Daily Archives: June 28, 2006
Former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, who was assassinated by the LTTE in 1991 in a suicide bomb attack.
In a ground breaking interview to an Indian news agency, the LTTE’s London based leader Anton Balasingham has apologised for the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi and called on India for greater participation in Sri Lanka’s peace process while providing guarantees that the LTTE will not target Indian leaders.
The Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF)in Jaffna. (File photo)
Significantly Balasingham states that the Rajiv Gandhi peace initiative would have succeeded if it was a federal structure such as in India, rather than one based on the provincial councils.
The timing of the Balasingham interview suggests that the LTTE is trying to bait India into providing the LTTE with some leverage over Colombo to enhance its diminished politico-military capacity.
After having tried out and rejected various initiatives from India, Rajiv Gandhi, Premadasa, Chandrika, Norway and Ranil, the LTTE is now once more hoping that India will bail it out of its present global isolation and provide it with some leverage over Colombo.
The LTTE, which has less than 5% of the support of the Sri Lankan population, has been combating the Sri Lankan state by deploying a multi pronged strategy. In recent years each one of its strategies has been successfully contained.
The struggle was financed from overseas Diaspora contributions, mainly from Canada and Europe. Within the last 12 months the LTTE has been proscribed both in Canada and Europe and its fund raising capacity has been significantly curtailed.
The LTTE have also used foreign powers to pressurise and checkmate Colombo. Initially it was India and the relationship turned sour as India was not going to deliver a separate state to the LTTE. Rajiv Gandhi who flour bombed Jaffna, and was assaulted by a Sri Lankan naval rating was later assassinated by the LTTE and India banned the LTTE. More recently the LTTE turned to Norway and the International community, but here again the honeymoon has ended with the proscription of the LTTE in Europe.
Another weapon in the LTTE arsenal was human rights. LTTE manufactured what it referred to as "genocide" and used this to pressure the Sri Lankan state, damage its image and economy. After 9/11 and 7/7, human rights as an LTTE weapon have also diminished. So has its capacity to pressure the Sri Lankan state.
The walls are closing in on the LTTE and it has no relief at home either. There is gathering momentum among the anti-LTTE Tamil groups which are increasingly inflicting serious damage on the LTTE, demolishing the LTTE concept of being the sole representatives.
In the South, the LTTE has been observing the Sri Lankan army preparing for war and the suicide attack this week against the Sri Lankan army’s Vanni Commander, should be considered as a pre-emptive strike, to delay/disrupt a military offensive into the Vanni.
It is significant that India and the International community have been requesting Colombo to hold back the dogs of war. Even as India condemned the suicide attack on General Kulathunga it once again reiterated that war is not the answer to Sri Lanka’s problems.
The Government that the LTTE faces in Colombo is one that is determined and will not pull any punches, if it goes to war. The LTTE is aware of this.
The LTTE is under severe cumulative politico-military pressure at present and Balasingham reaching out to India should be viewed in this light.
The resolution of the Sri Lankan conflict must be one that is accepted by all Sri Lanka’s communities. Within this framework, there are various agendas. Some are pushing for a federal Sri Lanka on the Indian model, as any Tamil federal state in North and East Sri Lanka could be used as leverage against Colombo. It was a pro Russian Mrs Gandhi who first used this strategy by arming Tamil militants to destabilise the pro American Jayewardene regime in Colombo.
The Indians used human rights to pressure Colombo on the grounds that South Indian Tamils were concerned about their brethren in Sri Lanka who were suffering at the hands of the Sri Lankan security forces.
After the induction of the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) the human rights record of the Sri Lankan army was proved to be far superior to the human rights record of the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) in Sri Lanka.
Colombo will naturally resist Indian style federalism in Sri Lanka.
Balasingham’s interview this week is clearly aimed at exploiting these differences to the LTTE’s advantage.
(This article was written before India turned down the LTTErequest.)
