14 June, 2024

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President Positions Sri Lanka To Win International Support 

By Jehan Perera

Jehan Perera

Under President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s leadership it looks like Sri Lanka is once again punching above its weight. The president took centre stage at the 19th Summit of the Heads of State and Government of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and the 3rd South Summit of the Group of 77 & China currently taking place in Kampala, Uganda. The president’s media unit stated that at the invitation of President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, President Wickremesinghe not only participated in these critical global gatherings but also addressed both the NAM Summit and the South Summit. During his visit to Kampala, he is reported to have engaged in discussions with counterparts from the Global South, with a special focus on strengthening ties with leaders from the African region.

The photograph of the Non-Aligned Movement’s 120 leaders showed the Sri Lankan president in the front row right next to the conference host President Museveni of Uganda. The last time Sri Lanka took the centre stage in this manner was when Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike hosted the Non-Aligned Movement Summit in Colombo in 1976 which was one of the most important gatherings as it tilted the developing countries towards making greater demands for international economic justice. At that time, Sri Lanka was itself an economic trendsetter in the international arena, as it demonstrated the possibility of development with equity. Sri Lanka had a physical quality of life index that surpassed many other countries with higher per capita incomes.

At the summit, President Wickremesinghe delivered a speech that would be a trendsetter and obtain for him the respect of world leaders gathered there. In his speech, the Sri Lankan president dealt boldly with two central issues of concern to the developing countries. He took on the issue of the war in Gaza and the continued domination of the global South by the global North. He pointed to the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip and with his own experiences of coping with ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka, he said “in line with multiple UN Resolutions, and the Declaration of this Summit, the international community must recognise the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem as territories coming within the State of Palestine and in addition there should be no change in the ethnic composition of Gaza.”

Calibrated Approach 

The president’s words would do much to assuage Muslim sentiment, both in Sri Lanka and internationally in the aftermath of the president’s controversial decision to send Sri Lankan naval warships into the Red Sea to join the international naval force led by the United States. The president’s decision to send Sri Lankan navy ships thousands of miles away to protect the freedom of the seas led to all the middle eastern ambassadors in Sri Lanka having a meeting with him. There have also been expressions of concern that the high cost of the operation is unaffordable to a country in which more than a quarter of the population is below the poverty line. In addition, there is the element of disregard to the sentiments of the Muslim population in the country who are emotionally supportive of the Palestinian cause.

One of the president’s protégés, UNP Chairman Vajira Abeywardena has explained the rationale for the president’s numerous foreign visits as motivated by the desire to place the country’s interests first before the international community. There has been criticism that the president is spending too much money during a time when the country can ill-afford extra spending. The UNP chairman is reported to have said President Ranil Wickremesinghe has garnered global attention due to his efforts in steering the country from the brink of a crisis towards a path of development within a short span of one and a half years and the President has effectively utilized foreign trips to achieve this goal. He noted there is a potential opportunity to advance the country with the support of international institutions such as the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, Asian Development Bank, JICA and supportive nations. In this light it appears that the president is adopting a calibrated foreign policy approach to maximize the benefits to the country. It is significant that neither the government nor the president has backtracked on the naval mission to the Red Sea.

The second half of the president’s speech at the Non-Aligned Meeting in Uganda was just as compelling as the first half. The president made a claim for intellectual leadership of the Non-Aligned group of countries. He spoke stirringly about the North-South divide and the need for the global South to assert itself. He said, “Our membership today is no longer a grouping of weak states. We must recognise that as a result of the rapid progress and economic advancement of some Asian, African and Latin American states. A majority of the 10 leading economies of 2050 will belong to this movement. We see among us, rising aspirants for leadership status in global affairs. They must be prepared to give leadership.”

Winning Trust 

In making his presence felt in Uganda, President Wickremesinghe would have also been mindful that among the 120 countries present, almost half were from the African continent whose support he would be counting on. In March and again in September this year, Sri Lanka will be coming up before the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva for discussion regarding its implementation of Resolutions 46/1 and 51/1 on the theme of “Promoting reconciliation, accountability, and human rights in Sri Lanka.” Since the war ended in 2009, Sri Lanka has been subjected to strictures by the UN Human Rights Council. It was able to prevail only once, when its diplomats led by Dr Dayan Jayatilleka were able to convince the countries of the global South that it was sincere in addressing post-war issues. But thereafter Sri Lanka has lost every single vote due to non-implementation of the promises it made then and subsequently.

At the present time, Sri Lanka has many promises to keep in terms of post-war justice. As successive governments have failed to keep their word, the international human rights community has set up an international data collection unit in Geneva “to collect, consolidate, analyse and preserve information and evidence and to develop possible strategies for future accountability processes for gross violations of human rights or serious violations of international humanitarian law in Sri Lanka, to advocate for victims and survivors, and to support relevant judicial and other proceedings, including in Member States, with competent jurisdiction”. However, after the president’s lobbying effort in Uganda, it is possible that Sri Lanka will once again, as in 2009, be able to persuade the majority of countries in the UN Human Rights Council to end their surveillance.

Making the government’s task easier to prevail internationally is the severe erosion of the credibility of the UN in the face of its inability to make a difference in protecting human rights in Gaza. The government is making doubly sure of its success by pushing through its reconciliation mechanisms especially the Office of National Unity and Reconciliation which was established by the passage of an Act of Parliament earlier in this month, and now the Commission on Truth, Unity and Reconciliation, the draft law of which was gazetted this month. It is unlikely that the international community will fail to be impressed by these governmental initiatives. The government is winning its battles in the international arena one by one. However, the true test for the government lies in gaining the trust and confidence of the Sri Lankan people. The recent election within the main Tamil political party, resulting in the defeat of the moderate candidate, suggests that more efforts are needed within the country to secure lasting success.

