CBK fishing in troubled waters?
Posted on October 21st, 2019

By Gagani Weerakoon Courtesy Ceylon Today

The rift between two groups of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) became quite evident with former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga (CBK) and Party’s General Secretary Dayasiri Jayasekara taking to social media to criticise each other. While the former accused Jayasekara of trying to uprooting the Party from its soil, the latter accused Kumaratunga of having underhand deals with the UNP to destroy the alliance between the SLFP and the SLPP merely based on personal grudges.

It is no secret to those who know a little bit of history that Jayasekara initially left the SLFP to join the UNP due to continuous ill-treatment by Kumaratunga in late 1990s and early 2000.

Incidentally, Kumaratunga also exchanged several letters criticising Prof. Rohana Lakshman Piyadasa when he served for a short period as the Party’s General Secretary.

It is in the midst of this that a group of artistes from Nuwara Eliya visited the SLFP Headquarters last week to meet Prof. Piyadasa who is now the Chairman of SLFP, and Jayasekara to honour them by adorning them with the tradition shawl.  
CBK fishing in troubled waters

Former President Kumaratunga played a vital role from behind the curtains in the major political change that happened on 8 January 2015. It is no secret that she went to lengths to make Maithripala Sirisena the common candidate of the Opposition. Five years later, on the brink of another pivotal Presidential Election, she returned to the country from abroad.

She opposed the SLFP aligning with the SLPP. Even before coming to Sri Lanka, she expressed her disapproval of the MoU between SLFP and SLPP. From England, Kumaratunga contacted SLFP Parliamentarians and electoral organisers and instructed them to not go into an alliance with SLPP. Without stopping there, she is said to have even exchanged opinions with Minister Mangala Samaraweera.

She then pioneered the forming of the Organisation to Protect the SLFP. It was after this she got into a heated argument on WhatsApp with SLFP General Secretary Jayasekara, courtesy the differences in their political stances. 

 Kumaratunga didn’t hesitate to make the conversation she had with Dayasiri on the popular social media platform public. In response, Jayasekara did the same which angered the former President even more. ‘Stop going into agreements with Rajapaksas’, CBK has messaged Dayasiri and continued to blame Mahinda Rajapaksa. ‘Madam Chandrika harbours such hatred towards Rajapaksas and it is the only issue she has,’ Jayasekara has replied. 

Without stopping at exchanging heated opinions on social media, the duo even wrote letters to each other. In response to one such letter Jayasekara responded to CBK rather strongly.

CBK tried to make some Parliamentarians join the Organisation to Protect the SLFP and then declare their support to National Democratic Front candidate Sajith Premadasa but her intentions went wide off the mark. According to Jayasekara, this was because only the members ousted by SLFP are representing the Organisation to Protect the SLFP.

Yasodara to enter politics

Meanwhile, a dinner has been organised for some of the closest journalists of CBK. “I’m so disappointed. Even though I’m the advisor of the party I have no say in what is happening in SLFP. How hard our parents worked to make this Party progress. I say we must save SLFP from Rajapaksas. I have an idea to bring my daughter Yasodara into politics and for that, I need your support,” CBK requested the journalists.

Prasanna’s solution to stop booing

The second rally of SLPP was scheduled to be held in Kadawatha last 13. As SLFP members taking to the stage didn’t sit that well with the SLPP members and they didn’t hide it, the organisers were faced with rather a tough time when organising the rally. This first happened during the first SLPP rally in Anuradhapura and even the higher-ups of SLPP talked about it.

 As the leader of Gampaha District Prasanna was given the responsibility of organising the second rally and he was in the strong opinion that such booing should not happen in a stage of a rally he organises. To ensure everything goes smoothly, he made phone calls to all the organisers of the seats, Mahara, Wattala, Dompe, Kelaniya, Biyagama, and Gampaha. 

