- SL Govt. asked
to account for General’s statement
- Tamil Diaspora
exploiting the statement
election promises by General Fonseka
anti-Sri Lanka attitude of a section of the international
community has taken a turn for the worse following General
Fonseka’s controversial statement to the Sunday Leader
newspaper that three LTTE leaders, Nadesan, Pulidevan and
Ramesh who had come forward carrying white flags to
surrender were summarily executed by the troops of the 58
Division on orders from Defence Secretary Gotabhaya
UN Special Rapporteur on Extra-judicial, Summary and
Arbitrary Executions Phillip Alston in a letter addressed to
Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative at the UN Kshenuka
Seneviratne has asked Sri Lankan government to account for
General Fonseka’s statement.
The UN official’s letter is an indication that the UNO has
not taken serious notice of General Fonseka’s subsequent
rebuttal. In the circumstances, the accusation earlier made
against Sri Lankan Government that it is guilty of
committing war crimes has gained added weight from General
Fonseka’s statement. This also means that Sri Lanka faces
the deprival of many concessions like enlistment of our
troops with UN Peace Corps deployed in foreign countries,
and provision of overseas military training programmes for
our military personnel, say high ranking military officers.
Former Navy Commander Vasantha Karannagoda too had echoed
this view in a recent interview with Rupavahini.
Despite having made a statement that has triggered a series
of international repercussions, a visibly unconcerned
General Fonseka keeps repeating at public rallies that he
would never betray the security forces or the country.
Meanwhile, the General’s sponsor the UNF and its leaders
keep mum about the General’s statement and also the UN
Special Rapporteur’s letter calling for the government’s
explanation. Their silence has set a poser to UNP members
and supporters as well.
Weak defence put up by Mangala and JVP
General Fonseka’s joint media spokesman Mangala Samaraweera
has said that the General’s statement should no longer be an
issue as the latter has already corrected the statement
misreported by the Sunday Leader. But he too has avoided
making any reference to the UN Special Rapporteur’s letter
sent to our Permanent Representative at the UN.
JVP’s Vijitha Herath added a new dimension to the issue when
he told the Divaina newspaper recently that the government
has, in cahoots with the UN launched a propaganda operation
aimed at defeating General Fonseka. He charged that the
government is giving unnecessary publicity to a letter sent
by Phillip Alston to vilify General Fonseka. Vijitha Herath
does not appear to have thought for a moment whether our
enlightened voters would buy such a cock and bull story.
Secretary to the Disaster Management and Human Rights
Minister Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha has pointed out that
Fonseka, a candidate at the upcoming presidential poll made
the controversial statement to gain political mileage and
later disowned it, adding that therefore, the charges made
by the UN Special Rapporteur in his letter are baseless.
State media has exploited both General Fonseka’s statement
and the UN Special Rapporteur’s letter as a propaganda
weapon against the common opposition candidate, little
realising the damage they are unwittingly causing to the
image of Sri Lanka abroad.
Tamil Diaspora makes hay while sun shines
Meanwhile, the Tamil Diaspora too is gleefully making use of
the General’s statement to create a world opinion against
Sri Lanka. They have begun staging protests and
demonstrations in a bid to place Sri Lanka in a bad light
abroad. For instance a large group from Tamil Diaspora from
Boston staged a demonstration opposite the office of the
Chairman of Foreign Relations Committee Senator John Kerry.
They were protesting against the recommendations made by the
Senate Committee on Foreign Relations that an effort be made
by the US to revive friendly relations with Sri Lanka and
providing military training programmes for Sri Lanka
military be resumed. Protesters demanded that the
recommendations made by the Senate Committee be rejected and
a probe into war crimes committed in Sri Lanka be launched.
Presidential election propaganda campaigns placed on top
With the presidential poll is only one month away,
propaganda activity on behalf of the two main candidates is
gaining full steam. Public rallies whistle-stop meetings,
and house-to-house canvassing have got underway at
grassroots level. However, both President Mahinda Rajapaksa
and the common opposition candidate General Fonseka have yet
to present their election manifestos.
A team comprising senior ministers, economists, and
intellectuals is busy preparing the UPFA election manifesto
which is to be unveiled early January, UPFA General
Secretary Susil Premajayantha said.
A group of Central Bank officials along with several
colleagues of theirs now on retirement is currently working
on the election manifesto of General Fonseka, UNF and JVP
Utopian promises held out by Fonseka
Several attractive promises like granting a Rs.10,000 pay
rise to public servants, paying a monthly allowance to
senior citizens of over 60 years, giving Police personnel
the option to retire on completion of 22 years of service,
extending to Police officers as well, the food subsidy
currently provided to service personnel and increasing the
Samurdhi allowance will figure in the manifesto of General
Fonseka, informed sources said.
