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President Maithripala Sirisena and his predecessor Mahinda Rajapaksa met last Wednesday to discuss a potential caretaker grand coalition which the two leaders agreed was necessary to pull the country out of the “economic mess” and address other critical issues badly affecting the people.
Published Date: 08/10/2018 (Monday)

  • Mahinda could be Prime Minister replacing Ranil Wickremesinghe
  • Basil Rajapaksa joins the talks
  • Meeting at the residence of S.B. Dissanayake in Battaramulla
  • More talks on the way

President Maithripala Sirisena and his predecessor Mahinda Rajapaksa met last Wednesday to discuss a potential caretaker grand coalition which the two leaders agreed was necessary to pull the country out of the “economic mess” and address other critical issues badly affecting the people.

At the Presidential Suite in Park Lane Hilton, London – President Maithripala Sirisena greets Father S.J. Emmanuel of the Global Tamil Forum (GTF) when they met for breakfast in March 2015. Also in the picture are then Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera and Rehabilitation and Prison Reforms Minister D,M, Swaminathan.

If the upcoming dialogue ends successfully, it will see Mahinda Rajapaksa ensconced as the new Prime Minister, replacing Ranil Wickremesinghe. Of course, there is a long, long way to go. The first round focused mostly on the standpoints of the two sides and what could be the broader parameters in a new arrangement. So far, the talks are showing positive signs.

Though President Sirisena was alone at the meeting, the presence of Basil Rajapaksa, the ideologue behind the former President, has added greater significance. It is not only because he returned early to Colombo from a visit to his home in Los Angeles, but also in the light of him being reported earlier to be opposed to any initiatives by Sirisena. The fact that he has been asked to join in has cleared a hurdle for Sirisena, the leader of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP). Basil Rajapaksa is widely respected for his political acumen and for planning political strategies. At the talks, he articulated what could form the broader role for the Sri Lanka Podu Jana Peramuna (SLPP) in a proposed caretaker grand coalition.

Their party would come as an independent partner. Similarly, others too could be invited to join in, he opined. Those remarks made clear that there would be no reunification of the SLFP though it will see an accord on the important issues to be tackled. Basil Rajapaksa had also said that at the next elections, each prospective constituent of the caretaker grand coalition would be free to contest on its own, both at the next presidential and parliamentary elections.

The talks were held at the residence of former Minister and one of 15 SLFP breakaways, S.B. Dissanayake – No. 1070/2 Denzil Kobbekaduwa Mawatha, Battaramulla. As Sirisena and the two Rajapaksa brothers continued talking, Dissanayake walked in every now and then. He was not engaged in the entirety of the talks. It was just weeks earlier that Rajapaksa berated Dissanayake with some of his Opposition colleagues. It turns out that the former Minister had erroneously blurted out some matters angering Rajapaksa. Things have since been smoothened out and Dissanayake played the broker. This is much the same way he played the same role for weeks on the No-Confidence Motion against Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

The front page lead story in the Sunday Times last week revealed exclusively that Sirisena was set to take some tough political measures, including a possible cabinet re-shuffle. Talks with Rajapaksa came as a high priority. Another was the appointment soon of a new Chief Justice. He also focused attention on what he strongly feels is a worrying law and order situation. He was deeply concerned about the ‘unprofessional conduct’ of the Inspector General of Police Pujith Jayasundera, whom a section of the UNP government is supporting. For reasons unexplained, they want to keep him in office. Sirisena wants to remove him from office and has already earmarked a successor. On both these issues, some ministers have launched a proxy war on Sirisena. More details on them later.

President Sirisena began his dialogue with Rajapaksa with a serious lament. He said that it was “extremely impossible” for him to work with Premier Wickremesinghe. He charged that the Prime Minister was scuttling many of his efforts. He was firmly of the view that he “should go” before the economy crashes and people face even bigger hardships. He had cited many an example. It is widely known that tensions between Sirisena and Wickremesinghe had peaked to a high level in the past many weeks. So much so, at last month’s meeting of the SLFP Central Committee, a sub-committee was named to review the SLFP’s relationship with the UNP in the past three years or more. S.B. Dissanayake told a news conference on Thursday that they had recommended that the SLFP should withdraw from the coalition with the UNP and go for a caretaker Government. Mahinda Rajapaksa was willing for such an arrangement until elections, he said.