-Island by Dushy Ranetunge
LTTE’S BRUTAL ASSASSINATION OF THE ARMY’S DEPUTY Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Parami Kulatunge in a suicidal mission on Monday (26) had come in for strong condemnation by all quarters both at local and international levels.
UN Secretary General Kofi Anan, in a communique issued from his office condemned the gruesome terrorist act and called upon the Government to show restraint and still dedicate for a negotiated settlement to the conflict in Sri Lanka.
“The Secretary-General condemns today’s suicide bomb attack in Sri Lanka which killed Major General Parami Kulatunge, the third-highest ranking officer in the Sri Lanka Army, and three other people near the capital Colombo. He expresses his heart-felt condolences to the families of the bereaved and the government of Sri Lanka. The Secretary-General reiterates that no cause can justify such acts of violence. The Secretary-General appeals to the parties to re-double their efforts to resume peace talks under the facilitation of the Norwegian Government,” the statement issued by the office of the UN Secretary-General stated.
Ministry of Defence Sri Lanka
After fifteen years of his killing, the Gandhi family received another note of condolence for late Mr. Rajiv Gandhi from the killer himself. The "Doctor of Terror", Anton Balasingham the so called chief negotiator of the LTTE expressed his sincere condolences to India on behalf his "Naughty boy", Terror chief Velupillai Prabhakaran during an interview in a TV channel on Tuesday the 27th of June.
"As far as that event is concerned…I would say it is a great tragedy… a monumental historical tragedy… which we deeply regret, and we call upon the government of India and people of India to be magnanimous to put the past behind…" – Balasingham
Although the above statement of Balasingahm is very much disappointing for the terror sympathizing media people who always waited happily till LTTE claims the responsibility for their crimes; the LTTE leadership has decided it is much wiser at this moment to admit responsibility at least for this single crime.
It is evident that the LTTE leadership desperately wants the Indian people to forget and forgive the "naughty boy" once cajoled by them for behaving so badly. I won’t do it to you again, but please help me to continue with my terrorism in Sri Lanka; the "naughty boy" seems to beg form India.
"We have made pledges to the government of India that under no circumstance will we act against the interests of the government of India." – Balasingham
Obviously not at this moment, the LTTE knows that the whole world is getting lined up against terrorism. Hence, Prabhakaran wants to convince the Indian government, that he is the "sole representative" of Tamils in Sri Lanka only and never in Thamilnadu; He needs only his Elam and that he has on interest what so ever in Tamilnadu. He further assures the Indian government that he will confine his terrorism to Sri Lanka, only. Well , the Indian government can be sure about it.
It is of course very interesting to see that Prabhakaran being brave enough to admit at least a one single crime that he committed. Unlike other terrorist organizations in the world, that competes with each other to claim the responsibility of their attacks; the LTTE leadership has never had the guts to admit it’s own deeds. Obviously , no other terrorist organization has ever done shameless crimes such as hacking pregnant women, children and unarmed civilians to death , selecting pregnant women to be suicide cadres, choosing children as one way fighters and etc.
To conclude, it is worth quoting the editorial of the "Daily News" on 27th June 2006 for the comprehension of all peace loving people in Sri Lanka as well as India
There is one important lesson that we learn, un-learn, re-learn and sometimes forget or are forced to un-remember: the LTTE does not want peace, does not understand peace, does not know the basic principles of democracy and civilised conduct.
Let the nation and the international community understands this: no amount of international pressure, no amount of cajoling, no amount of olive-branches and no amount of suffering for the people he purports to represent will persuade a madman to drop his guns
Read thee full text of the article published on The Hindu on the aforesaid interview:
Courtesy- The Hindu
We killed Rajiv, confesses LTTE
Fifteen years after a LTTE suicide bomber killed Rajiv Gandhi in Sriperumbudur, the Tamil rebel outfit on Tuesday admitted its responsibility for the crime and delivered a public apology.
In an interview to a TV network on Tuesday, Anton Balasingham, LTTE ideologue and one of Tiger chief Velupillai Prabhakaran’s confidants, executed a major shift of policy, describing the May 21, 1991, killing of Rajiv Gandhi as "a monumental historical tragedy".
