Democracy Restored: Samantha Power salutes Mangala, Sri Lanka’s defeat of autocracy

February 28, 2018 (LBO) – Samantha Power, United States Ambassador to the United Nations under President Barak Obama, arrived in Sri Lanka to be the keynote speaker at an event felicitating Sri Lanka’s Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera completing 30 years in politics.

The event held at the BMICH was attended broadly by the Cabinet, Diplomatic Corps, and other influential sections of the Sri Lankan polity. The most important local guests were the President, Prime Minister, Speaker and Former Presidents of Sri Lanka.

Unlike in 2015, when Power was a member of Obama’s Cabinet, this time as a private citizen she was more able to speak her mind outside of U.S. government policy. In her remarks she was sharply critical of President Trump, the social media giant Facebook, and authoritarianism throughout the globe.

Ambassador Power saluted many aspects of the political career of Samaraweera, and highlited his steadfast support of democracy. She said that all over the world, democracy seems to be under attack, highlighting in particular the episode of Sri Lanka’s 50 day constitutional crisis.

With one of the key architects of Sri Lanka’s constitutional crisis, former President cum Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa sitting front and centre during her remarks (President Maithripala Sirisena made a quick exit before her speech began), Ambassador Power went on to salute those institutions that protected and restored Sri Lanka’s democracy from a state of peril.

Power recognised the key contributions made by civil society, the judiciary, journalists, and brave political leaders in overcoming a severe challenge to Sri Lanka’s democracy. She said that although Sri Lanka’s institutions were under severe stress, they were not breaking.

Samantha Power (48) may surface again in global politics as a potential Secretary of State in a Democratic U.S. Presidential administration. With regard to her relationship with Mangala Samaraweera, she hailed him as one of the most memorable people she met in her 8 years of the Obama Administration. Closing her remarks she stated that with regard to the political career of Samaraweera (62): “We all know the best is yet to come.”