politics. Increasing the President’s terms to three terms is such a shortsighted thing to do. What if this provision was there all along? Then Chandrika Kumaratunga would still be the president after she had contested the 2005 election and won. She would be president, still as the term ends in 2011. Or worse, Ranil would be the President by now. Either way Sri Lanka would be in a dire situation.

Similarly, JR Jayawardena who was around until 1996 would have run for the 1988 Presidential Election and won. He had a unique way of winning elections using all available resources. That would have prolonged the IPKF and JVP problems.  

What will it do to the violent election campaigns and elections? It will increase the level of violence as much more will be at stake with three terms. Incumbents and challengers will go the extra mile in violence to push their way into power. Their supporters will do anything imaginable to get their “ƒ”¹…”boss’ elected. It can be expected that election violence will go up rapidly following the 18th Amendment and the gap between winners and losers will expand. Is this what we need?

Nationalists found it very difficult to win presidential elections in Sri Lanka. Out of six (6) presidential elections, nationalist candidates managed to win just two (2). Out of that, the nationalist candidate won the 2005 election with a razor thin margin. Had the LTTE antics not interfered with the election, the outcome would have been different. The 2010 election, which is the other exception, happened because of 2005. No win in 2005 would mean no win in 2010 for Rajapakse.

In 1982 the more nationalist candidate “”…” Kobbekaduwa lost badly. Sirima “”…” the more nationalist of the three lost in 1988. Gamini who was a clear nationalist against Chandrika who had absolutely no national concerns, not only lost but was killed in 1994 in the lead up to the election! The 1999 election therefore was a contest between two anti-national elements.

It was indeed a small opening for Sri Lanka in 2005 that saved the country. The 18th Amendment will close that too.

Fourth reason is the secrecy associated with the whole 18th Amendment. Why should it have to be like the 13th Amendment? Why weren’t the people consulted? Why can’t the government wait till there is wide ranging societal consensus for it? Surely it is not something people would approve. Otherwise, there is absolutely no need for this cloak-and-dagger approach.

Fifth reason is the associations the president hastily made intending the 18th Amendment. These associations include persons like Prabha Ganesan “”…” the brother of Mano Ganesan who is a well known anti-Sri Lankan element. Rauf Hakeem and his friends who toiled for the LTTE in 2002 are also in his new circle of supporters. Will they ever support anything good for the country? How about the opportunists who are now gathering around this alliance?   

Those who support the 18th Amendment should consider these facts before going with the herd. It is not about Mahinda Rajapakse; his policies or his tendencies. It is about the stupidity of the 18th Amendment. Rajapakse will be gone in another few decades at most but people have to continue with this absurd piece of law.

If this is the regard President Rajapakse has for the people and their concerns, would he not disregard their interests during the second and third legs of the constitution amendments? According to the little information made available, the first stage of constitution amendments is the one taking place on September 8th and two more stages are due. What if those amendments are about 13 Plus which has lingered around like a bad smell right throughout his presidency? The 18th Amendment favours the greediest president, not the best. This enormous power in the hands of another Jayawardena, Premadasa, Kumaratunga, Fonseka, Wickramasinghe or most other politicians would be disastrous. 

5 Responses to “If Presidents Had Three Terms, CBK Would be Ruling Still, Or Worse”

  1. Fran Diaz Says:

    A Third Term does NOT grant an automatic WIN for any Presidential candidate. There will be an election after the end of each term, the People will vote, and a President elected. The person running for a Third Term will be elected by the People only if that person has performed well as President. This seems quite in order to me. Please correct me if I am wrong.

  2. Nanda Says:

    Fran,
    Yes I can correct you easily.
    What Dilrook saying is this.
    Everything good as long as a good man in power.
    What happens when some idiot comes to power ? What happen if India buys out Sajith (for example or anyone else) and he follows his father’s foot steps.
    People will have to live with fear forever. Polls will be rigged or manipulated. That will be the end of Sri Lanka.

  3. Wickrama Says:

    Nanda, on the other hand, if people elect an idiot as the president, people themselves are to be blamed, NOT the constitution! That can happen under any system, and whether 2 terms or more. Manupulations and rigging of polls also will happen under any system. However history has shown that such malpractices do not have any MAJOR effect.

  4. Nanda Says:

    Wichrama,
    Do not say so. Premadasa was killed. I remember the differnce immediately after Dingiri Banda beccame the president by default. The country felt the frredom instantly.
    In a democracy people make mistakes. They appoint idiots. They don’t do it repeatedly but the Idiots become Idi Amins.

  5. Fran Diaz Says:

    People elect the wrong leaders all the time in democracies all over the world. Sometimes the available leaders who come forward are simply not good enough, or not obviously good enough. Sometimes mediocre leaders excel, and sometimes the wrong man is pushed to the top by negative forces.
    We should grow our own leaders, people with aptitude for the job quite naturally as far as the MASSES are concerned, well educated about the affairs of the world and kind hearted enough to care about other human beings, whilst maintaining the essence of our culture. The present President is such a person, and Lankans should consider themselves lucky. Not all will agree with me, but the fact that President Rajapakse won handsomely in a democratic election proves that he is the best at present. The best we can do is to be watchful and elect our leaders with wisdom and trust our gut feelings about them.

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