Wickremesinghe left early on Tuesday night on a visit to Norway and Britain. In Norway, where he is on a three-day official visit, he is studying optimum computerised warehousing from a leading manufacturing company there. He will also meet Prime Minister Erna Solberg, widely regarded as a friend of Sri Lanka. Not long ago in Colombo, she delivered the Lakshman Kadirgamar memorial lecture and declared she was fascinated by Sri Lanka. In Britain, on October 8, Wickremesinghe will address the Oxford Union on “The Geopolitics of the Indian Ocean Region.”

There is little doubt that within both the SLFP and the SLPP there would be apprehensions about Sirisena’s initiatives with his predecessor Rajapaksa. Quite clearly, it is he who has made the approach and that illustrates the degree to which he has been isolated and placed helpless. He tried to reach out before the Local Government polls as well, and was snubbed by the SLPP. In the results that followed, his SLFP came a poor third. One need hardly say that the main reason is the lack of assertiveness. Some close to him said there were no advisers whilst others insisted that he did not take good advice. Yet, indications that things are shaping up to make it a reality have begun to surface. A main one is the offer by G.L. Peiris, the current de-jure leader of the SLPP, to hand the leadership post over to the de-facto leader Rajapaksa. This is expected to be a reality in the coming weeks. That will give Rajapaksa the official clout to negotiate with strength from his party and to persuade others who may be opposed to linking up with the President. There were also other SLPP seniors who wondered whether Sirisena would renege at the last moment and back out.

Ideologue Basil Rajapaksa, ahead of the President Maithripala–Mahinda meeting, has been consulting key figures in the ‘Joint Opposition’ to ascertain their views.

There were apprehensions in the United National Party too. One angry senior member declared “voters gave Wickremesighe a mandate to be Prime Minister. How could this be changed.”

A ‘Joint Opposition’ member specialising in economics and waxes eloquent on the subject frequently opined that it was time “to do something,” as he called it, “before the country goes into ruin.” He had insisted that “we should act since we cannot wait for one more year. He said that most ministers were not working but were engaged in corrupt activity. More people are going to suffer.”

Another told Basil Rajapaksa that the SLPP should maintain its identity and agree to urgent measures to revive the economy. At least two were strongly critical of Premier Wickremesinghe.  They said large-scale corrupt activity under the UNP should be exposed before the polls. In this regard, at least two prominent UNP ministers have come under close scrutiny by state investigative agencies over multimillion deals. This is on the instructions of President Sirisena.

The President Maithripala-Mahinda talks bring to the fore an all-important question – whether they have the numbers in Parliament for a proposed grand coalition. The handful who are familiar with the dialogue, from both sides, are confident. But then, they were also confident of passing a vote of no-confidence on the Prime Minister a few months ago. One of them said there were UNP parliamentarians, including some ministers, who were supportive. That, they said prior to the no confidence motion as well. However, this could not be independently verified. At present the SLFP has 23 members in the Government, whilst the ‘Joint Opposition’ has 54, besides the 15 breakaway SLFP MPs sitting in the Opposition. That totals 92 MPs, still short of a simple majority of 113, short by a sizeable 21.

Among those to be asked to join the caretaker grand coalition would be the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) and the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) though it is not immediately clear they would accept the offer. In a move that appeared to appease the TNA, Sirisena has asked that lands in the north should be returned to their original owners before December. Significantly, the Rajapaksa-led SLPP did not react to that statement. Without the TNA or the JVP, the caretaker grand coalition will have to count on at least 21 or more UNP – or the UNF (United National Front) MPs, to cross over. The UNF includes the JHU (Jathika Hela Urumaya) and the Muslim parties.

In another move, which may or may not be related to the President Maithripala-Mahinda dialogue, Sirisena’s attention has also been drawn to the appointment of a new Chief Justice. Priyasath Dep, the incumbent, is due to retire next week. The Chief Justice is due to deliver judgments on the SC appeal by Duminda Silva, who was convicted of the murder of Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra, an adviser to the then President Mahinda Rajapaksa in an intra-party turf battle in the Kolonnawa electorate. The deceased was the father of Hirunika Premachandra, now a UNP MP and nursing the Ratmalana electorate. Chief Justice Dep will attend a ceremonial sitting of the Supreme Court on October 11 and thereafter to say farewell the next day.