"As far as that event is concerned…I would say it is a great tragedy… a monumental historical tragedy… which we deeply regret, and we call upon the government of India and people of India to be magnanimous to put the past behind… and to approach the ethnic question in a different perspective," Balasingham said.
Asked if the LTTE could promise that it would not commit such acts again, Balasingham added Thus far, the LTTE has denied that it was responsible for the killing of Rajiv Gandhi. Reacting to the LTTE admission, Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh said: "It’s good that after so many years they (LTTE) have admitted to having killed Rajiv Gandhi.
For India, it was a national tragedy because Rajiv Gandhi was the most popular leader of his time. Now the question is of fixing responsibility for the crime."
In another interview, minister of state for external affairs Anand Sharma said it would be impossible to put the past behind, as Balasingham suggested, because India had "rule of law" and it could not be seen to be condoning the politics of violence by rehabilitating the LTTE.
The belated LTTE admission of guilt has less to do with genuine remorse than the compulsion to drive a wedge between India and Sri Lanka, say analysts who have followed the LTTE for years.
At this point, the Tigers’ interest would lie in preventing the growing convergence between India and the Lankan government, particularly in the defence sector, which has ramped up Sri Lankan capability, especially against the LTTE.
Balasingham reminded everyone of the fact that India had initially trained the LTTE, asking it to return to a more active role.
The LTTE statement comes as the outfit finds itself with virtually no friends, especially after the European Union banned it last month. -MoD Sri Lanka
British High Commissioner in Colombo Dominick Chilcott on Friday declared that the international community and the British government expected the highest standards of conduct from the Sri Lankan security forces, even at this moment of provocation – because they were representing and defending democracy. No nation’s armed forces were perfect – but when serious lapses in discipline occurred, they should be investigated fully and the perpetrators dealt with under the law. Emphasis is mine.
Three days later an LTTE suicide bomber blew up the Sri Lanka Army’s number three Maj. Gen. Parami Kulatunga on High Level road near Pannipitiya as he was being driven to Army headquarters. The killer will be remembered Wednesday (July 5) when the LTTE celebrates the annual Black Tigers’ Day in memory of a TULF MP’s son who carried out the first suicide mission.
Contrary to expectations the government did not at least order retaliatory strikes on pre-identified terrorist targets. This would have gladdened the international community. The government ordered limited retaliatory strikes in the immediate aftermath of high profile terrorist attacks beginning with the April 25 assassination bid on Army Chief Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka. Government leaders are on record saying that they would pursue what defence spokesman Minister Keheliya Rambukwella termed as a tit for tat policy. Did the government’s attitude change due to international pressure?
Chilcott chose a well attended party to celebrate the Queen’s 80th Birthday to pressure the government.
"The British Government shares with other governments and the people of Sri Lanka the strongest sense of horror and outrage at attacks on innocent civilians," he said. He welcomed the President’s statesmanlike call for restraint after the assassination attempt on the Army commander. The British Government shared the President’s belief that a tolerant, multicultural society was the best answer to those who foment hatred and ethnic division, he said.
The tone of Chilcott’s talk did not put off the locals from gobbling up and enjoying the British hospitality. What would have happened if Sri Lankan High Commissioner in the UK Kshenuka Seneviratne urged the British to quit Iraq or any other theatre of operations they were deployed in support of the US military?
Britain went ahead with her Iraq deployment despite protests by major EU powers including the French and Germans.
The government appears to have taken Chilcott’s advice seriously. The bottom line is that the Tigers could blow up Deputy Chief of Staff who may have succeeded the Army Chief even without facing a retaliatory artillery barrage. This would facilitate Tigers’ murderous quest for a separate State in the northern and eastern provinces. Wouldn’t the forces be demoralised?