Billions of rupees will be required to meet these
commitments. It is obvious that only a phenomenal increase
in government revenue could provide funds to honour the
promises. General Fonseka and the JVP argue that the funds
required to grant the pay hike to government employees,
could be found by eliminating waste and corruption in the
public sector. The General has pledged to scrap the
Executive Presidency within 180 days.
He plans to dissolve Parliament and hold a General
Parliamentary election and to appoint as Prime Minister the
leader of the political party winning the majority of seats
Meanwhile, UNF leader Ranil Wickremesinghe had told the
Sunday Leader last Sunday that he will become the Executive
Prime Minister in a government to be formed following the
next General Parliamentary election.
Dissolving Parliament, and holding a General election paving
the way for forming a new government and other collateral
imperatives will involve about three months, leaving the
General only three months to embark on the process of
abolishing the Executive Presidency. If he is to keep his
promise, he has to within the next three months introduce
the necessary Constitutional amendment in Parliament and
secure its passage by a two thirds majority and also hold a
Referendum to obtain the approval of the people.
UNP’s new Chief Organiser for Maharagama Wijedasa Rajapaksa,
who is now functioning as the Constitutional Advisor to the
UNP says that amending the Constitution sets no poser as the
UNP, JVP, SLMC and DPF combine is certain to muster a two
thirds majority in the next parliament.
In case the opposition combine fails to secure a two thirds
majority, Parliament could meet as a Constitutional Assembly
to adopt the new Constitution. He says that it is legal for
the proposed Constitutional Assembly to adopt the new
Constitution by a simple majority, even by a single majority
The enlightened public laughs off statements such these with
mild contempt. But ordinary people can become confused.
Journalists prevented from getting answers from the horse’s
There is an obstacle in the way of journalists keen on
getting matters clarified by General Fonseka himself at
media briefings held on behalf of the common opposition
candidate. Whenever a question is posed to General Forsake
at a media briefing, either Mangala Samaraweera or Anura
Kumara Dissanayake would jump up to reply on behalf of the
General. Incidentally, people recently could see in a recent
TV coverage on Rupavahini an angry Mangala Samarawera
breathing fire at journalists asking questions
TNA stand decisive for two main candidates
The stand to be taken by the TNA commanding 22 seats in
Parliament which is incidentally the largest Tamil political
party in the country, on their role at the upcoming
Presidential election is a decisive factor for the two main
The TNA, a combine of Illangai Tamil Arasukadchi, TELO,
EPRLF and TULF, has already held several rounds of
discussions aimed at taking a decision on their
participation in the Presidential election, but these talks
have so far ended in a stalemate, according to party
sources. The party is facing a split in the event of a
decision taken by the majority to back one of the two main
candidates against the other, party insiders said.
Meanwhile, Parliamentarian M.K.Shivajilingam from the TELO
has already come forward to contest as an independent
candidate. Sri Kantha, an MP from the same party had
seconded Shivajilingam’s nomination. Shivajilingam who is on
a visit to London to canvass the support of the Tamil
Diaspora is expected to be back in the country next week.
The TNA parliamentary group had met on December 22 with the
group leader R. Sampanthan in the chair. Despite a lengthy
discussion that ran into more than three hours, the group
had failed to break the deadlock over their political stand
vis-ŕ-vis the Presidential election. Of the 22 MPs of the
TNA, only 12 had participated in the discussions at this
Shivajilingam, Sri Kantha and Kishore not invited
Presidential hopeful M.K.Shivajilingam, Sri Kantha who is
backing him, and Sivanthan Kishor who had pledged his
support to President Mahinda Rajapksa had not been invited
to this meeting. The TNA leaders had reportedly decided to
discuss their conduct as a separate issue.
R. Sampanthan, Mavai Senathirajah, Suresh Premachandran and
Shivashakti Anandan belong to the group in favour of backing
General Sarath Fonseka’s candidacy. Gajendran Ponnambalam,
Solomon Cyril, Vino Nohotalingam, P.Airinethran, S.
Gajendran, Padmini Sithamparanathan and K.
