Ossie Abeyagoonesekera: An Appreciation
Posted on November 16th, 2012

David Gladston- former British High Commissioner to Sri Lanka

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ I got to know Ossie when I was British High Commissioner in Sri Lanka, during the dark days of the Second JVP Insurrection in 1988.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ 

His predecessor, Vijaya Kumaratunga, had been assassinated early in the year and it was clear that the threat of a similar fate would hang over whoever succeeded him.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  But once elected Ossie never flinched from the challenge and I came to admire his courage as well as his political skills as he held his party together and maintained it as a credible political force.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ 

The challenges, and the threats, intensified as the year wore on, culminating in the Presidential election at the end of the year.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  I had many conversations with him during that campaign and understood all too well the strain of conducting it in the knowledge that every day might be his last, not least because his party could not afford the protection provided by the UNP and SFLP to their candidates.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  In the circumstances it was never realistic to suppose that he would score heavily in the overall vote, but I recall that he achieved a very respectable vote in the North and East, reflecting the part he played in promoting the devolution of power to the new Provincial Councils. ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ 

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Ossie did not seek political glory but rather felt obliged to fight for what he believed in.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  On the anniversary of his death I am glad to honour the memory of a fearless and devoted public servant and a good friend.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ 

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