Sri Lanka: United Socialist Party Manifesto for Presidential elections

A socialist programme for workers and the oppressesd

21st Century – Forward to Socialism!
Mass mobilisation needed to save the country from disaster

The United Socialist Party is contesting this presidential election with the help of some left groups and radical trade unions.

It is putting forward comrade Siritunga Jayasuriya, who is fighting on a socialist programme to defend the rights of all working class and oppressed people of this country.

At the same time, the capitalist alliance (behind Mahinda Rajapakse) is prepared to push the country into war in collaboration with the communal racist forces. On the other hand, the United National Party (with Ranil Wickeremesinghe as the candidate) has clearly promised the imperialists to carry out the neo-liberal programme of globalisation which will bring disaster to the people.

We are standing against both these camps. In this situation, the USP is putting forward a clear, democratic socialist programme with the only clear left candidate contesting this election.

Whether it is Ranil or Mahinda, whichever representative of the capitalist class wins this election, they are not going solve the fundamental problems of the working class, poor peasants, fishermen and victims of the Tsunami disaster. Nor will the oppressed Tamil and Muslim people of this country find a solution to their main problems. Both of them will continue with the same crude, deceitful capitalist system. In these circumstances, for poor people who live in this country to expect a better deal – freedom and a satisfactory life – they should seriously consider the situation and make a decisive choice at this moment.

From bad to worse with capitalist politicians

Globally, while millions of people are dying of starvation and curable diseases, every day huge profits are being extracted by a few big capitalist monopolies. While the UNP and the Alliance leaders shed crocodile tears, the gap between the rich and poor in this country is increasing day by day. The UNP’s Ranil and the Alliance’s Mahinda are both guilty with respect to this world-scale crime.

In 2004, the SLFP/JVP alliance government came to power promising prosperity and to take the country forward. But, instead of that, all commodity prices have been put up and the situation created where ordinary people can hardly survive. They could not take the country forward even by an inch. Now the SLFP is going into another alliance with the fascist-like JHU together with the JVP – hanging out the flags of war.

In the process of globalisation, what we are experiencing is that all the rights won by working people through sacrificing their blood and lives are being taken back. The so-called compensation formula (of redundancy pay) is pushing the working class to suicides. At the same time, the poor peasants are going to be chased out from their traditional lands and preparations are being made to hand over land and water to multinationals. The environment and natural resources are being destroyed in this process.

The Alliance government, which included the JVP, has prepared the ground to destroy free education completely. The health service has been neglected in favour of private hospitals. In this process we are being enslaved by the imperialist powers. We should fight these destructive forces without surrendering.

The only policy of the people fighting each other to come to power – the UNP and the SLFP-JVP-JHU – is to pawn the country to the imperialists. The JVP say today this clique is better than the other clique. But earlier they said they would never go into any alliance with the capitalist forces. Now they are going the same way as all the traditional left parties, exposing that they have no alternative but to go behind the capitalist SLFP.

Class solidarity against capitalist and imperialist exploiters

The capitalist class has shown itself again and again incapable of solving the national question. Resolving the problems of the Tamils and Muslims is only possible through building a left government with a socialist programme, while accepting the right to self-determination. To win liberation and freedom for the Tamil-speaking people, the method of terrorism is not the answer. The Tamil-speaking people of this country should join hands with the whole working class and other oppressed people in the class struggle; this is the only way to win their freedom, replacing the capitalist system with a socialist alternative.

The US, together with other imperialist forces, uses their military power throughout the world, at present continuing their military role in Iraq and Afghanistan. India and Pakistan have become partners in this imperialist scheme.

We say no to the imperialist powers. Throughout the world we can see working class and oppressed people fighting for liberation. We need to unite our struggles to wipe out global capitalism.

We appeal to the working class and poor people of this country, including Tamils and Muslims. They have been cheated again and again by these capitalist leaders. They should decisively turn their backs on them and come to us. Taking it in turns, this or that capitalist is destroying our lives and that of our future generations.

  • Don’t vote for the UNP or SLFP-JHU-JVP alliance!
  • Vote for the USP, for socialism!

Programme for socialist change

We are fighting against imperialist domination, exploitation and all other kinds of oppression happening because of global capitalism. We fight against communalism, wars and religious bigotry and for a socialist system with workers’ democracy.

Stop all war preparations and work out a solution to the Tamil national question. As a transitional step, we propose – Immediately re-start peace negotiations with the involvement of elected representatives of working and poor people of the North, East and South; in the Hill Country, defend the national aspirations of the Tamil-speaking people; set up an autonomous region for the Tamil-speaking Muslim people in the East. We demand – Accept the right of self-determination and the homeland concept. That would be the basis for a solution.

The World Bank, IMF and WTO are implementing their programme through the UNP, SLFP, JHU and JVP. Defeat that and break from all imperialists’ conditions and establish the political and economic freedom of this country, Sri Lanka. Cancel the debt to foreign banks and governments to provide resources for the people; cancel all debts of the poor people. Grants not loans for Tsunami victims.

The right to free education, from Grade1 to university, must be defended. So must free health and all other important welfare provision. All low paid people and their families to get enough subsidies to live on.

All youth above 18 have the right to a job. All private and public sector employees should work no more than an 8 hour day and should get a proper living wage without discrimination. For equal pay for work of equal value and for all workers to have access to, and benefit from, new technology since they create it.

Defend the state sector while promoting efficient services. Every worker to have permanent employment, abolishing contract labour, temporary labour etc. All workers should have the right to join a trade union including in Free Trade Zones. Employers should accept workers’ right to organise unions and campaign effectively to win their demands. Justice for the 1980 strikers; jobs and due compensation to those fighters.

Break from all the conditions imposed by imperialism. To have modern economic development, and to solve the problems of poor peasants by resolving the issues of landlessness, water, debt and the high cost of seed and fertilizer, introduction of co-operative farming under the democratic control and management of peasant committees.

To abolish the present dictatorial presidential system and draw up a new constitution through democratically elected committees of workers and poor peasants, including the Tamils and Muslims on an equal footing. Under the capitalist system, women, children and disabled people are the most oppressed. We are fighting to eliminate all oppression.

Safeguard the rights of all to be able to read and write and to gain information. Remove the monopoly of capitalists over the media. For all media, artistic and cultural activities to be independent and freed from the grip of the state. Open access for all the people to the means of expression and recreation.

Because of everything being exploited to get maximum profits, exploiting all natural resources is having a disastrous effect on the environment. We fight against this to protect the future of the planet.

All the key economic sectors and institutions which have a direct impact on the people – health, education, water, electricity, power, highways, railways and other transport, irrigation, banks and insurance, ports and airports, estates and the plantation sector and telecoms must be removed from political interference and kept nationalised and run under democratic workers’ control and management.

The pro-imperialist UNP, SLFP and JHU/JVP are continuing the same globalisation programme and communal war preparations. Their policies are going to destroy our country and we appeal to you to vote for us. To have genuine and rapid development we are fighting for the economy to be geared not to making profits but to be based on a socialist programme of public ownership and the democratic planning of all resources to fulfill the needs of all people worldwide. The United Socialist Party will fight for these aims along with all the oppressed people under the leadership of the working class

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October 2005