by Dr. Victor Rajakulendran
An open letter to Sri Lankan President Chandrika Bandaranayake Kumarathunga
Chandrika Bandaranayake Kumarathunga
President of Sri Lanka
Colombo Sri Lanka
I have been watching closely you and your unusual, unacceptable actions during the last few days, living far away from you in this Southern Continent of Australia but linked very closely by heart and mind to your beloved country, Sri Lanka. I have written to you openly several times, but under completely different circumstances. I thought if I do not write to you now and let you and the International community (IC) know some of the hidden truths that have gotten buried under the rubble you have created during the past few days, I would be failing in my duty to humanity.
Your Excellency, you prorogued parliament for two weeks and took over the responsibilities of 3 important ministers of your rival Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe’s (RW) government. You tried to re-impose the emergency regulations you used to govern the country from 1994-2001. Due to the pressure from the International community, you retracted this action and are now trying to bluff that you did not have that intention but were getting prepared in case the situation warranted that. But the truth is that, even if you had imposed the emergency regulations, you would have had to depend on RW’s government for the regulations to be approved by parliament. Otherwise the emergency would have lapsed after 10 days from the day you proclaimed it.
Your Excellency, you have justified all these actions that you have done to safeguard the security, territorial integrity and sovereignty of the country. Anyone would appreciate your actions if there were threats to all those, as you have claimed. If there were such threats, why you did not discuss these things face to face with the Prime Minister, warn him and then do what you have done? Why did you initiate all your actions while the Prime Minister was on an important mission in Washington to meet with President Bush?
Your Excellency, can you deny that you are only interested in holding on to power at any cost? Can you deny that if the constitution of the country is not changed in the next few months to get rid of the Executive Presidency, if you want to stay in politics, the chances are there for you to remain only as an ordinary Member of Parliament? Can you deny that the only way to change the constitution now is to form a national government involving all the parties represented in parliament?
Your Excellency, the International community (IC) may not be aware of this, but we Sri Lankans all know that, whether it is RW or you, you all use the process of finding a solution to the ethnic problem as a means to hang on to power. In that respect, RW's political future depends on the success of the current peace process and your political future depends on scuttling the peace process and installing a new or amended constitution that gives the executive power to a Prime Minister and not to the President. This is partly because you cannot contest for the Presidency next time, which office is up for grabs in just over 12 months time. RW is pushing forward the peace process because he wants to be a successful leader when he contests the next presidential election. You do not want a presidential election in future in Sri Lanka. You only want to see an election that will elect members to a parliament where the Prime Minister alone has the executive power. This is why you have appealed to everyone to put the country before the party and come together to help you to form a National Government of Reconstruction and Reconciliation (NGRR). You and I are fully aware that, then only, you could change the constitution to get rid of the executive presidency and transfer that power to the Prime Minister, which position you could aspire to hold in the future.
Your Excellency, a NGRR is what we need in Sri Lanka to implement whatever is agreed between RW’s government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) through the current negotiations. However, the way you have approached the whole issue and the way you have appealed for the establishment of a NGRR as a cover up for the political mess you have created during the past few days is not in any way going to help towards that end. Instead, it is going to discourage even the innocent political parties from joining hands with you to form this proposed NGRR.
Your Excellency, in the television address you made to the nation, you have mentioned that the LTTE have not yet given up their call for a separate state. Your Excellency, I am surprised that you have not understood the LTTE’s open stand on this. The IC knows very well that the LTTE have only suspended their call for a separate state and are considering an alternative settlement under a federal arrangement with an International guarantee. If the IC has recognised the right for self determination of the people of Quebec, Bougaineville, East Timor and Southern Sudan, how can you expect the IC to accept your complaint that the LTTE have not yet given up their call for a separate state? Your Excellency, the IC does not depend on you and your adviser, Mr. Kathirgamar, to know about the LTTE anymore. The IC has met directly with the LTTE leadership to know enough about them. They have observed their behaviour very closely for the last two years to study them in detail.
Your Excellency, your adviser, Mr. Kathirgamar, is a person who works for his personal interest. His worry now is that all the lies he told and false propaganda he carried out overseas when he was your Foreign Minister are being proved wrong through the current peace process. Therefore, he has an interest to scuttle this peace process to prevent him being unmasked. Therefore, relying on him for advice will put you more into trouble rather than enhancing your chances for a political come back.
Therefore, Your Excellency, if you really want all the political parties to put the country first, you need to set the example first. You need to reconcile with RW and his government for what you have done during the last few days. Re-instate the status quo that was there before RW left for Washington. Then, with the help of the IC, you should appeal genuinely to all the parties to join you, to form that NGRR to settle the Tamil problem. If you could do this, then you could convince everyone that you are genuinely interested in solving the problems your country is facing at the moment. Then only the political parties can jointly make decisions in solving the Tamil problem and other problems your country is facing.
I hope and pray that wisdom would prevail at the end.
God Bless you and your country.
Dr. Victor Rajakulendran
Hon. Jan Peterson, State Secretary, Norway
Hon. Jack Straw, Foreign Secretary, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, London
Hon. Javier Solana, Secretary General, EU
Mr. Colin L. Powell, Secretary of State, US Department of State, Washington DC
Ms. Yoriko Kavaguchi, Foreign Minister, Japan
Hon. Alexander Downer, Minister Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australia
Mr. Yasusi Akashi, Japan Special Peace Envoy to Sri Lanka, Japan
Posted November 12, 2003