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What’s in a box

What’s in a box

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Published by Thavam

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Published by: Thavam on Sep 22, 2013
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09/09/2014

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September 20, 2013, 9:12 pm
 
Today, we front-page a photograph of Elections Commissioner MahindaDeshapriya holding one of the new ballot boxes introduced as part of apilot project. This is a very good move in that people could see what’s inthose boxes.However, plastic boxes alone won’t help solve the various problemsassociated with elections. The incumbent Polls Chief is doing everything inhis power to eliminate malpractices and restore public confidence in theelectoral process. His efforts are to be highly commended. But, much moreremains to be done. All that a toothless guard dog could do is to bark. TheElections Department is in a similar predicament. There should be a robustnational institution with constitutionally guaranteed powers to ensure freeand fair elections.Only an outfit like the Independent Election Commission envisaged in thenow defunct 17th Amendment, will be equal to that task. At present, theElections Commissioner cannot even take penal action against thecandidates who win by abusing state resources, which is a blatant violationof election laws.As for today’s polls, the winners are not difficult to guess. Losers will bethe electors. All eyes are on the election to the first ever NorthernProvincial Council (NPC). No less a person than UN Secretary General BanKi-moon has issued a statement welcoming polls, especially in the North.This may be the first time a UNSG has welcomed provincial elections in aUN member state!The uphill task before those who secure the control of the NPC today willbe to prevent it from going the same way as other provincial councilswhich have become white elephants to all intents and purposes becausethey have been reduced to mere appendages of political parties. Helpingrebuild the northerners’ lives devastated by three decades of war shouldbe the newly elected PC’s raison d’etre.
 
It is hoped that polls will end in the Northwestern Province without bloodyclashes among supporters of the UPFA candidates jousting for the chief minister’s post.
Destroying weapons
Russian President Vladimir Putin has told the international media he iscautiously optimistic that Syria will honour its undertaking to destroy itschemical weapons. US President Barack Obama has agreed to that courseof action for want of a better alternative.The sooner Syrian President Bashar al-Assad complies with Russia’srequest, the better it is for him as well as the hapless Syrians. But, thequestion is why the US, Russia and other world powers breathing down hisneck do not practise what they preach by decommissioning their nukes.The question is who helped Syria build stockpiles of chemical weapons.Saddam Hussein could not tell the world who had assisted him inproducing biological and chemical weapons as revealing such informationwould have been tantamount to hara-kiri for him at a time he was beingtried for crimes against civilians. Gaddafi would have gladly exposed thosewho had betrayed him after helping him procure weapons and perhapsthat was one of the reasons why he was silenced in captivity.President Assad needs to be pressured to mend his ways, but it will be agrave mistake for the western powers to use the Syrian rebels for thatpurpose. For, they are no better than Assad and his military. Western journalists have become targets of the rebels who consider them Americanspies. Paradoxically, these groups are dependent on the US and its allies tosustain their offensives against Assad! All signs are that they with al-Qaeda cadres within their ranks would turn Syria into a dangerous placefor the westerners if they succeed in overthrowing the Assad regime.In Libya, it was after ousting Gaddafi that rebels started killing oneanother. But, jihadists with al-Qaeda links better known as ISIS (IslamicState in Iraq and Syria) have already resorted to internecine violence; theyrecently drove their fellow rebels belonging to the Free Syrian Army from aborder town through sheer violence. This is just the tip of the iceberg andthe situation is expected to take a turn for the worse with the passage of 

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