Fonseka-Sampanthan Pact and post-war reconciliation of Sri Lanka

By Ajith Perakum Jayasinghe

(January 16, Colombo - Lanka Polity) Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) led present ruling coalition has once again resorted to racism targetting to win the early presidential to be held on January 26 seeking re-election of the President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Rajapaksa intended to investe the last year's war victory for his re-election but he was ill-fated to face a pitch battle in which the probability for losing is also high with the opposition deciding to set forth the former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka as the common opposition candidate. Fonseka though he was a hardline Sinhala chauvinist in the past took the capitalist liberal line during his campaign and mustered support of the majority of the minority community political parties pushing Rajapaksa into jealousy and further risk of defeat.

In 2004 general election, the present ruling coalition United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA) concocted a story of 'an Elephant-Tiger Pact' that did an enormous damage to the United National Party (UNP) whose leader ex-Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe signed the 2002 ceasefire agreement. Ultimately, the UNP lost the election. In the Presidential held an year later, they performed extremely well and Wickramasinghe lost to the present President Mahinda Rajapaksa in a narrow margin. He was deprived of minority Tamil community votes by then powerful Tamil Tiger rebels who called for a boycott of the Presidential. Rajapaksas supported by Sinhala chauvinist 'Marxist' People's Liberation Front (JVP) thrived in their racist campaign based on the concocted story of Elephant-Tiger Pact. The so-called pact was for dividing the nation, the UPFA then said.

Six years have passed and none of the government politicians have disclosed a copy of that so called Elephant-Tiger Pact. Definitely, one such never existed.

History repeats. The UPFA has now resorted to a new racist campaign based on a so-called Sampanthan-Fonseka pact. They do not articulate clearly if it is to divide the nation like the fabricated 'Elephant-Tiger Pact'. Who cares? They need no content. When the content is secret, the fear created in the minds of the majority Sinhala community is endless.

Rajapaksa's campaign managers that know too well that people do not believe what the state media says manipulated several pawns that were planted in privately-owned Lankadeepa newspaper. They fabricated a story to be published on January 10 in which Tamil National Alliance (TNA) leader R. Sampanthan says that the TNA had pledged support to Fonseka since the latter agreed to their 'conditions'.

'Derana TV' another television owned by the family members of a powerful cabinet Minister Sarath Amunugama was 'clever' in obtaining a statement from a junior TNA MP about an 'agreement'. The approach of these Sinhala media in interviews with the Tamil MPs is extremely racist. These MPs do not understand Sinhala language properly. On the other hand, these 'embedded' journalists are hard-boiled than them.

Now the story is published. The writer who wrote it failed to prove she was correct and resigned the job. She will definitely be given a good position in state-owned Lake House soon after the Presidential if Rajapaksas win. Now, the racist campaigners of the UPFA, including Mahinda Rajapaksa himself, are following up the fabricated story on the pretended assupmtion of it as a fact. Even the Norwegian embassy staff is also involved in the signing of the so-called agreement as witnesses, they say. Why Norway? Why was it not US or a any other European country? Norway facilitated the ceasefire and was subjected to the wrath of the Sinhala majority for a long time by the UPFA politicians.

This reminds us Barry Levinsons's movie 'Wag the Dog' in which a false war with Albania is created by a Hollywood cinematographer in media to deviate the voters' focus from a sex scandal of a US President seeking reelection, two weeks ahead of the polls.

One can say that the 'Sampanthan-Fonseka Pact' is a success of the campaign managers of Rajapaksa. But this trick is played on the ethnic reconciliation in the post-war period. TNA expresses the frustration in Tamil community over Rajapaksa rule. The backing Fonseka received from the majority Sinhala community is also caused by similar frustration. It is democracy the TNA pledges support to any of the candidates of the presidential. They could have supported to Rajapaksa. TNA says that the support pledged to Fonseka is not conditional. Fonseka has said he will work for a political solution based on power devolution that exceeds the perimeters of the Provincial Councils that were introduced under the 13th amendment to the constitution, two decades ago.

Are conditions and agreements are so important, if they exist? Have Sri Lankan politicians kept all promises, pledges, conditions and agreements so far in the history? We do not believe in these pledges etc. But, we believe in the joint actions of Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim and other communities of Sri Lanka. One day the ethnic unity will bring results although it will not be tomorrow.

They can do any gimmick to win elections.That is capitalist democracy. They do not stuff ballot boxes by force like in some past elections in Sri Lanka. Instead, they subtly manipulate media to build opinions in your mind to compell you to vote to them. That is their democracy that we have had to accept for the moment. The problem here is that this game is played on the potential reconcilation among ethnicities in the post-war period. It is The UPFA is campaigning against a negotiated settlement. They are creating fear and hatred  in the minds of the Sinhala majority people. Their campaign is Sinhala racist and anti Tamil now. This campaign violates all the norms of the democracy, rule of law and the codes of ethics of politics and social life.

There are two sectors in Sri Lankan polity that is happy about this development. They are the Tamil extremists that do not accept anything less than seperate state irresepective of whatever amount of blood is needed to be shed and years are needed to achieve this goal as a solution for the problem of the Tamils. Steps towards Tamil-Sinhala reconciliation are allergic to them. The other group is the Sinhala racist forces that are risked of losing their livelihood following the unexpected defeat of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE). These two groups are a single bunch of opportunists with good mutual understanding, respect and rapport. By circumstances, one was made to defeat the other militarily. For them, blood is not more worth than any other object they meet across their path. They need the other for their existence. That is why the Sinhala chauvinists are giving a hand to the Tamil nationalist extremists.


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