The UN Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) has deferred until September of this year to table a report concerning Sri Lanka’s alleged human rights violations at the closing stages of its war against LTTE terrorists in May 2009 where scores of civilians were also killed.
The report was originally to be tabled at Geneva next month at the UN’s HR sessions. The delay from Sri Lanka’s perspective is welcome in both a political and an economic sense.
Political, because the new government, ushered in after President Maithripala Sirisena’s polls win a little over a month ago, is expected to face a general election in only another four months’ time in June.
In the event that report was tabled as scheduled next month, it may have been difficult for the right leaning UNP and its leader Ranil Wickremesinghe, the Premier of the new government, to have faced that poll successfully. It were the UNP votes, by and large Sri Lanka’s biggest political party, which ensured SLFPer Sirisena’s win at last month’s presidential poll, over his former colleague and leader Mahinda Rajapaksa.
Accountability in respect of alleged war crimes is weighed against the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL), and not for all practical purposes against the LTTE, a universally recognized terrorist outfit. It’s against alleged state terrorism during the closing stages of the war that the UN resolution, ipso facto against GoSL, is directed at.
The promoters of this, allegedly anti-GoSL resolution are led by the USA and the rest of the West, including countries aligned with the West. The UNP has been traditionally identified as being close to the West and of its policies, since its founding 69 years ago in 1946, which is two years before independence.
A UN Resolution against Sri Lanka, particularly in the context of a general election looming round the corner in the island and with 75% of Sri Lanka’s population being Sinhalese, of whom 70% are Sinhala Buddhists, could ricochet against the UNP.
Particularly in the context that Rajapaksa is seeking to revive his flagging political fortunes at an election rally to be held at Nugegoda today (Wednesday, 18 February), though his party, the SLFP, Sri Lanka’s second largest political party had said that it will boycott the rally.
Nevertheless, Rajapaksa, including his party the SLFP, founded 64 years ago, in 1951, and has always been banking on the support of the Sinhala Buddhist vote. Such a UN condemnation may have hurt the UNP badly at that election due in another four months’ time.
It is said that politics makes strange bedfellows. Who knows, in the event Rajapaksa contests that June general elections under a new symbol and garners a couple of seats, the SLFP, in the event it wants to form a government, may even seek a coalition with Rajapaksa, if that coalition may ensure that they have the required 113 seats in the 225-seat Parliament to ensure they have that required simple majority.
In politics there are no permanent friends, or enemies, only permanent interests. A case in point is last month’s presidential poll, where the UNP and certain key sections of the SLFP among other parties came together with the sole intent and purpose of defeating Rajapaksa.
One of the key reasons that led to the defeat of the UNP/UNF coalition government led by Wickremesinghe at the April 2004 general elections was the card touted by the JVP, which had aligned itself with the then PA coalition headed by President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, that the UNP/UNF had a plan to divide the country by its 2002 ceasefire agreement with the Tamil LTTE terrorist unit, led by its notorious leader Velupillai Prabhakaran.
Wickremesinghe’s Government, together with his Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera, strategically delaying the release of the seemingly adverse UN report against our country till after the general elections are over is a clever if not tactical ploy, the tacit role played by India in this regard cannot be ignored.
From an economic perspective, Sri Lanka is going through an unstable period, a knock on effect due to the political instability beleaguering the country till the June elections are held and its results known.
Till then, the island will be starved of much needed foreign investments, that is foreign direct investments and investments in both the government securities market (Treasury Bonds and Bills) as well as in the stock market.
As a result, currently there is depreciating pressure on the rupee, where such a fall is being prevented by the authorities by moral suasion and by administratively capping the value of the rupee, much like what prevailed before Sri Lanka opened up its economy in 1977.
Therefore, a purported anti-Sri Lanka resolution tabled by the UN next month would have made matters that much worse for Sri Lanka, by seeing a flight of foreign funds due to the belief by those investors that would be a harbinger of worse things to come, thereby causing greater depreciating pressure on the rupee, therewith, with grave consequences to the economy.