The likes of Chilcotts should advise the London based Anton Balasingham, a former British High Commission clerk to give up violence. The British passport holder and his Australian-born wife Adele promote terrorism despite the group they represented being a proscribed entity in the 25-nation EU. The involvement of the British in helping the Balasinghams to reach the UK via Thailand after clandestinely leaving Sri Lanka during the CBK presidency and a hardcore LTTE cadre’s visit to HMS Chatham during the vessel’s deployment off Batticaloa in the aftermath of tsunami revealed British double standards. Sri Lanka is one of the few countries which backed the British military action against Argentina over the seizure of the Falklands Island in the 80s.
Sri Lanka has a legal right to self defence under the UN Charter. Are we going to give up this right? Are we merely going to condemn LTTE terrorism? Dear Mr. President, take meaningful action before it is too late.
Dear Mr. High Commissioner please take tangible steps to neutralise Tiger activity. The recent EU ban on the LTTE and the British proscription which came into operation years ago had not neutralised the group. The presence of Balasinghams and many other operatives is evidence that the group was largely free to operate. Funds raised in foreign countries facilitate LTTE terror. The UK based Tamil Diaspora remains perhaps the largest contributor.
A colleague of Chilcott years ago acknowledged this. David Tatham during a visit to Jaffna late August 1998 emphasised the urgent need to prevent overseas funding of the LTTE. Addressing a small gathering, he said, "What I would urge you to do is to appeal to the Tamil Diaspora-to your relatives and friends living abroad-to help, not in destroying this Island but in rebuilding it. I think you should be asking people living in England, Canada, Australia, wherever to send money to restore civilian life." It was Tatham’s third visit to Jaffna since troops brought it under government control in December 1995. Stressing the need for a negotiated settlement to Sri Lanka’s national problem, Tatham said, "WAR WAS WISHED ON THE GOVERNMENT." Emphasis is mine.
Tatham’s visit came in the backdrop of the assassination of Jaffna Mayor Sarojini, the wife of assassinated TULF MP Vettuvelu Yogeswaran. Referring to assassination (of Sarojini), he said, "We have to build the democratic structures of local government and I know that the murder of your previous Mayor was deplored all over the world. This was a blow to democracy and a blow to representative government and everyone saw this. It was an attempt to impose what you have described as gun culture."
Sarojini Yogeswaran’s successor P. Sivapalan who was among the audience as Tatham attacked the LTTE was killed the following month. Mrs. Yogeswaran was killed on May 17 1998. The LTTE blew up Sivapalan inside the building put up during Alfred Duraiappa’s tenure as the Jaffna Mayor.
I knew Parami Kulatunga for over 15 years. A devoted Buddhist, Kulatunga believed in a negotiated settlement but acknowledged the impossibility of bringing the LTTE back to the negotiating table. He strongly believed in no nonsense approach towards the LTTE.
In the aftermath of two claymore blasts last December National Peace Council Chief Jehan Perera claimed "these are tragic yet inevitable results of the stagnant peace process in which the CFA itself is not being fully complied with. The one-page statement dated December 9 justified LTTE terror. I believe the NPC included the assassination of Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar too in this category. The international community was worse. The UN Security Council insisted on the implementation of the Oslo-arranged CFA. Japan in a statement issued as the serving UN Council’s country president said that UN Security Council wanted the government and the LTTE to implement the provisions of the CFA and to continue their dialogue to attain sustainable peace and stability. This statement came two days after Ambassador Jayantha Dhanapala and Foreign Secretary H. M. G. S. Palihakkara called for an urgent review of the CFA. Dhanapala said that there would have to be a serious review of certain policies and procedures followed upto now in relation to the peace process. Sri Lanka’s call was ignored. Now the LTTE wants to amend the CFA to protest against the EU ban. Did Kadirgamar die in vain? No one will be able to fill his vacancy. HE WAS PEERLESS. As the international community and the British government expected the highest standards of conduct from the Sri Lankan security forces, even at this moment of provocation – because they were representing and defending democracy, the government did not at least order a limited retaliatory attack. Maj. Gen. Vajira Wijegoonewardene who proposed a genuine crackdown on LTTE activity in the city and its suburbs was unceremoniously removed from his command. Maj. Gen. Wijegoonewardene’s action plan was to neutralise the growing threat in the aftermath of Kadirgamar’s assassination.