Tipped to succeed was Attorney General Jayantha Jayasuriya. However, Sirisena has not made a firm decision and is also now seriously considering the next senior-most Supreme Court Judge, Eva Wanasundera. She will reach her retirement age of 65 years in February 2019. She has acted for the Chief Justice when he travelled abroad. The President has been advised that the appointment of Wanasundera will not diminish the chances of Jayasuriya becoming the CJ since he would be eligible even after February 2019.

Conventionally, the next senior-most Supreme Court judge has been appointed CJ upon retirement of the incumbent in the office, but there has been precedence when the Attorney General is brought from the official Bar to the post, the latest being when Sarath Nanda Silva and Mohan Peiris were so appointed. The then President J.R. Jayewardene appointed Neville Samarakoon from the private bar as the Chief Justice and later over-looked the senior-most Justice Rajah Wanasundera and appointed Justice Parinda Ranasinghe in the late 1980s. Before President Sirisena’s departure to New York, Premier Wickremesinghe is learnt to have raised the case of Jayasuriya. He had then replied that he would look into the matter after his return. However, when Wickremesinghe raised issue again, this time before his departure to Norway and Britain, Sirisena declared he had not yet taken a firm decision.  But unlike earlier, Sirisena cannot simply appoint his pick for the post. Once he makes a decision, the President will have to send his nominee’s name to the Constitutional Council which will give its approval, or otherwise. This has brought about a separate development as some of the Council members’ terms have expired, and they have not been replaced so far. The remaining members could still meet to take a decision but the Council would have to have a quorum of five. There are only four now, viz., Speaker Karu Jayasuriya, Premier Wickremesinghe, Opposition Leader Rajavarothayam Sampanthan  and Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe. On the face of it, the weight of the Constitutional Council is in favour of the Prime Minister. Lawyers advising the ‘JO’ say the President could resort to the “law of necessity” if the Council is unable to meet and decide, but that will open another controversy.

Another matter of deep concern for Sirisena was the conduct of Police Chief Pujith Jayasundera. He told Tuesday’s weekly Cabinet meeting that the IGP had badly tarnished the image of the Police and described him “Meya Joker Kenek” or that he is a “Joker.” He said he should not continue to function in that office and noted that people blamed both him and the Premier for the Police Chief’s conduct. Interesting enough, neither Premier Wickremesinghe nor a single cabinet minister raised issue after the President’s unprecedented remarks. There was stoic silence. It was only a day earlier that Wickremesinghe had praised Jayasundera and the Police for lowering crime and maintaining law and order, though he was critical of the CID’s strong-arm tactics at trying to elicit evidence from employees of W.M. Mendis & Company, the liquor firm associated with the Arjun Aloysius family in attempt to implicate him (the Prime Minister) in the Central Bank bond scam.

Additionally Law and Order Minister Ranjith Madduma Bandara held a news conference to praise the virtues of the Police. He believes that the problem of the law and order situation and the crime rate is not as bad as it is said to be. In the backdrop of the President Maithripala-Mahnida talks, the shadow boxing within the “National Unity” Government and the related proxy war has been unleashed.

Though the IGP is appointed by the Constitutional Council in accordance with the Constitution, there is no specific provision for his or her removal. This could be carried out under the Removal of Officers (Procedure) Act no 5 of 2002, a legal source said. For most complaints against such a person, there should be an address of Parliament and supported by a majority of members for the appointment of a Committee of Inquiry. Upon receipt of the adoption of the resolution, the Committee shall be constituted to inquire and report its findings. Thus, the post has been somewhat insulated from the whims and fancies of politicians.

However, there are exceptions too on certain grounds like for example over mental and physical weakness. In such an instance, the Act says, “the President shall take into consideration such evidence whether oral or written, which in the opinion of the President is adequate to support the existence of the grounds referred to…”.  Whether the President’s remark that the IGP was a “joker” is a precursor to exploiting this provision in the law that the officer has some mental weakness remains conjecture.

This is not all. The mounting cost of living, the result of the Sri Lankan rupee’s depreciation against the US dollar and the resultant rise in fuel prices, has been a matter of deep concern for the President. He was not satisfied with the approach of Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera. His Ministry officials had allowed the matter to “drift” weakening the rupee and spiking living costs. On Tuesday night the President summoned a meeting of the National Economic Council (NEC) which he heads and asked a number of stakeholders to take part. They included Samaraweera and academics conversant in economics from universities, representatives of trade chambers, and officials of the Central Bank.

