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Two potential dictators in Sri Lanka’s presidential election

[Press Release, Saturday, 5 December 2009 15:52 No Comment]

By Satheesan Kumaaran

Following the victory over the LTTE in May 2009, the hands of the Sri Lankan military came up to claim an Himalayan victory over a militant resistance movement who unlike other global freedom movements, possessed conventional armed forces like army, navy, and air force. In addition, they were having the ‘Black Tigers,’ who embraced the bombs in their bodies, take the lives of hundreds, in a single attack. Now, after the defeat of the LTTE, the Sri Lankan executive president, Mahinda Rajapaksa, who celebrated the victory claiming to be the architect behind it has now pushed down the army general, who led the war in the field against the LTTE, which is not an unusual trait in Rajapaksa. Political events are taking a new shape now when Rajapaksa has called for a presidential election, announced to be held on January 26, 2010.

The retired general, Sarath Fonseka, had been dragged down by the Sri Lankan President, Mahinda Rajapaksa, and his brothers, Gothabaya Rajapaksa and Basil Rajapaksa, on several occasions. Further, adding fuel to the feud between Fonseka and Rajapaksa, many disparaging statements were made interspersed with heated arguments and brickbats thrown at each other in public statements.

Mahinda Rajapaksa even went on to the extent of demanding Fonseka to step down from all his military duties. Rajapaksa tipped off Fonseka to the U.S. home security officials, while Fonseka, a green card holder, along with his wife, was visiting his daughters in the U.S last month with the view of getting him taken to task for the genocidal crimes against the Tamils during the final phase of the war against the LTTE However, Fonseka, with the support and influence of the United National Party (UNP), a principal opposition party managed to get away from any investigations demanded by the U.S. officials.

Upon his arrival to Colombo, the opposition parties, and the sympathizers of Fonseka, hailed Fonseka as the hero of the Sinhala race. He was portrayed as the hero who vanquished the LTTE, instead of giving credit to Mahinda Rajapaksa. Rajapaksa and his brothers were so scared of the growing popularity of Fonseka, they sought Indian help to keep Fonseka out of the game.

India helps Rajapaksa

After the call for help from Rajapaksa and his brothers, New Delhi is all out to help Rajapaksa to neutralise the foothold and influence that China has gained in Sri Lanka. New Delhi was even prepared to leak the story that the Sri Lankan military was planning a coup, after the victory over the LTTE.

They further induced the media to publish stories that the Indian armed soldiers were put on high alert, in the southern Indian State, in case there were any military coup like in Pakistan. Leaving aside those who are the perpetrators, inducing military coups in Pakistan, and other countries, it is no other than the so-called democratic countries making the cause for the coup.

India maintained that Sri Lanka would go into a military coup and that they were ready to extending their hand to restore democracy. This is actually a myth, and it was created just in the same way it was created to weaken the struggle for Tamil’s self determination, led by the LTTE. The Indian establishment, especially the RAW, had created the myth that the greater autonomy for Eelam Tamils meant greater chances of the Tamil Nadu aggrandising areas, like the North-East of Sri Lanka, the rest of the southern Indian State, Mauritius, Maldives, Madagascar, etc. This is a useless argument and has no validity at all.

However, this benefited India greatly. As it was assessed in the 1980s, it managed to weaken the Eelam struggle. They did not want the LTTE leader, Velupillai Pirapaharan, to lead Eelam’s struggle because they thought that Pirapaharan was not stubborn or illiterate in politics, during early 1980s. When he and his cadres were receiving military support from India, he gave the impression of being an innocent protégé, and obeyed all instructions. India then realized that Pirapaharan would be the best candidate to keep Sri Lanka in check. When Pirapaharan began to make decisions without the consultation of India, and began to act on his own will, India tried to maintain a distance from him, and declared him India’s enemy. Just to weaken the LTTE under his leadership, India sent the armed forces to Eelam during JR Jayewardene’s presidency, leading to Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination, for which Pirapaharan was blamed. Eventually, in May 2009, with the defeat of the LTTE, India achieved what it had wanted all the time.