Prasanna stressed that the rally should go without any incident and especially, the unpleasant incidents that happened in Anuradhapura should not be repeated. He also instructed the seat organisers to make sure no SLFP member coming to the rally should be mistreated or booed.

A day prior to the second SLPP rally, a special meeting of Gampaha District UPFA Parliamentarians took place under the patronage of Basil Rajapaksa. Basil too brought out the incidents of SLFP members getting booed in Anuradhapura. “Incidents that happened in Anuradhapura should not be repeated. We should make sure to avoid such incidents,” Basil said. 

“I have already taken measures to ensure this. Gampaha District used to be called as an SLFP fortress but now, it has become an SLPP fortress. Therefore, I have paid special attention to makes sure what happened in Anuradhapura shouldn’t be repeated in Kadawatha,” Prasanna stressed.

“That’s good Prasanna,” Basil said. Lasantha Alagiyawanna said that he will be attending the SLPP rally in Kadawatha. “Please do, I will try my best to control the situation,” Prasanna assured.

Special guests at JO meeting

A special meeting of JO Party Leaders took place at Mahinda Rajapaksa’s official residence. Apart from JO party leaders it was unique to see Dayasiri Jayasekara and Mahinda Amaraweera among the attendees representing SLFP. “Today, Dayasiri and Amaraweera too have come here representing SLFP.

 We warmly welcome the SLFPers who have joined us in ensuring Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s victory. I should emphasise the importance of treating everyone who has joined us equally and with respect. Prasanna did a nice job in Gampaha. If leaders of other districts follow Prasanna, these types of incidents would not happen,” Mahinda opined.

“True, now that we have joined hands to win, we shouldn’t make these types of incidents hamper our progress,” Amaraweera said.
“Not only in Gampaha, similar kind of incidents, have occurred in other areas as well. These incidents discourage our supporters,” Dayasiri said.

“We will look into it. All the party leaders will act vigilantly. Apart from that, district leaders are also instructed to inform supporters,” Mahinda assured.
“These incidents should not be taken lightly. Maybe the ones who create these types of incidents could well be of some other party with the aim of breaking the trust and unity we have built. It is very easy to influence people and boo when there are thousands gathered. We should pay our attention to this possibility too,” Wimal opined and Mahinda agreed. Then the gathering discussed the MoU to be signed between Gotabaya Rajapaksa and the SLFP.

After the JO party leaders meeting, Prasanna, Rohitha, Keheliya, Wimal and some others were having a chat with Mahinda about the booing of SLFP members. “We have reasons to believe that there is a former lady leader behind all this. It is done in the hopes of getting SLFPers to vote against SLPP in the coming election,” Wimal said.

“Whatever said and done, this should be stopped immediately before it becomes a habit. Those who have joined us to support our victory should not be mistreated,” Mahinda said.

“Some can’t stand SLFP and SLPP joining hands. Team Sajith was looking forward to get the support of whole SLFP or at least a part of it but it didn’t work out. Now they have gone mad in the face of definite loss,” Prasanna said.

Sajith addresses, Ranil coordinates

UNP’s election campaign is now reaching a pivotal height courtesy, the mutual understanding candidate Sajith Premadasa and UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe came into and the encouragement of party leaders. Premadasa, Wickremesinghe and other leaders of the party meet at Temple Trees almost every morning.

 Sajith usually attends three or four big rallies a day and they all are co-ordinated by the Prime Minister. Last Wednesday after a discussion with Sajith and other leaders of the party, the Prime Minister was ready to go to the North for a number of development and political projects. He didn’t forget to talk to the ministers and parliamentarians, as well as the Media before he went. “We always lose Elpitiya but not putting enough enthusiasm into the election despite being the party in power is a shortcoming,” Kiriella said.

“If the election was in Negombo, Colombo, Kandy or Nuwara Eliya instead of Elpitiya, wouldn’t we have won by a landslide?” Chaminda Wijesiri argued which was agreed by all.  