For the benefit of Colombo-based peace merchants let me reproduce a report by Sky Television. This was in the immediate aftermath of a series of blasts in London on July 7 last year. Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair was quoted by Sky Television as saying, "…I think we are quite comfortable that the (shoot-to-kill) policy is right but of course these are fantastically difficult times." Asked if the instructions were to shoot to kill if police believed a suspect was a suicide bomber, he said, "Correct. They have to be that." This statement was made after British police shot 27-year Brazilian electrician Jean Charles de Menezes five times believing the illegal immigrant was a suicide bomber. The London police paid for a holiday for one of their colleagues involved in the fatal shooting, a day after at least four suicide bombers botched a second string of attacks across London. The initial blasts in three subway trains and a bus killed over 50 people. Want to know who personally authorised the vacation for the officer involved in the shooting? Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair, Britain’s top cop. All right thinking people would regret the killing of the Brazilian but hats off to Blair for standing by his men. I hope our top brass would do the same. -Island by Shamindra Ferdinando
With Colombo gripped by a terrible foreboding even as army top brass Major General Kulatunga fell victim to a suicide bomber Monday, the government has been plunged into further confusion.
It was obvious President Mahinda Rajapakse was out of his depth. In fact only last Tuesday in a bid to salvage his fallen image and desperate to stop the bleeding that his myopic and hard-line policies had subjected this nation, he hastily made a phone call to the Chief Editor of the Uthayan Newspaper N. Vidyaharan entreating him to broker a secret pact with the LTTE bypassing the Norwegian facilitators. The details of this mooted secret pact was exclusively reported in The Sunday Leader Suranimala column last week.
Stating the obvious that the country was facing an imminent war he was to tell Vidyaharan, “Both the LTTE and the army are preparing for war and the people and I are caught in between. We don’t have to work through Norway. Why don’t we deal directly?”
A sentiment to which the LTTE did not take too kindly. When the President’s words were conveyed by the Uthayan Editor to LTTE Chief Negotiator Anton Balasingham, he was to laugh and retort that President Rajapakse was the army. “How can he be caught in between when he is the Commander of the armed forces and the Defence Minister and his brother is the Defence Secretary?” the Chief Negotiator of the LTTE was to say. Balasingham on Monday confirmed to TamilNet the veracity of the comments attributed to him.
Rajapakse must realise that he cannot play the innocent baby all the time. If the Commander in Chief of the armed forces and indeed the Chief Executive of this nation admits that he has no control over his army, this country is headed for anarchy and military mayhem.
In fact the situation is even more serious when one considers that a suicide bomber was able to infiltrate the very heartland of the Army Headquarters in Colombo and seriously injure the nation’s Army Commander even as Pirapaharan is safely ensconced in the impenetrable jungles of Wanni.
To add insult to injury, SLMM Chief Ulf Henricsson in an interview to this newspaper while holding that neither the LTTE nor the government can win if a war breaks out also opined that the Sri Lanka armed forces were ill trained. General Kalkat who led the IPKF troops to Sri Lanka over 15 years ago was also of the view that a war cannot be won by either side.
It is to this Molotov cocktail that the country’s Chief Executive adds the incendiary remark that he has no control of the army.
It is these puerile statements and naiveté that had unfortunately been the hallmark of Rajapakse’s seven-month rule. While it has done much to sully his personal image locally, it has done even more to blacken the image of the country as a whole, globally. The President in a short period has successfully shattered the international bridges and world confidence that prevailed when he took over power in November last year.
The confusion with which Rajapakse operates was further demonstrated for even as he attempted to a moot a secret pact with the LTTE to halt violence for a two week trial period with a pledge to contain the Karuna group, his own government ally, the JVP, and more particularly his close confidant and propagandist Wimal Weerawansa was calling for the LTTE Supremo’s head.
