International Reaction to election of Sri Lanka’s President show crass hypocrisy of West

In 2015 regime change took place and common candidate Maithripala Sirisena was elected as President. Democracy and elections were ‘virtues’ handed to former colonies by former colonial invaders. Diplomacy is part and parcel of international relations and enshrined in code of conduct via Vienna Convention/Protocols. When a candidate is voted victor in an election it is only polite that a congratulatory message is issued even to the most personally hated candidate. Isn’t that gentlemen’s behavior and part and parcel of the white man’s ‘civilizing’ burden? No Western leader can boast of getting a mandate from their voters as the one given to President Gotabaya and it is very disappointing that Western world leaders have chosen to be shallow in their diplomacy by not sending a customary congratulatory message. 

This is how the world bodies and foreign governments reacted to Maithripala Sirisena becoming 6th President of Sri Lanka 

United Nations

UN General Secretary Ban Ki Moon congratulated the Sri Lankan people 

“on the successful conclusion of the presidential election”, 

UNSG praised the election commission for its “professionalism”

European Union

EU Foreign Affairs High Representative Federica Mogherini issuing statement on 9th January itself declared “EU looks forward to working with him to further develop its relations with Sri Lanka”


Foreign Minister Julie Bishop on 10th January 2015 congratulated Sri Lankans on a peaceful and orderly election.

PM Tony Abbott telephoned President Sirisena


Prime Minister Erna Solberg on 9 January 2015 congratulated the Sri Lankan people and President Sirisena, saying she looked forward to working with the new government to “promote a peaceful, inclusive and democratic Sri Lanka”


PM David Cameron on 9 January 2015 congratulated President Sirisena and encouraging him to co-operate with UN investigation into alleged war crimes “so that the issues of the past can be addressed and the country can move forward to a brighter, peaceful future where all Sri Lankans can play a role”

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond issued a statement commending the Sri Lanka people “on the successful completion of their elections”  


President Barack Obama on 9 January 2015 congratulated “the people of Sri Lanka on the successful and peaceful conclusion” to the election and Sirisena on his victory, saying that it was “a symbol of hope for those who support democracy all around the world”

Secretary of State John Kerry issued a statement praising Sri Lanka people “on the successful conclusion of their elections”, commending Rajapaksa for accepting the resulting and saying that he looked “forward to working with President-elect Maithripala Sirisena”

Now see the above reactions against the reactions to Gotabaya Rajapakse’s election victory!

Gotabaya Rajapakse was announced President on 17th November 2019. But the reactions of international bodies & governments even for diplomacy sake has been dismal.

Its 1st of December 2019 and so far 

UN Secretary General has NOT issued a congratulatory message 

EU issued a statement 

We congratulate President Rajapaksa and look forward to working with him to uphold Sri Lanka’s commitments to implement international conventions on fundamental rights and to continue efforts aimed at improving governance, human rights and reconciliation”.

USA Embassy has issued a statement 

“We commend the Elections Commission, civil society and government authorities for promoting a peaceful election. We are ready to continue our work with the new President and with all the people of Sri Lanka in supporting the country’s sovereignty through heightened good governance, expanded economic growth, the advancement of human rights and reconciliation, and in fostering an Indo-Pacific region where all countries can prosper.”

No Congratulatory message from US President Trump

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo congratulated President Rajapakse only on a tweet on 19 November 2019

U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka and the Maldives Alaina B. Teplitz said, 

we look forward to working with President-elect Rajapaksa on issues of good governance, economic growth, the advancement of human rights and reconciliation in support of a strong, sovereign Sri Lanka.”

No Congratulatory message from UK Prime Minister

British High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, Sarah Hulton OBE, congratulated Gotabaya on his election and “the people of Sri Lanka on a more peaceful election period than ever.” and officially visited him on 26th November 2019.

Lord Ahmad, Minister for the Commonwealth, UN and South Asia, congratulated Gotabaya on Twitter said he looks “forward to the UK and Sri Lanka working together constructively as Commonwealth partners.”

No Congratulatory message from Australian Prime Minister or Foreign Minister

Australia welcomes the high voter turnout and historically peaceful day of polling for #SriLanka’s Presidential Election. We look forward to building on the strong Australia-Sri Lanka relationship,” tweeted Australian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka David Holly.

The first countries to congratulate President Rajapakse was India, China, Iran, Pakistan, Maldives, Singapore, Bangladesh, Nepal, Afghanistan

Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulating President Rajapaksa said, 

it definitely meets the fundamental interests of our people and is in line with strengthening the regional stability and security.”

Lord Naseby PC, President of the All Party British Sri Lanka Parliamentary Group, has extended his congratulations to the newly-elected President (20 Nov)

Issuing twitter messages is not diplomacy and following diplomatic protocols. These are only social media platforms and not official mode of diplomacy. 

Courtesy, Respect and Professionalism are most important components of a diplomatic protocol” – Tomasz Orłowski

Shenali D Waduge

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