As a regional superpower, India maintains it’s giant big brother status with the eight countries of south Asia. The foreign policy, formulated with the help of the RAW, makes things far worse for sufferings of the peoples of her neighbours, rather than alleviate them. Now, India is helping Rajapaksa, but will change her stand anytime in support of Fonseka. A clear example is that New Delhi has earlier called upon Fonseka to make a visit to India and Fonseka, too, made a surprise visit to India to hold talks with Indian leaders. Indeed, Indian leaders and the RAW will enter into closed-door agreements with conditional offers. If India supports Fonseka in the future, Fonseka should not bend against Indian interest by supporting countries, like China and Pakistan. The recent visit by Fonseka to India shows that India will not be a mute spectator in dealing with Sri Lanka, and India, especially, would not tolerate anyone who may have the chance to win the presidential post, so India will definitely accept their own interests through proposals to the presidential candidates, and when these candidates provide sufficient promises to India, then the Indian intelligence wing will formulate and implement plans to bring the candidate to the forefront as a victor. So, the question is whether Rajapaksa or Fonseka will win the hearts and minds of New Delhi, which will definitely help that person to win the elections and be able to become Sri Lanka’s next executive President.

War between to be dictators begins

As the LTTE fighters have silenced their guns as promised to the world in May 2009, the war between the Sri Lankan executive president and the army general has reached a critical stage. Political events are changing in Sri Lanka. As the leading two candidates for Presidency, Mahinda Rajapaksa and Sarath Fonseka, both of whom are responsible for the mass murders of tens of thousands of Eelam Tamils, in addition to unaccountable human rights abuses for which the international community keeps on demanding to be brought to trial, are now facing real war with each other.

Rajapaksa receives support from former Tamil militaries, such as PLOTE, TMVP and EPDP. Sarath Fonseka receives support from the main opposition party, UNP, and the ruling ally, JVP, and many other Sinhala chauvinist parties. On the other hand, Tamil democratic parties, too, are on the move to form a common candidate for the Tamils to contest the presidential elections. However, it is unlikely that they will attain such votes to become President, which is a god-gifted post only for the Sinhala community, and not a single Tamil has been able to hold the position of either the President, or a Prime Minister, since the country gained independence from Britain, in 1948.

So, it is likely that any one of the two potential dictators, and the perpetrators of war crimes, will win the presidential seat. It is obvious that they will fight hard in the days and weeks to come, as both have the greater power to exercise, and even they would not mind using violent means to counter each other.

After declaring to contest for the presidential post, Fonseka held his first press meeting in Colombo, on November 29. With a greater participation of press, he declared, “we defeated the LTTE in the war not to hand over the country to a dictator. One family is thriving in the aftermath of military victory over the LTTE.”He further said: “I am here to clean up the garbage and I know my hands will get directly when I do that but I am willing to face all the mud-slinging bravery…The military personnel in uniform are being used in the most unethical manner to sling mud at me. This is unprecedented and unethical.”

The threats, bitter statements, and arguments between the two perpetrators of the war against humanity will definitely be a sign of a great war between two powerful people, and obviously someone will benefit out of it in the end. Let’s pray for the Tamils to have a hope that the justice will triumph in the end. But, they need to exercise their democratic practices until they receive justice. The presidential election, to be held on January 2010, is a model for a country which is celebrating victory over the blood of over 30,000 Tamils within matters of days or weeks. Even the ghost would come down to punish the perpetrators, but some “civilized” societies remain helping the ones who violate human norms, and one day they will feel ashamed for their acts. Let’s hope that the war between Fonseka and Rajapaka eventually leads to the formation of Tamil Eelam.

(The author can be reached at e-mail: satheesan_kumaaran@yahoo.com)

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