The Lankaweb Weekly Editorial



Is Sri Lanka Headed Towards Political Crossroads Through Presidential Risk Taking?

Are these precursors to pre-meditated political misadventure through unmitigated risk taking by Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga as she prepares to cut a deal with the outlawed Tamil Tigers over the Joints Tsunami Mechanism ? So ask many discerning analysts as the Nation seemingly teeters on the brink of political uncertainty given the recent events unfolding in Sri Lanka.

On one hand there are the Government's allies the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) and mostly supportive Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU ) totally in umbrage at the latest Presidential posturing charging that cutting deals with the LTTE terrorists would imperil the Nation and they would consequently rescind their support for her and then there are those within the President's own SLFP who are also in disagreement with her approach to the issue and the circumspect nailbiting which has naturally begun in various political quarters seems to be spreading to the entire Nation.

Latest reports have indicated there has been much internal Government activity particularly through Presidential efforts of some urgency towards convincing her dissenting political allies not scramble plans to share Tsunami Aid with Tamil Tiger rebels.There are also indications through statements made by the JVP and JHU to the media that they would stand firm in their decision to pull out of the Government and end their support for the President's ruling coalition the UPFA which would almost certainly spell disaster for the Government which would then most definitely be toppled with further consequences detrimental to the Nation multi-faceted.

Assertions to all this has been further confirmed as a top Buddhist monk Ven. Omalpe Sobitha Thero, General Secretary of the JHU began a death fast in Kandy the hill capital of Sri Lanka.The nine member Jathika Hela Urumaya consisting of Buddhist Monks elected to parliament have also backed the JVP's opposition to the Joint Mechanism. There was a vast gathering of monks in in their hundreds in protest against the proposed aid sharing deal with the LTTE as the prominent priest reportedly began his fast and there seems every likelihood that others may join him which will not augur well for the Government of Sri lanka which is a predominantly Buddhist Sinhala Nation and would probably present a huge dilemma for the Government already faced with much criticism from various sources over the speculated involvement of the LTTE in the Tsunami Aid Program.

President Chandrika Kumaratunga and her cabinet were reportedly in urgent debate with the the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), to avoid a withdrawal of their parliamentary support which could send the Nation scuttling back to another General Election and something it could ill afford given the circumstances in post Tsunami Sri Lanka!

All the goings on involving the Joint Tsunami mechanism appear to have caused a degree of confusion amongst the donor Nations who appear unsure of any positive direction to approportion Sri Lankan Governmental policy relative to the distribution of Aid as in the overall scheme of things should there be a collapse of the Ruling UPFA Coalition there may not be an official source with legitimate authority entrustable with the task and the ensuing mayhem somewhat predictable.The Government therefore has to be deemed unwise and injudicious should it anger its coalition partners over the Joint Mechanism in its present format and probably better off restructuring it to avoid providing any platforms for the LTTE towards their own agenda which the JVP and JHU are unequivocally opposed to and along with them many other areas of political and national recognition!

While the United States and India have backed the current Joint Mechanism presented by the President to distribute $3.0 billion in international tsunami aid on all sides of Sri Lanka's ethnic communities it is hoped, the US have not shown a conflict of interest about their stance involving the LTTE whom they have proscribed as dangerous terrorists. However somewhat in haste and an intent to please the wrong sources perhaps, former US President Bill Clinton involved in the Tsunami Aid program seems to have inadvertently contradicted US Government policy towards non- recognition of the Tamil Tigers in having verbally committed that that they should be incorporated into the Joint Mechanism notwithstanding their terrorist image it has to be naturally assumed! In so doing he has also drawn the the wrath of many areas of political and national minded dissent which seem to have greater faith in the US proscription of the LTTE as the deciding factor relative to US policy regardless of the Clinton euphemism!

India on the other hand has taken a somewhat diversified approach to the Sri Lankan President's recently concluded visit on related matters to New Delhi and in response to her dialogue the Indian Authorities have called for All Tamil parties in Sri Lanka to be involved with the Joint Mechanism much to the chagrin of the LTTE who misrepresent themselves as the overall custodians of Tamils in Sri Lanka which has been categorically denied and contradicted by many within the Tamil community. India is in all probabilities has also indicating a reluctance towards recognizing the LTTE on any legitimate platform as they continue to seek the arrest and extradition of LTTE leader Velupillai Pirapaharan charged with the assassination of their much loved leader Rajive Gandhi an issue nonetheless simmering currently on the backburner.It must be reiterated therefore that if the President eventually ratifies the joint mechanism and the JVP withdraws support for the Government having already indicated their intentions to this effect Sri Lanka would undoubtedly be thrown into turmoil and political uncertainty.

The JVP have on many occassions recently threatened to withdraw from the UPFA Government of President Chandrika Kumaratunge over the Joint Tsunami mechanism involving LTTE on the grounds that they are a group of fascist minded terrorists who are legitimately, constitutionally and politically incorrect for Sri Lanka and have no right to their demands which point distinctly towards secession and their own survival .The JVP appear more than likely to stick to their guns knowing their reputation to be stoic and resolute albeit open to negotiation as some analysts seem to think but a negotiation far removed from the President's choice towards involving the terrorists it can be said with much confidence! There is a new alternative formulated by a team of experts, code named DART which may be unravelled as a more feasible solution towards distributing Tsunami Aid and worth considering towards posterity and the political stability of Sri Lanka and no disruptions to the parliamentary process as it appears to be JVP and JHU friendly.

The President's choice consequently could be unenviable in having to answer to the citizens of Sri Lanka who voted her party and allies into office as an alternative to the previous regime of the seemingly LTTE friendly United National Front of Ranil Wickremasinghe ( UNF ) who virtually betrayed the Nation into the hands of its enemies and appears to have ended up heading much in the same direction as argued by many, unless she has some unexpected conjuring act which would otherwise portray her intentions as resolute towards Nation preservation, maintaining its Sovereignity and Territorial integrity some of which the tigers already seem to have annexed by their own definition, false representation and imagined authority which they appear to have further expectations of augmenting with a little help from Presidential misadventure and misjudgement !

It seems but a matter of time before the realities of what's in store for Sri Lanka seemingly currently headed towards political crossroads are revealed and the Nation awaits in bated breath !



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