The illegal foreign minister of Sri Lanka, Dr. Sarath Amunugama was humiliated in Maldives when he attempted to lead the Sri Lanka delegation to the inauguration of President elect, Ibrahim Mohamed Solih.
Amunugama who was named as “foreign minister” by President Maithripala Sirisena after the October 26 coup would anyway lose his position after the defeat of the No Confidence Motion against purported Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa. As per Article 48 (2) of the constitution the Cabinet of Ministers stand dissolved in the event of a prime minister losing a No Confidence motion. Two no confidence votes have been passed in Parliament and the Speaker’s rulings have gone unchallenged. Only the House can overturn a ruling by the Speaker despite the President’s obstinate and unconstitutional claims that he will not “accept” the NCMs passed against his illegally appointed PM.
Almost one month into the Coup the Sirisena-Rajapaksa illegal Government is desperate for international recognition. Snubbed once by Colombo based foreign correspondents the illegal Foreign Minister even used a routine press conference at the Ministry to which local and foreign media were invited to claim foreign media had met the “FOREIGN MINISTER”.
He was hoping for a picture opportunity with regional leaders that would give the Rajapaksa’s illegal cabinet some semblance of international legitimacy. No country in the world has recognised the illegitimate government of Rajapaksa and his Cabinet. Not a single congratulatory message has been received from any country, let alone India and the West. No Ambassador based in Sri Lanka has met the illegal foreign minister in a formal setting. When Foreign Ministers Mangala Samaraweera, Ravi Karunanayake and Thilak Marapana were appointed they all visited New Delhi within days and met with the Indian establishment. In all these instances high level meetings were arranged including with Prime Minister Modi.
Amunugama had hoped he could hobnob with the regional leaders and sneak in a photo opportunity to claim a minimum level of legitimacy to his rogue regime. All these plans went astray when the newly elect Maldivian government decided in invite former president Chandrika Kumaratunga for the inauguration of president Solih. Former President Kumaratunga was given pride of place by the Maldivians at the function. She sat next to former Maldives presidents Mohamed Waheed and Mohamed Nasheed. Next to Nasheed was the most powerful man of South Asia, Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India. Nowhere in sight of the VVIPs was the supposed head of the Sri Lankan delegation, pseudo foreign minister Sarath Amunugama.
Clearly he did not expect to be relegated to a side by former President Kumaratunga. Amunugama didn’t even get the two second opportunity to shake hands with Prime Minister Modi to pull off his diplomatic coup for recognition. Instead President Kumaratunga was seen engaged in cordial conversation with the prime minister of India. The former Sri Lankan President also met President Solih after the inauguration. Desperate for photo ops but getting none Amunugama and his ‘delegation’ which included only Faizer Mustapha who was attending on a personal connection and the son and heir of Mahinda Rajapaksa – Namal. The country’s purported second son was seated way back somewhere near ambassadors from neighbouring countries who were accredited to the Maldives once again a safe distance away from Modi and other guests of honour.
The Rajapaksa camp has once again failed to fathom the power of a democratic movement against authoritarian rule. The parallels between the January 8th movement and the opposition victory in the Maldives are significant. The victorious president Solih represents a cross section of the opposition to former strongman Yameen, who like Rajapaksa took Maldives in a path of undemocratic repression. President Nasheed in particular who was in exile found support from Prime Minister Wickremesinghe. It was due to this gratitude that he had Sri Lanka on his minds at the most momentous occasion of recent Maldivian history. He tweeted “As a new dawn breaks in the Maldives, it’s heartbreaking to see Sri Lanka in such difficulty. I hope Sri Lanka will soon come out of this predicament. Sri Lankans are like our cousins, and Maldivians celebrate today only because of Sri Lanka’s help and support.” This is a not so subtle reference to the support extended by the Ranil Wickremesinghe government to the democratic forces in Maldives in the last three and a half years.