    Mangala wants things clarified

SLPP Candidate Rajapaksa at a much talked about press conference on Tuesday (15) said that the Tamil people have “more important issues” and that the country needs to “move forward”.
Minister of Finance Mangala Samaraweera, following this, took it upon himself to set the record straight as it was he as former Minister of Foreign Affairs who was directly involved in Sri Lanka’s dealings with the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) starting in 2015.

He went on to detail the commitments made to the Council by the Government of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, many of which he said were ignored.
Excerpts of Minister Samaraweera’s statement:
On 26 May 2009, President Mahinda Rajapaksa and the Secretary-General of the United Nations made a Joint Statement which said:

“Sri Lanka reiterated its strongest commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights, in keeping with international human rights standards and Sri Lanka’s international obligations. The Secretary General underlined the importance of an accountability process for addressing violations of international humanitarian and human rights law. The Government will take measures to address those grievances.”

Further, on 27 May 2009, the Government of Sri Lanka proposed a Resolution on its own in the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva titled ‘Assistance to Sri Lanka in the promotion and protection of human rights’ which was adopted by a vote.
However, the Government failed to address the grievances of citizens of all communities in our country as undertaken in May 2009. The Government also failed to restore the honour of our security forces and Police, by investigating allegations in terms of the due process of the law so that action is taken against those who have committed crimes, and others do not have to suffer in disgrace for years to come.

Non-implementation of recommendations of the Presidential Commissions appointed by President Mahinda Rajapaksa resulted in the erosion of trust and confidence resulting in a series of resolutions in the Human Rights Council on Promoting Reconciliation, Accountability and Human Rights in Sri Lanka in 2012, 2013 and 2014.

Although Sri Lanka refused to participate in a dialogue with the co-sponsors and disassociated itself from these resolutions, they were adopted irrespective of Sri Lanka’s disassociation, and by 2014, the Council had set up an investigation on Sri Lanka called the OHCHR Investigation on Sri Lanka (OISL). This was the first-ever international investigation on a human rights situation in our country.

By December 2014, Sri Lanka had become isolated on the international stage. Our security forces were deprived of peacekeeping opportunities and training opportunities in the developed countries of the world, naval ship visits from the developed countries of the world had ceased and so had joint exercises, EU GSP+ facility had been withdrawn, there was a ban on fish exports from Sri Lanka to the EU, IMF and World Bank had stopped lending to Sri Lanka, the economy was burdened by debt taken at commercial rates for vanity projects, the judiciary was in tatters with a weakened rule of law regime and the impeachment of the Chief Justice, investor confidence was at an all time low, and Sri Lanka’s stature on the international stage had eroded, and so had confidence, credibility and trust.  

The Report of the OHCHR Investigation on Sri Lanka was due in March 2015, and further strictures including targeted measures on individuals were expected following the release of the Report.  

It was in this backdrop that the Government, following the Presidential Election on 8 January 2015, based on the mandate received from the voters to implement the 100 Day Programme, presented its own proposals and co-sponsored Resolution 30/1 to regain and reassert Sri Lanka’s sovereign right to solve its own problems locally, so that space for any further international action or strictures would not be opened. 

This was the path to establish durable peace and reconciliation in our country, restore Sri Lanka’s dignity on the international stage as a State that takes responsibility to address the problems of all sections of its own citizens, renew Sri Lanka’s engagement with the international community, rebuild eroded trust and confidence, restore the dignity of our security forces, Police and judiciary, and usher in the sustained stability required for investor confidence and durable prosperity for all our citizens.

It is as a result of this Resolution (30/1) that prospects for international action initiated through Resolution 25/1 of March 2014 and the OISL (OHCHR Investigation on Sri Lanka) that was adopted during President Rajapaksa’s regime was effectively halted. It is important to remind everyone that it is only if we as a responsible and sovereign nation fail to act that we place our citizens in grave peril by allowing space for others to step in, and international action, as well as universal jurisdiction to apply.

 By Gagani Weerakoon 02:00 AM Oct 20 2019   

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