The high drama staged by retired General Sarath Fonseka, main opponent of the incumbent President who was declared elected for a second time with a huge margin and the defeated candidate in the Sri Lanka Presidential election, ended on a tame note late on Wednesday night after the former chose to return to his residence from a local hotel where he had taken shelter.
Hours after the counting commenced, Gen. (retd) Fonseka had checked into a local hotel in the early hours of Wednesday citing security concerns. Taking advantage of the presence of a large contingent of the international media here, he accused Mr. Rajapaksa of 'stealing the election' and 'plotting to eliminate him'.
Ironically, the questioning of the legitimacy of the outcome of the presidential election was not shared with equal enthusiasm by the opposition parties that backed him to the hilt in the course of the six week long intense campaign. Besides, the 'discovery' that the retired General had not deemed it necessary to enrol himself as a voter and its adverse impact among the people seems to have clearly embarrassed his supporters from the opposition ranks.
The issue is particularly delicate for every one as the island nation is to witness a general election in the month of April. Two reasons seem to have compelled Gen. (retd) Fonseka to end the hotel show. Sections of the opposition leaders are believed to have counselled him to act with restraint as any further rash moves by him would adversely impact their prospects in the forthcoming parliamentary election.
Besides, Mr. Rajapaksa sought to defuse the situation by his comment, in response to questions about his first informal interaction with the media that the retired General is free to contact him to discuss any issues related to security. "What is his problem? He can always get in touch me. After all he was my former Army Chief," he quipped, when asked about the issue of threat to his life raised by the commander turned politician.
There were hints from the retired General duiring his interaction with the media that he might consider temporarily shifting out of the island nation 'if' the government did not answer his concerns on his safety and security satisfactorily.
Forty-eight hours after the landslide victory registered by the sitting President, there were other signs of return to normalcy and reconciliation to the ground realities. Campaign for Free and Fair Elections (CaFFE), Sri Lanka based NGO that monitored the presidential poll process, in a press statement appealed to all parties concerned to accept the people’s verdict and create a situation for return to calm.
"We request all the candidates who contested in the presidential election to accept and honour the verdict of the election. We are disturbed by the post-election violence taken in some parts of the country. We request all to maintain the law and order in the country. All have to respect the tradition that people have to elect their President through election and should strengthen the democratic process."
In a statement issued in the New York the office of the Secretary-General Ban quoted him as saying that Sri Lanka’s presidential elections have concluded relatively free of violence and he reiterated his call to the country’s political parties to abide by the official results and to pursue any concerns peacefully.
"I realise that the election has been quite a hard-fought one," Mr. Ban said, in response to questions from journalists at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.
"I had been concerned at the level of violence during the campaign. I am relieved that the vote yesterday appears to have [been] relatively peaceful, despite some violent incidents."
Noting that the Sri Lankan electoral authorities had declared the results, the Secretary-General appealed to political parties to abide by the decision and rules and regulations, including addressing any electoral grievances. "I truly hope that all sides will see the wisdom of acting with restraint and responsibility in the interest of the nation. This would bode well for future elections and national harmony."