President in the UN vs Wigneswaran in the North

by Easwaran Rutnam

While the government is doing all it can to set a good example to society and the Opposition, there are a few thorns among its roses it is being forced to deal with, sometimes with much embarrassment.

One such ‘thorn’, at least according to some Sri Lanka Freedom Party members in the government, is Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka.

The United National Party member has been very outspoken in Parliament these days and he does not hide the vengeance he has towards the former regime, especially former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his brothers.

In Parliament last week Fonseka went out hard on the Joint Opposition, accusing them of being part of a corrupt regime.

The former Army Commander took offence to the verbal abuse he was facing from the opposition during his speech and at times even used military terms like the word ‘enemy’ when he hit back.

The opposition at one point asked who killed the founding Editor of The Sunday Leader Lasantha Wickrematunge and Fonseka named a former government official as being involved.

His response drew stronger reaction from the opposition but he continued to make allegations against Rajapaksa and his brothers and some members of the government as well.

 

Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka

Watch your words

The opposition raised objections to the names of some relatives of Mahinda Rajapaksa being named by Fonseka in his allegations, even when some matters were before court, and Deputy Speaker Thilanga Sumathipala ordered that some of the allegations be expunged from the Hansard.

Opposition Parliamentarian Wimal Weerawansa, at one point, reminded Fonseka that Parliament was not the battle field of the military.

The next day Speaker Karu Jayasuriya warned Parliamentarians over their conduct and against making allegations on individuals in Parliament.

The Speaker said that if such behavior continues in future he will be compelled to take stern action.

Fonseka has been on a collision course with the former regime ever since he was stripped of his medals and jailed months after he led the army to win the war against the LTTE.

Fonseka’s medals, civic rights and General title were reinstated by the current government and he was also made Field Marshal.

In June this year Fonseka joined the United National Party and was made Kelaniya chief organiser of the party.

The former army commander contested the last Parliamentary election but failed to secure enough votes to enter Parliament.

However in February this year Fonseka, who was earlier the leader of the Democratic Party, was given a vacant seat in Parliament.

Since entering Parliament Fonseka has used most of his time to hit out at the Rajapaksas and this has not been welcomed by open arms by those in the cohabitation government who are keen to establish a ‘new political culture’ in the country following the fall of the former regime.

 

Mahinda’s comeback faces minor setback

Meanwhile former President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s attempt to form a new political party faced a minor setback last week with the Department of Elections saying a new political party cannot be registered at this moment.

Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya said new political parties cannot be registered at this moment since elections have been declared in the Pudukuduirippu and Maritimepattu Pradaeshiya Sabha divisions.

Deshapriya said this to a group of former and current parliamentarians who met him and discussed the barricades in place to register a new political party.

Deshapriya said that the major barricade is that since elections have been declared in the Pudukuduirippu and Maritimepattu Pradaeshiya Sabha divisions a new political party cannot be registered.

Among those who attended the discussion were former Ministers Basil Rajapaksa, G. L. Peiris and Parliamentarian Udaya Gammanpila.

Deshapriya said that a new political party can register only when the Department of Elections calls for applications.

However he said applications cannot be called for now since elections have been declared in Pudukuduirippu and Maritimepattu.

Asked by reporters after the meeting if the Joint Opposition is recognised by the Department of Elections, Deshapriya said that the Joint Opposition is not listed with the Department of Elections.

 

President in the UN vs Wigneswaran in the North

While all this was taking place, President Maithripala Sirisena was in New York for the UN General Assembly.

On the sidelines of the Assembly the President held discussions with world leaders and he was asked of the progress on the reconciliation issue.

The President told US Secretary of State John Kerry that the Government is facing a lot of challenges from the destabilizing forces in the North as well as the South, who want to deter the reconciliation process.

“For example, some of the small minority of the people in the North refused to go back to their lands due to pressure from the extremist groups”, the President’s office quoted Sirisena as saying.

“Similarly, some Southern groups are engaged in decrying the reconciliation process. But the unity government is determined to implement the intended programs despite such oppositions”, he said.

Defying a Tamil National Alliance (TNA) stand, Northern Province Chief Minister C. V. Wigneswaran on Thursday called on Tamils in the North to support a mass rally which was set to take place yesterday.

The protest was against what some claim is the systematic settlement of Sinhalese people in the Tamil dominated region and the erection of Buddhist statues in an area devoid of Buddhist devotees.

President Sirisena, meanwhile, clarified in New York that although there are differences among the policies of the unity Government, they have agreed upon a broad policy formula and continue to implement it.

“Therefore, strengthening the stability of the Government remains uncompromised as it is committed to fulfilling aspirations of the people who elected this government on January 08, 2015”, he said.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also met the President for talks. They followed up on their discussions on transitional justice, reconciliation and constitutional reform earlier this month during the Secretary-General’s visit to Sri Lanka.

 

… And in Geneva

Meanwhile in Geneva an NGO briefing took place on the sidelines of the 33rd Session of the Human Rights Council. This was organised by the Tamil Centre for Human Rights – TCHR in France, in solidarity with the ECOSOC NGO Pasumai Thayyagam (Green Motherland) which is based in Tamil Nadu, India.

The subject of this briefing was ‘Human Rights in Sri Lanka’ with a focus on the last UN HRC resolution. The briefing was chaired by the representative of the RADDHO, Biro Diawara. The speakers were – Mrs. Deirdre McConnell, researcher and a human rights defender from United Kingdom and S. V. Kirubaharan, the General Secretary of the Tamil Centre for Human Rights in France.

The speakers were focusing on the lack of initiative on implementation of the last resolution on Sri Lanka.

When speaking, Deidre McConnell explained about the pattern of genocide of the Tamils in Sri Lanka and the lack of initiative on the part of the government as well as some powerful countries to find justice for the victims. When Kirubaharan spoke, he indicated that whether there is a new or old regime in Sri Lanka, their pattern and methodology may be different, but it is always a question of cover-up, producing no justice for victims.

The meeting was well attended by members of civil society of the 33rd Session and diplomats, including Sri Lankan government representatives.

Dr. Ramadas of Tamil Nadu is the founder of Pasumai Thayyagam (Green Motherland).

Even though Mrs. Sadhya Eknaligoda, wife of the disappeared cartoonist and journalist and Mrs. Aurlvathana S. Suntharajah, wife of a disappeared human rights defender from Sri Lanka were scheduled to speak in that meeting, they could not attend as they had an appointment with UN Officials.