22.04.2019

The Indian papers have condemned the serial blasts in Sri Lanka and have called for political reconciliation in that country. The Mueller report on alleged Russian interference in the 2016 US Presidential elections have thrown up more questions than answers, say the Indian dailies. Exit polls in Indonesia say that the incumbent President is set for victory.

THE TIMES OF INDIA in an editorial TRAGIC EASTER writes eight serial blasts brutally tore through the peace of the day, targeting churches in different regions of the island nation as well as luxury hotels. Over 200 people were killed and 450 injured. Sri Lanka hasn’t seen this kind of violence ever since LTTE was defeated in 2009. The attacks didn’t come entirely out of the blue, given that Sri Lanka’s police chief had issued a nationwide alert ten days before, according to which suicide bombers aimed to hit prominent churches as well as the Indian High Commission in Colombo. The terrorists have struck in the midst of politically turbulent times, with President Sirisena and Prime Minister Wickremesinghe pulling in opposite directions. Now, however, they must work together to forestall a serious security challenge. The force with which a decade’s relative peace has been suddenly shattered has lessons for the country.

THE HINDU in an editorial ROUGH ROAD says the investigation report of Special Counsel Robert Mueller is unlikely to end the scandal around Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election that has rocked American politics for the last two and a half years. The redacted version that has been released confirms what U.S. Attorney General William Barr had said last month when he released a summary-Mr. Mueller neither indicts nor exonerates President Donald Trump. Mr. Mueller concluded that Russia interfered in the election in a “sweeping and systematic fashion”. The Russians carried out an information campaign on the Internet against Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and in favour of Mr. Trump, while Russian hackers hacked into the Democratic National Committee systems as well as Ms. Clinton’s campaign chief’s email account, and dumped the files on the Internet. While there were contacts between the Russians and Trump campaign members, the investigation doesn’t establish that “members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government”. But on the question on obstruction of justice, the Special Counsel was less emphatic.

THE STATESMAN in an editorial DATELINE JAKARTA opines Indonesia has registered a vote for continuity, a triumph of the incumbent. President Joko Widodo is poised for a comfortable victory over the former special forces commander, Prabowo Subianto, by nine percentage points. Of course, the margin has been indicated by what is known as “quick counts”; the final tally will be known only after a month when Indonesia’s National Election Commission declares the results. Going by Indonesia’s electoral history, a psephological swing is improbable. In his moment of victory, President Widodo has been remarkably gracious. “Let us reunite as brothers and sisters of the country after this election, establish our harmony and brotherhood”, he said after the elections. This is the first time that the world’s third largest democracy has held simultaneous presidential and parliamentary elections, and despite some hiccups the process appeared to run smoothly in most areas. Fairly convincing is the margin of the contest which has turned out to be tight; Widodo and his running mate, the Islamic cleric Ma’ruf Amin, is reported to have won 54.19 per cent of the votes, whereas Prabowo has fetched barely 45.81 per cent. President, Widodo has impressed voters with his commitment to building infrastructure and expanding social welfare, but has incurred criticism for having failed to address past human rights abuses and chronic corruption.