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Latest comments

  • 6
    5

    I just read the heading which is completely wrong. The truth is that Ranil Wickremasingha’s position from the day of Aragalaya today is to maximise the opportunities to become President. USA and Ranil worked together to get rid of Rajapaksa family from power and to capture the power and to become an elected President.

    • 3
      5

      Dear Ajith,

      cant that be your own himmel thoughts? Today I am forced to think that the “ARAGALAYA” was behind RW. Most of the people who started offering free food and drinks to the participants were from Colombo’s wealthy class who always respected RW and similar decent leaders. Many others later tried to give birth certificates to it.

      If not for him, how would have srilanken been given the chance with IMF ?

      What if IMF showed their posterior to srilankens ?

      were we not in an emergency situation, not being able to even our ship containtments to be paid off ?
      were we atleast supplied with most essential by the time, RW risked his job ?GOTA was a real puppet in many ways looking back …

      I am not supporting RW, if any other leaders such as CBK (thanks to her only TSUNAMI recovery was made possible), I would have agreed with them too. But I am quiet confident, that AKD or Dullas would have been like a SQUARE PEG in a ROUND hole in case they were elected by the parliament to be the caretaker president.. that is for sure.

      why did not Pakistan win IMF prior to srilanka ? why was Lebanon marching behind ? Why dont you think about the empty side of the glass of water.?

      • 2
        0

        cont.

        This is common to srilankens than to any other folks. ist not it ?That they have cemented in their genetics. Be them tamils, sinhalese, or others in our hell, cant see things forseebly. They fall on the easy tricks of anyone easily.

        There are few other ministers in current cabinet made it very clear, when RW is among the world leaders, makes every single meeting to beg them or kneel down before and ask for financial and material assistance for the island.
        Why should he have been doing so, if he would like to do harm to this nation?
        Nothing more can do to harm by the time, Medamulana DOGs were driven away. However, the mandate won by SLPP was still in the parliament, so that the ball can be moved forward. What RW did was, knwoing the GROUND REALITIES (srilanken is filled with sinhala racists that uninamiously supported a bunch of sinhala racists in the election of 2019 and 2020), he did a good job.I dont think he would be given an extension by the people. That is also fine. Let this nation be fallen even deeper… so that formerly poor african states could overtake them soon because people are real beasts that would never change their nature.

        • 4
          2

          Leelagemalli,
          I know very well that you are a RW supporter. There is nothing wrong with that. But the country does not need temporary make up. That is not the focus of RW or IMF or US.

      • 2
        1

        “What if IMF showed their posterior to srilankens ?”
        Is there much to choose between the anterior and posterior?

  • 3
    3

    “…steering the country from the brink of a crisis towards a path of development within a short span of one and a half years…”
    .
    What path of development?
    .

  • 4
    2

    Jehan Perera
    We have said repeatedly that Jehan Perera is a contracted writer whose duty is promote Ranil Wickramasinghe. It is an insult to the readers of the Colombo Telegraph to let this person to write column on this masthead.
    Ranil travel to this conference to take fun. Every leader in the world knows that he was not elected but a puppet of a Rajapakse family. Jehan very well knows these facts but in Sri Lanka you can find thousands of low grade journalist who sell there integrity for money, favors and fame. Ad nauseam.

    • 2
      2

      ‘We have said repeatedly that Jehan Perera is a contracted writer whose duty is promote Ranil Wickramasinghe.’
      HE HAD OTHER CONTRACTS EARLIER WHICH HE FULFILLED LOYALLY, BUT NOT ALWAYS CLEVERLY.

  • 5
    1

    President Positions Sri Lanka To Win International Support

    When you sell sri lanka to International, Support is there, but what about internal support, The success and of an agreement is a result of how expectations.

    • 1
      2

      This could lead to rather unpleasant outcomes. A leader that caters to international compulsions without due consideration and recognition to the realities, expectations and aspirations of the people on the ground.
      .
      Nothing new I guess. What the UNP has always been doing. Reason why JRJ’s capitalist experiment could not succeed but resulted in driving the country to banckruptcy in less than five decades.

      • 2
        1

        R,
        Don’t you think poor African countries should consider valid debt restructuring?
        I do not agree that he has raised everything he does, but this is very reasonable in the case of developing nations.
        Many leaders are silent at such gatherings without being loud enough, however, I saw RW raise it louder than anyone. Why should it be wrong? It could help other countries that have been in debt struggles for years.
        Yesterday, at the train station I got to know a Chinese student who was a refugee in Germany. I spoke to him using his telephone as a translator. He affirmed that he would never return to China, which he found to be hell for middle- to lower-class people. He went on to say that all is not broken when it comes to the growing economy.

        • 1
          1

          I am not sure what your comment has got to do with mine. I am addressing the fact that Ranil not having a mandate or the support of his local electorate. Nothing to do with China or Africa.

  • 1
    1

    “Win International Support “
    To destroy it completely?

  • 2
    0

    This is what the bastard son s lips allow today.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L_3iB7DBF0A

  • 3
    1

    Jehan.
    In what position is your Hero Ranil playing?
    Full Back, Centre half, Scrum half, Wicket Keeper ?

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