In parliament last Tuesday (20) morning Weerawansa demanded three things. The permanent de-merger of the north and east, the proscription of the LTTE and the charging of Pirapaharan for war crimes in the Hague. While Weerawansa was calling for all out war in the morning, Rajapakse that very evening was meeting the Uthayan newspaper Editor to broker a truce and even pledging to contain the Karuna group. Was the JVP as usual playing to the gallery? If not what would its response be to the President’s secret pact? After all it was the JVP that shouted from the roof tops about a ali koti givisuma.
Firstly, the very fact that the President was secretly negotiating to contain the Karuna faction gives lie to the oft repeated government position that Karuna does not operate in government-controlled areas and the paramilitary group has no dealings with the legitimate state.
Secondly, the government and its allies have no coherent policy despite the rhetoric of a southern consensus at All Party Conferences which have proved to be a colossal waste of time.
Wooing the UNP
Be that as it may, Rajapakse, now cornered on all sides, was to turn once again to the UNP. Mind you, only a couple of weeks ago the President was to tell a group of editors at Temple Trees that he would be poaching members from the UNP in order to gain more power in parliament.
To this end last Sunday (25) President Rajapakse was quick to broach the subject with Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe. Both Rajapakse and Wickremesinghe were invitees at the 150th anniversary of the Jayawardenepura Kotte Sri Kalyani Samagi Sangha Sabawa. As Rajapakse walked in he darted towards Wickremesinghe stating, “Mata obathumawa hambawenna onai” (I want to meet you). Wickremesinghe replied that he was going abroad Tuesday night and they could perhaps meet when he got back.
Rajapakse showing some slight desperation was to then observe, “Oh I didn’t know that. But weren’t you out recently for about one and a half months?” Wickremesinghe then said, “Yes I was in the US on a study tour and also in India.”
But if Wickremesinghe was being sought after by President Rajapakse to salvage him from the mess he has gotten into, he was also a much sought after man on Sunday for his knowledge on Buddhism. It was the devoutly religious Rajapakse who was to first get up and make a halting speech reading from a paper.
Following the President’s speech, Wickremesinghe was to wax eloquent on the subject with no piece of paper before him, stunning the Mahanayake theros and the maha sangha present. It was then that both Sobitha Thero and the Kotte Mahanayake prevailed upon Wickremesinghe to reduce his extensive knowledge on Buddhism into print form for posterity and for the benefit of the younger generation.
Be that as it may, it was unlikely that Wickremesinghe or the UNP would now help the President who had earlier vowed to poach their very members in parliament. The UNP will continue to boycott the committee drafting the new constitution. With the CWC and the TNA having also decided to boycott the committee, Rajapakse is now left with only his own fractious allies including the extremist JVP and JHU.
Given the JVP’s insistence on a unitary state and its total rejection of federalism as per the Oslo Communiqué and the Tokyo Declaration, there is little likelihood of any solution being formulated any time soon.
President blasts Kohona
Meanwhile, an already harried Rajapakse had more to worry about. Last week on Thursday (22) he was to telephone Peace Secretariat Head Palitha Kohona in an agitated manner and blast him. Rajapakse who was with Keheliya Rambukwella at the time had just been briefed about a press statement posted on the Peace Secretariat website which in effect welcomed the LTTE’s response to Norway’s five point questionnaire and agreed to an amendment of the CFA. According to this statement the only contentious issue was the time frame of one month set by the LTTE, the Peace Secretariat said it agreed with the Norwegian government that at least six months was needed to affect the changes.
Kohona who was attending a cocktail hosted by the British High Commission to mark the Queen’s birthday was to cautiously answer his mobile phone. “What have you done?” President Rajapakse queried angrily in Sinhala. He was reacting to a front page lead in the state-run Daily News published on Thursday. “Why has the Peace Secretariat said it was encouraged by the positive response from the LTTE on Norway’s questionnaire but raised concern over the LTTE’s request to replace EU truce monitors with new monitors within a month?”
