Post Civil War: Sri Lankans Vote For President
STEVE INSKEEP, Host:
It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.
ARI SHAPIRO, Host:
Good morning, Philip.
PHILIP REEVES: Good morning.
SHAPIRO: So is running in this election and what's the significance of the vote?
REEVES: As president, Rajapaksa ordered the army's successful offensive on the Tigers last May. As army chief, Fonseka carried it out.
SHAPIRO: Is there any indication of which of the two men is most likely to win?
REEVES: Sri Lankan's complain about rising prices and government corruption and also nepotism. Three of the president's brothers are highly placed in the government. General Fonseka's decision to run also changed the picture. He's expected to split the Sinhalese nationalist vote, which is interesting because it means, as you said earlier, rather ironically, that the vote by the Tamil minority now becomes very significant.
SHAPIRO: It's surprising to me that the Tamils are willing to vote at all for either of these men who were instrumental in suppressing the Tamils.
REEVES: On the other hand, they do have many grievances they want the government to address, such as rebuilding their shattered communities, rehabilitating the multitude of Tamils displaced by the war, some of whom who are still in camps, access to land, and the general need in Sri Lanka for some kind of reconciliation after so many years of conflict.
SHAPIRO: Well, this is the first peacetime vote Sri Lanka has had in nearly three decades. Give us a sense of what the scene is like Colombo. Has there been any violence? What do you see on the street?
REEVES: But security's extremely tight. There are 68,000 police out on the streets today, plus 25 army platoons. And all bars across Sri Lanka are closed for two days in a further effort to make sure that there's no unrest.
SHAPIRO: Thanks, Philip, and stay safe.
REEVES: Thank you.
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