‘March 12 Movement’ campaign to elect ‘Dream President’ | Sunday Observer

‘March 12 Movement’ campaign to elect ‘Dream President’

PAFFREL Executive Director Rohana Hettiarachchi addresses the gathering at the Independence Square last week. Pix: Vipula Amarasinghe
PAFFREL Executive Director Rohana Hettiarachchi addresses the gathering at the Independence Square last week. Pix: Vipula Amarasinghe

Marking the fourth anniversary the ‘March 12 Movement’ (M12M) launched a campaign last week to seek the views of people on their ‘Dream President’ as the country will go to polls to elect its next first citizen towards the end of the year.

The next Presidential election is expected in October and the new President will be inaugurated on Janaury 8 according to the polls calendar.

The M12M, a collective of election watchdogs and the civil society, led by People’s Action for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL) and Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) aims at creating a progressive political culture in the county. The campaign titled, ‘Our Dream President’ was launched at an event held at the Independent Square early last week attended by civil society and representatives from across all sectors of the society and the working class - youth, artists, farmers, fishermen, academia.

“Within the next few months elections will be held to elect the first citizen of the country. Our effort here is to create a public discourse and convey a strong message to the political parties as to what the expectations of the people are and the qualities they seek in a presidential candidate,” PAFFREL Executive Director Rohana Hettiarachchi said.

He said the M12M founders are not satisfied as their objectives were not 100 percent fulfilled during the past four years. “It is not easy within a few years to change a corrupt political culture which has been existing for decades,” he said adding that however, they will consistently push for the much needed reforms in this sector.

The March 12 movement had succeeded in getting political parties to accede to a set of guidelines to select candidates.

“But the next step which is the hardest will be to ensure that the guidelines are followed,” Hettiarachchi said. CMEV National Coordinator Manjula Gajanayake said the campaign is not intended to promote or condemn any particular candidate or political party.

Speaking on behalf of artists Nissanka Diddeniya said the next president should be a person who is honest to himself.

It is only then that he or she could be honest to his voters. Former Speaker of the Youth Parliament, Sachinda Dulanjana said the next president must be aware of the grievances of all people and must not favour a privileged group.

He said the President must consider everyone as his relatives which will help eradicate nepotism.

Surangi Wasana who arrived from Matara to represent the fisher-folks at the event said the dream president should be sensitive to the issues of fishermen and must work with a vision to develop the fisheries industry.