Thgurairajasingham comprise the group that advocates the
party should abstain from supporting either of the two main
candidates Jaffna district MP M. Imam has opted to remain
Meanwhile, S. Adaikkalainathan, Thomas Thangathurai William
and Chandranehru Chandrakanthan who hold the view that the
party should withhold support to both main candidates, had
not attended the meeting. The meeting had ended with the
participants agreeing to take a final decision at their
Parliamentary group meeting due on January 4.
TNA leaders submit demands to General Fonseka
Meanwhile, TNA leaders R. Sampanthan, Mavai Senathirajah and
Suresh Premachandran had met the common opposition candidate
General Sarath Fonseka on December 22. UNF leader Ranil
Wickremesinghe and SLMC leader Rauff Hakeem too had
participated in these talks.
The TNA leaders had submitted a list of demands to General
Sarath Fonseka. Some of them are as follows:
* LTTE suspects numbering about 12,000 now being held under
the PTA should be released under a general amnesty
• High Security Zones established in the North and East
should be dismantled
• The number of army camps in the North and East should be
• A reasonable solution to the ethnic problem should be
• People displaced by war should be expeditiously resettled
in their original homes
• The IDPs once resettled should be provided with all
amenities to lead a normal life, and
• People whose houses were destroyed during hostilities
should be provided with new houses
General Fonseka had promised at these talks to remove the
High Security Zones in the North and East, reduce the number
of army camps in the two provinces and to take prompt action
to release the LTTE suspects under a general amnesty. He has
agreed on principle to meet the other demands as well,
according to a TNA MP. He said that the talks were a great
success. Rauff Hakeem who had attended the talks had
remarked that the talks were very productive.
Flashback to General Fonseka’s proposal to recruit 100,000
Soon after the conclusion of the war, General Sarath Fonseka
had submitted a proposal to the National Security Council to
reinforce the army by recruiting 100,000 more soldiers, and
establish army cantonments covering all main towns in the
North and East. His objective was to settle families of army
personnel in army cantonments to be opened up in places like
Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu. President Mahinda Rajapaksa had
shot down this proposal given the possible adverse reaction
to the proposed move by the international community.
Besides, he had to consider the massive cost the proposed
exercise involved. This is one of the main factors that
contributed to General Fonseka’s falling out with Defence
Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and President Rajapaksa.
Political analysts say that it is an irony that a person who
was keen on opening up army cantonments in the North and
East has now promised the TNA to thin out the army camps in
the two provinces and remove the High Security Zones from
there. Meanwhile, the TNA leaders are expected to meet the
UPFA Presidential candidate President Rajapaksa during this
week to discuss their demands with him. The TNA will
possibly take a final decision on whom they should back at
the Presidential election depending on the outcome of their
talks with the President on January 4.
TNA heading for a break-up?
Notwithstanding the decision that the TNA is to take on
January 4, indications are that a split in the TNA is not
preventable. The TNA had earlier decided not to support
Shivajilingam contesting as an independent candidate. What
is likely to happen at the end of the day, is that one
section of the TNA will support President Rajapaksa while
another section will throw in their lot with General
Fonseka. Still another section is likely to abstain from
playing any positive role in the election.
General Fonseka’s election campaign suffers a setback
The sensational statement that General Fonseka made during
an interview with the Sunday Leader that Major General
Shavendra Silva as the GOC of 58 Division had executed LTTTE
leaders who had come forward to surrender on orders from
Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, has made a serious
dent in his election campaign. Notwithstanding the
correction he made in a rebuttal late in the day, UN Special
Rapporteur on Extra-judicial, Summary and Arbitrary
Executions Phillip Alston has called for Sri Lanka’s
explanation triggering a public outcry.
Following this public outburst, the JVP and Mangala
Samaraweera holding a brief for General Fonseka has begun
attacking the Sunday Leader editor Fredericka Jansz. The
pro-UNP websites too have started carrying letters critical
Addressing a trade union anniversary celebration on December
23, JVP’s Lal Kantha challenged the Sunday Leader editor to
produce the audio tape containing the controversial
interview with General Fonseka. He categorically stated that
the editor had distorted what General Fonseka had said.
Another pro-UNP website said that the Sunday Leader had
carried that damaging interview at the instigation of
President Rajapaksa and Defence Secretary Gotabhaya
Rajapaksa in a bid to ruin General Fonseka’s political
career. Readers know very well that the Sunday Leader is an
anti-government newspaper quite partial to the UNP. Defence
Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa has filed a law suit against
the Sunday Leader claiming damages for Rs.1 billion for
having carried an article defamatory of him. The pro-UNP
website which carried an allegation against President
Rajapaksa and Gotabhaya Rajapaksa had studiously avoided
making any reference to this case pending in courts.