Reports in Sri Lanka’s weekly English newspaper, Sunday Times have exposed the Rajapaksa regime’s two-faced policies with concern to proceeding with the reconciliation process, following events that expired alongside South African Vice President Cyril Ramaphosa’s visit to the island last week.
The ST editorial and the Political Column have shed a critical light on the government’s cagey and contradictory takes on Ramaphosa’s visit to Sri Lanka.
The ST Political Column titled ‘UPFA loses friends and influences disasters’ reveals that Ramaphosa had maintained a firm stance on his purpose of visiting Sri Lanka, during his meeting with President Rajapaksa. “Your Excellency, we are here at the invitation of your Government. If you don’t like our role, we are prepared to withdraw. We have to protect the dignity of our country,” the column quotes Ramaphosa telling the President.
The paper’s editorial also says that during his meeting with Northern Chief Minister, Ramaphosa had said stated the South African initiative was to ‘complement the Geneva UNHRC agenda on Sri Lanka and the Indian process aimed at pushing for further devolution’.
But his statements seem to be in complete contradiction with the claims made by government Ministers on the accounts they have related as reasons for Ramaphosa’s Sri Lankan visit. Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella painted the picture of Ramaposa being nothing but a ‘tourist’ without any official program or agenda and Deputy Minister of External Affairs Neomal Perera stated in parliament that Ramaphosa was in Sri Lanka to ‘to share South Africa’s experience of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) process in order to explore the possibility of Sri Lanka adopting a similar mechanism’, making it clear that there was no ‘mediator role’ for South Africa.
The ST editorial points out that these contradictory stances of the Rajapaksa regime are attempts to water-down the impression that the South African Acting President is interfering in the internal affairs of Sri Lanka – particularly against the backdrop of the upcoming presidential elections – a fact, which the President himself had requested Ramaphosa to take into account, according to ST.
ST points out that it is ironical that the Sri Lankan government is desperately seeking to make Ramaphosa’s visit appear like a routine and a non-controversial one while they maintain the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) investigation on Sri Lanka is ‘intrusive’.
Further criticising government actions with regard to Ramaphosa’s visit the ST has stated that the process so far has ‘lacked transparency, is misleading, will cause acute embarrassment and further dent the UPFA Government’s credibility’ while pointing out it is yet another policy decision of the Rajapaksa regime where Sri Lankans and the outside world have been made to believe one story whilst the reality is another.