Deputy Governor Nandalal Weerasinghe gave a presentation where it became clear they have released US $ 180 million from external reserves to bolster the rupee. Earlier, Finance Minister Samaraweera had contended that funds from the reserves should not be used. Weerasinghe said the reserves now stood at US$ 7.2 billion. Two private sector businessmen, Harry Jayawardena (Stassen’s and Distilleries) and Mohan Pandithage (Hayleys) spoke about the issues they faced. Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe who took part in the meeting later told a news conference that President Sirisena was closely monitoring the situation since he was concerned over what was going on.

President Sirisena also won Cabinet approval for a programme titled “Sri Lanka Economic Revitalisation – Jobs and growth initiative.” Ministers approved an estimated cost of fifty billion for each year from 2019 to 2021 to “design” the programme which will come under the National Economic Council (NEC).

In his cabinet memorandum, the President has virtually encapsulated the current economic situation. This is what he says: “Sri Lanka’s economic growth has averaged 4.2 per cent per year over the past five years (2013 to 2017) and the Gross Domestic Product is expected to grow at around 4% to 5% per year in the medium term. However, considering the prevailing significant macro-economic and social imbalance including lower growth, fiscal and balance of payments concerns, higher public debt, youth unemployment, higher cost of living, income inequality and unequal regional development, as well as people’s expectations for better living standards, the Sri Lankan economy must grow at a considerable pace than what is expected under current conditions. Some estimate that our economy will need to grow at about 10% for at least a decade in order to make significant progress towards solving economic problems and achieve a more stable future for the citizens.”

He adds that “the overriding objective is job creation since new jobs is the best way for ensuring economic freedom for the people.” 

Another matter that has received President Sirisena’s attention in the past few days is the speech he made to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). He said that the international community “should look at Sri Lanka with a fresh perspective” and asserted that “as an independent country we do not want any foreign power to exert influence on us.” He was alluding to the United States backed resolution on Sri Lanka before the UN Human Rights Council (a resolution co-sponsored by Sri Lanka) in Geneva. “Give us the room to resolve the problems we are facing so that the right of the Sri Lankan people to find solutions to the problem is respected,” Sirisena said. The remarks have raised questions on whether there has been a marked change or an about turn in the coalition policy vis-à-vis the UNHCR.

The move has already angered the London-based Global Tamil Forum (GTF) which has launched a campaign in Western countries. It alleges that the Sri Lanka Government which had given assurances before elections to it has now reneged on its promises. Some countries have already told the GTF that they would raise issue with the government.

It was only on March 15, 2015 – just weeks after he was elected – that President Sirisena met a delegation from the GTF at the Presidential Suite of the Park Lane Hilton in London. At a breakfast of milk rice, seeni sambol, hoppers, string hoppers, fish curry and gravy, he discussed reconciliation and return of land owned in the north by Tamils. Sirisena told the GTF delegation that Sri Lanka had never failed in its obligations to the international community and took commitments made to the UN seriously. Among those present were then Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera and Rehabilitation and Prison Reforms Minister D.M. Swaminathan. The GTF also met Sirisena in Berlin in 2016 and in London in 2018. The picture on this page shows Sirisena greeting GTF’s Father S.J. Emmanuel who is now resident in Jaffna.

President Sirisena leaves on Tuesday on a three-day visit to Seychelles and upon his return to Colombo, he is also expected to visit Poland. His SLFP has not yet heard from its UNP coalition counterparts any idea of what the budget would be. Anxiety is growing over the issue. Other than that, the priority for Sirisena now is a proposed caretaker grand coalition with the Rajapaksa-led SLPP. He will work hard on it when he returns. Success on that front would mean a break from the coalition with the UNP and the collapse of the “National Unity Government”. Three and half years after a UNP-SLFP coalition, the country is at the crossroads again.

Fonseka facing Sirisena’s ire; Sirisena facing Fonseka’s fire

He is known for goose-stepping into many a controversy, saying the right thing in the wrong place or the wrong thing in the right place.

