The United Nations Organization was under constant attack in the recent past by various factions for not being able to effectively carry out its responsibilities during the last phase of the civil war in Sri Lanka. One of the main allegations was that it could have prevented the alleged large number of civilian deaths if the UN intervened at the right time in the correct way. However, the UN appointed a committee headed by Charles Petrie to investigate these allegations. The tenure of this committee to submit the report ends in July and it is now expected they will present the final report on their findings in the coming weeks.
Political analysts are of the opinion that this report will have a great impact on Sri Lanka. Even though it is not clear as to what the contents of Petrie’s report would be, experts in the political arena opine that it will be as controversial as the report issued by the Darusman Committee, which was appointed by UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon to look into issues which took place during the last phase of the humanitarian operations in Sri Lanka.
Even though, it is easy for India to react to these reports, in a situation where the political parties supporting the central government are influencing the latter to take action against Sri Lanka, it is also not easy to remain silent. It was this same reason or same political condition that led India to vote against Sri Lanka in Geneva last March when the USA brought a resolution against human rights violations.
Menon’s getaway theory
It is in this context that India’s National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon is scheduled to visit Sri Lanka. Menon has a very lukewarm policy when it comes to matters pertaining to Sri Lanka. If put simply, he adopted a ‘shape theory’ or a getaway theory.
Menon has visited Sri Lanka quite a few times before and every time he came to the country what he said was that Tamil Nadu’s influence is increasing and the Sri Lankan Government should find a solution to the Tamil issue immediately. It is yet too early to predict whether Menon will visit the country on 29 June with his getaway theory in mind or whether it is to issue a final warning to the government.
Until recently it was those political parties who openly backed the LTTE which were pushing for a quick solution to the issue in the North and the East, but now the phenomenon has taken a twist. Even though opposition parties like the BJP, the Communist Party, Jayalalithaa Jeyaram’s AIDMK and parties led by Vaiko and Nadumaran were in the forefront forcing the Central Government to intervene to find a solution to Sri Lanka’s national problem, now it is Central Government that have come to the forefront.
This bandwagon is led by Tamil Nadu opposition leader M Karunanidhi and his party DMK. Karunanidhi has taken the Sri Lanka matter to hand and clearly engaged in provoking people in Tamil Nadu and it is no doubt that he is carrying out this agenda with the blessings of the central government.
Karunanidhi’s recent remark that an Eelam state should be established in Sri Lanka created volumes of controversies. He did not stop there but sent a fax message to Indian Premier, Dr. Manmohan Singh, demanding that he should inquire into the opinion of Sri Lankan Government with regard to a statement made by Power and Energy Minister Champika Ranwake.
Ranawaka recently said Tamil people should keep in mind to work accordingly, so that what took place in Wellamulliwaikkal during the last few days of the war will not be repeated.
In the meantime, another danger looms for Sri Lanka with Petrie’s report being issued, as it is predicted that Sri Lanka will face an economic crisis following the report. A serious economic crisis is looming in European countries, with the economic experts warning that this Eurozone crisis will have a great impact on the Sri Lankan economy as well, but the government repeatedly insist that Sri Lanka will not have to face an economic crisis. Despite these repeated claims the government has planned to issue sovereign bonds and earn billions of rupees. The government has decided to sell sovereign bonds for the first time since 2007.
Tamara and Cuba
While, these issues were broiling in local political circles, much attention was also focused on President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s much hyped visit to Cuba last week, with speculations of a possible meeting between Rajapaksa and the great leader of Cuba; Fidel Castro.
Todate the Sri Lankan Embassy in Cuba has an acting ambassador as the External Affairs Ministry and is yet to finalize the appointment of an ambassador. Tamara Kunnanayagam whose posting in Geneva as Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva is set to end in July, was to be transferred to Havana on the instructions of the President, but she had said she has no intention of continuing working in the Sri Lanka Foreign Service.
Following Rajapaksa’s controversial London visit he was scheduled to tour Rome and meet the Pope. The President while leaving for Rome called Tamara to invite her to join him in his Rome visit. Though Tamara had already decided to quit the Foreign Service she decided to join the President’s Rome tour on his invitation. Completion of the 42nd year of Rajapaksa’s entry into Parliament was also on a date during the Rome visit. A tea party was organised in Rome in this regard and it was attended by President Rajapaksa, Prof. G.L. Peiris, Tamara and Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith. It was during this meeting Cardinal Ranjith started praising Tamara for her contribution in Geneva when the USA backed resolution against Sri Lanka was put forward and almost everyone who was around witnessed colour drain from Prof. Peiris’ face, hearing this praise.