Continued the irate President, “Why is the Peace Secretariat not consulting me on these vital matters?”
“I am trying to do a political balancing act,” he said speaking in choice Sinhala. “Before the elections we opposed the Norwegians so how can we make such statements?” Highly agitated, Rajapakse shouted, “If this is the case and we agree to the amendment then tell everybody to go (hamotama yanna kiyanna), let us then go the whole nine yards.”
The President continued. “As your statement has been crafted diplomatically and it could easily be twisted the other way now you must release another statement saying you are opposed to the amendment,” Rajapakse ordered Kohona.
Government Defence Spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella who was present with Rajapakse was then to interject that it would be unethical of the government to appear to agree to the amendment in one statement and then to contradict it in a later statement.
However the President’s thinking was that having opposed the Norwegians and their role as monitors the government was now seen to be agreeing to an amendment that would strengthen Norway’s presence in the monitoring unit.
But Rajapakse was again demonstrating his lack of understanding of not only diplomacy but also an ignorance of his own government response to the five point questionnaire. Earlier the government had responded positively to all five questions including the amendment of clause 3.5 of the Cease Fire Agreement (CFA). Clause 3.5 states that the SLMM shall comprise members of Nordic countries.
The LTTE too while responding positively to the questions, agreed to an amendment of the CFA. However, it insisted on the removal of SLMM monitors from the EU countries (Denmark, Finland and Sweden) due to the European Union ban on the LTTE which it claimed would seriously disturb the neutrality of these countries. The LTTE also insisted on a one month deadline for the change in the composition of the monitoring unit.
With Rajapakse insisting on a change in position within 24 hours, on Friday, June 23, Kohona was to instruct the Peace Secretariat to release another press statement. This statement contradicted in effect its statement of the previous day.
“The GOSL rejects the rationale behind the LTTE’s demand for the removal of SLMM monitors from EU countries and agrees with the observation made by the Norwegian Minister for International Development Erik Solheim quoted in the Royal Norwegian Government (RNG) media release of June 22 that ‘the LTTE’s demand that SLMM monitors from EU countries be replaced is deeply regrettable and will weaken the SLMM in a critical period.’”
The government further reiterated its fullest confidence in the SLMM including the monitors from EU countries. In doing so the government has tacitly accepted the SLMM’s post Geneva report dated June 4 wherein it was stated the government was to blame for the breakdown of the Geneva agreement. That subtlety no doubt was lost on the powers that be at Temple Trees.
Rajapakse was of the view that it was only Media Minister Anura Priyadarshana Yapa who had got the message right as he had told the media that the government had problems with the monitors but these problems had now been solved.
Rajapakse is however facing a further dilemma. Already the government had said it would oppose any moves to reappoint a Norwegian as the SLMM head as Oslo is already acting as the peace facilitator as well.
The government agreeing to an amendment of the CFA could mean that it seeks an expansion of the composition of the monitors to include countries outside the EU. However, it is unlikely that given the basis on which the LTTE has opposed the EU monitors that it would agree to any country that had already banned the group for the same reason.
In the meantime, Rajapakse, in a political quandary, has now activated a series of surveys to test the waters for an election as early as August this year. Already the JHU has approached him to set out their case. They have told Rajapakse that the monks command much more support now due to their agreeability to look at a federal solution based on the Indian model. However it would be the extremist JVP that would prove a thorn in the side of a PA victory.
According to back room discussions, Rajapakse is considering shedding himself of the JVP as there would be an inevitable confrontation on policy. His thinking is to contest without the JVP while allowing it to contest alone, thus leaving room for a post election deal with the reds to create a stronger alliance.
Nonetheless Rajapakse is a harried man, looking to the UNP, a snap election , a secret pact with the LTTE and to the stars to help him out of a sticky situation. Perhaps now, after over 700 deaths he will realise that statesmanship and good governance is a lot more than a charming smile and a buth packet.
[Lanka Page Editor’s Pick STATE OF THE NATION The Morning Leader]