The man who led troops to the military defeat of Tiger guerrillas, now Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka, has no qualms about the lethal verbal volleys he fires. He is as adept as his troops who triggered small arms and heavy weapons to trounce a deadly enemy in a bloody three-decade-long separatist war. This time, however, it was over an issue that is very close to his heart – how the war ended.

Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka

Still his Commander-in-Chief (as a Field Marshal, he serves until death) President, Maithripala Sirisena made a hitherto unknown revelation during a speech to Sri Lankans in New York. “I am the person who is most aware of what happened. The former President (Mahinda Rajapaksa), former Defence Secretary (Gotabaya Rajapaksa) and the former Army Commander (then Lieutenant General Sarath Fonseka) were not in Sri Lanka.

“Most people forget this fact. People don’t know why they were not in the country but I know,” he told a group of businessmen, professionals and students. He then declared, “The government had reports that there would be an attack on Colombo by groups of (guerrillas) who may storm in from Chennai (capital of the southern Tamil Nadu State in India). That is why all had left the country. That is the real story.” That is not all. Sirisena added, “I was not in Colombo but stayed in different parts of the country. That is because they (the guerrillas) would otherwise know where we were staying. This is my experience of the war….”

A detailed fact check revealed that only former President Rajapaksa and the then Army Commander Lt Gen Sarath Fonseka were out of Sri Lanka. Rajapaksa left Colombo on May 14, 2009 with his then Premier Ratnasiri Wickremanayake. They attended the G 11 summit and the World Economic Forum in the Jordanian capital of Amman and returned to Colombo on May 17, 2009. Other compulsions that necessitated their departure cannot be reported for reasons of national security though they do not relate to any specific personal threats to them. During Rajapaksa’s four days of absence, the then Health Minister Maithripala Sirisena, was named the acting Defence Minister. This is in view of his seniority in the party and he was also General Secretary of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP).

Thus Sirisena’s acting role was not two weeks as claimed by him but four days. The then Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka left Colombo for Beijing on May 16. He was back in Colombo on May 19, 2009 when Rajapaksa announced in Parliament that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) had been defeated and the areas it dominated had been liberated. Colonel (Ret) Gotabaya Rajapaksa never left Sri Lanka.

Fonseka in his remarks likened Sirisena to corporals and sergeants. Reacting to Sirisena’s remarks, he told reporters that the end of the war was not a thing that came about “during the last two or three weeks.” That period, he said, “was left to the corporals and sergeants. Therefore, people who think like corporals and sergeants may think that it is during the last two weeks they could perform.” He also asserted that “We did not have an Army which goes into hiding. Even Former President Rajapaksa and Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa did not hide in fear.”

Fonseka added: “…..If he continues to poke his finger into others’ business it will end up being like when the monkey got its tail caught in a wedge. Therefore, in whatever the people who are working in an acting capacity, was it enough time to understand which took place during two years and nine months? Can an acting person change plans of the war? Can you win a war by doing odd things? He should understand that if he at least has a brain. He says that the south Indians will bomb us. I don’t know who gave him that dead rope. He said that he was hiding. That maybe correct. We did not have an Army which went into hiding; we did not have such commanders”.

Uttering those words, coupled together with a few other outbursts in the past, may see the exit of Fonseka from the Cabinet. Sirisena, who promoted him from the rank of a General to Field Marshal, for supporting him at the presidential election in January 2015, wants to remove him from the portfolio. He is now Minister for Regional Development.

Whilst the Constitution stipulates that the President shall, from time to time, “in consultation with the Prime Minister, where he considers such consultation to be necessary, “determine the number of ministers and appoint MPs to be in charge of ministries,” it is silent regarding removal of ministers and only says that “the President may, at any time, change the assignment of subjects of the Cabinet of Ministers…” Sirisena is now seeking legal opinion and studying different options. In all of this, he is spoiling for fight with the UNP.

Another remark by Fonseka that has annoyed the President is public insults he (Fonseka) hurled at the sitting Army Commander, Lt Gen. Mahesh Sananayake. The Army chief has told the President that he had not been able to service some requests made by Fonseka for promotions and transfers within the Army. Those who sought promotions had disciplinary inquiries where misconduct has been proved. Those who were seeking transfers were not entitled to the positions they sought. This had offended Fonseka, the Field Marshal he is. The remarks led to condemnation by senior officers in the military. On an earlier occasion, Fonseka berated Sirisena for not appointing him the Minister of Law and Order. This forced Sirisena not to swear him in until he explained himself, a matter which Fonseka did. Yet, in media reports on the issue, Fonseka claimed he had not apologised to the President.