He did not keep silent at that moment but was quick to intervene and say that it was decided to make r major changes in Sri Lanka Foreign Service following the defeat in Geneva and as a result Tamara is to be posted in Havana. Tamara who did not seem ready to take this remark silently shot back in public that she will not take the post in Cuba and has decided to stay at home instead.
However, after this discussion President Rajapaksa had a one on one meeting with Tamara and explained her that he is not simply sending Tamara to Cuba but with a broader plan in mind.
He told her that she will be posted in Cuba with responsibility of cultivating relations with all South American countries as the special representative of the President to the region of Latin America. With President’s explanation of her responsibilities Tamara agreed to take up the Cuban tour as well with the President.
Despite, speculation the President however, was not able to visit Fidel Castro due to a major lapse by officials in the Sri Lankan mission in Havana. Though, they attempted to arrange a quick meeting between the two leaders, the Cuban authorities informed the mission that they are unable to arrange a meeting within such short notice. Even though, President Rajapaksa was able to meet the family members of the Cuban revolutionary hero Che Guerra including his wife, son and close family, it couldn’t completely appease the President over his disappointment at not meeting Castro.
Wedding guests CBK and SF
While, the President was touring Latin American, countries the former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga and Rajapaksa’s opponent in 2010 Presidential Election Sarath Fonseka met at a wedding in Minuwangoda. The wedding was held at a house of a businessman in the area who is known as Kabeer. Since Kabeer is associating with politicians from both the ruling party and the opposition, the wedding looked like an all party conference.
A couple entered the room in the midst of the wedding and were able to grab the show from the bride and the groom as everyone’s attention was focused on them. It was none other than former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka and his wife Anoma Fonseka and all those who attended the wedding were seen flocking near Fonseka.
He was surrounded by politicians from the opposition and government ministers when another personality walked into the hall where function took place. It was former President Chandrika Kumaratunga and upon arrival she saw one of her old-time friend Dr. Rajitha Senaratna was also present.
She walked to that table and was later seen engaged in a long discussion with Fonseka and Rajitha over current affairs. While they continued to walk down the memory lane recalling important political incidents that took place in the past Kumaratunga suddenly declared that it was the UNP that actually defeated Fonseka more than Rajapaksa.
She said that in her opinion Fonseka actually won the presidential election but it was the UNP who carried a lukewarm campaign for Fonseka towards the latter part of the election canvassing. Giving some examples to prove her point she said that when she received information about several goons led by Deputy Minister Sarana Gunawardena having attacked polling booths in Attanagalla, she informed Ranil about the incident and the rest kept silent.
As Kumaratunga continued with her charges Fonseka agreed that when he too was told about these acts, by certain persons to pull his leg. Kumaratunga declared the biggest mistake she committed in her political life was, to make Rajapaksa an Opposition Leader and subsequently a Prime Minister.
This angered Minister Senaratna and he said the biggest mistake she committed was taking over three ministries from the UNP government and toppling it. However, Kumaratunga continued to refute those claims and said that she continuously attempted to work in coalition with Ranil Wickremesinghe but he ignored these offers.
However, Senaratna informed her that he could not believe what she was claiming as it was completely in contrast to how she behaved. Kumaratunga then said that she has no intention of walking into active party politics again. Nevertheless, she offered to share her expertise and advise with who ever who seeks her assistance in political matters. While, insisting on the need for a strong opposition in the country she notes that to create a strong opposition one has to have those with a strong backbone in the leadership of those political parties. Only then would democracy prevail in the country.
Preparing for elections
As the heat of Provincial Council elections is warming up the political arena, the UNP too seems busy preparing election propaganda. Opposition Leaders of the North Central Provincial Council and Sabaragamuwa Provincial Councils met Wikcremesinghe along with several other councillors to discuss election propaganda. They unanimously opined that party leaders should be untied before doing anything else. They also said the campaign should be led by Sajith Premadasa as many people at the ground level want him and if he was not involved in the campaign, it will not be easy for the UNP to win.
However, Ranil’s response to all what they requested really left them dumbfounded. For, after listing to what everyone had to say, he said the UNP cannot win either the North Central Provincial Council or Sabaragamuwa election, no matter whether Sajith or anyone else handles propaganda work. He was also heard saying that he cannot discuss this with Sajith as he believes it is Sajith who should come to him to discuss these issues. He also warned councillors not to come to him to discuss the matter in future as he is not willing to go behind Sajith.
Following this meeting, the councillors went to meet Sajith who pledged to extend his fullest support for them during election canvassing.
He also noted he would do his best for the benefit of the party and its candidates but it is not up to him to unite the Party, but that it was the duty of the leadership, which was unfortunately busy taking revenge. The councillors made it clear to Sajith that Ranil would not do anything solid as he has already accepted defeat.