President Sirisena’s remarks in New York go much deeper than others who have been making factually erroneous statements about winning the war. Here are some of the main reasons;

(1) During former President Rajapaksa’s absence from Sri Lanka for four days, no meetings of the National Security Council (NSC) were held. That was the forum every President used to be hands-on with regard to the conduct of the separatist war or on other matters of national security.

(2) It was Gotabaya Rajapaksa as Defence Secretary who chaired conferences of the armed forces commanders, chief of police and heads of different intelligence agencies. This is where he issued directives, whenever necessary and kept track of the war until its conclusion.

(3) President Sirisena’s remarks did ruffle some feathers in New Delhi’s South Block where the Indian External Affairs Ministry is located. There were murmurs that the suggestion of Tiger guerrillas operating from Indian soil (“Chennai jungles”) to carry out attacks in Colombo or elsewhere seemed to suggest that it was with the acquiescence of the Indian Government. This is particularly so since activities in Tamil Nadu came under close watch of Indian security agencies during the final stages of the separatist war.

A diplomat said on the telephone “we knew the remarks were factually inaccurate and therefore we need not worry too much.” Moreover, the Sri Lankan Navy had placed a naval cordon supplemented on the opposite side by Indian Coast Guard. An Indian frigate was also known to be off the waters of Trincomalee. This was why top rung LTTE leaders including Velupillai Prabhakaran could not escape through any sea route and were forced to meet with their deaths.

Both India and the United States extended valuable assistance to the security forces to militarily defeat the guerrillas. It is the satellite imagery provided by India that helped Air Force to carry out air attacks on LTTE ammunition dumps and other installations. The US provided intelligence on the floating armoury off the waters of Indonesia while the Sri Lanka Navy was credited with destroying it.

(4)  President Sirisena’s remarks come in the backdrop of a meeting of retired armed forces commanders he summoned last month. The purpose was to seek their help to write the “real” history behind the final stages of the war. Would this have included Sirisena’s claims that he fought the war when all other political leaders in power and the army commander fled the country? One need hardly say that task would be re-writing history and does not reflect well on the troops who have made tremendous sacrifices.

The President also told his last meeting with heads of media institutions that retired military officers were writing books promoting themselves and giving their own versions. The fact that such officers could be taken to task by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) was lost on him. Not surprisingly when top MoD bureaucrats are clueless on such issues. Those that were covered by the Official Secrets Act require prior MoD clearance, a standard practice worldwide.

Of course, Sirisena is not the only President to claim that he directed the final stages of the war. In an interview with Sirasa television in February 2013, onetime President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga declared; “Who achieved war victory in Jaffna? Was it Mahinda Rajapaksa? No, it was in my government’s period the war victory was achieved. When we came to power, about 80% of the five northern districts were under the LTTE….. We pushed them to areas like Mullaitivu, Kilinochchi, Puthukudiyiruppu and cornered them. …….”

Even these remarks contained factual inaccuracies. Troops suffered some of the worst setbacks during her tenure. There were also widespread allegations of corruption after she permitted “crisis purchases” – euphemism for leaving aside tender procedures. That created a new generation of millionaires in and outside uniform.

The claims are better explained by the remarks of the charismatic American President the late John F. Kennedy. He said victory has many fathers but defeat is an orphan. In the US, in April 1961, 1,400 Cubans who fled after Fidel Castro took over made an abortive attempt to oust him. They took part in an invasion which floundered. Within 24 hours, they had to surrender.

There was victory when Sri Lankan troops militarily defeated the LTTE. Yet, it is ‘news’ that Sirisena, like the target board, has drawn attention to himself over the alleged human rights violations and war crimes, a charge in an American-backed resolution before the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, The then Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera, an ardent believer of the “John Kerry Doctrine” extended support by co-sponsoring it. Kerry was then then US Secretary of State. What a paradox!! No one still knows whether the co-sponsorship was approved by the Cabinet, the President or the Prime Minister or the minister was acting on his own. He could not be contacted for a response.

 Source: Sunday Times

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