Colombo Telegraph

WikiLeaks: Mahinda Confident That He Can Manipulate The JVP, We Hope He’s Right – US

By Colombo Telegraph

“Rajapakse, more energetic and articulate than we’ve seen him, is supremely confident that he can control and manipulate the JVP to suit his electoral purposes. We hope he’s right. The problem is that he seems oblivious to our point that ‘words matter’ and that interested international partners (and, presumably, the LTTE) cannot help but read his pact with the JVP as a renunciation of the peace process and economic reform, even when viewed through the prism of electoral opportunism. Our counsel that ‘words matter’ seemed to fall on deaf ears but we will continue to make it. At several points during the conversation Rajapakse also made clear his resentment of the Bandaranaikes, the manner in which they have treated him, and their presumption, as he sees it, that the SLFP is family property.” the US Embassy Colombo informed Washington.

Rajapaksa and the US Ambassador Lunstead

A Leaked “CONFIDENTIAL” US diplomatic cable, dated September 12, 2005, updated the Secretary of State on Sri Lanka’s presidential election 2005. The Colombo Telegraph found the related leaked cable from the WikiLeaks database. The cable was signed by the US Ambassador Jeffrey LunsteadThe cable details a US meeting with Prime Minister and the Presidential candidate Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Under the subheading “Trust Me” the ambassador wrote “Rajapakse concluded discussion of his pact with the JVP by stating, ‘I will deliver the goods. I come from the village and got here the hard way. Trust me. The peace process will continue.’ The Ambassador said he appreciated the words of reassurance but reiterated his suggestion that the PM make similar public assurances, especially to the international community.”

“The Ambassador noted that the economic tenets of the JVP agreement seemed to endorse major steps backwards on economic reform and privatization. Rajapakse dismissed such concerns, noting that the agreement ‘endorses globalization’ and only finds fault with privatization of key government entities. Asked about the agreement’s endorsement of a ‘non-aligned’ foreign policy, Rajapakse sputtered a bit about the need for Sri Lanka to ‘not be aligned exclusively with any foreign country.’ The Ambassador noted that the JVP’s role models included Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez and Kim Jong Il, all representing countries that had done nothing to further Sri Lanka’s development. The PM laughed off the Ambassador’s comments, noting that the JVP, following a trip by several of its leaders to Japan, is “now more interested in Japan as a model.” Jeffrey Lunstead further wrote.

Read the cable below for further details;

Related post to this cable;

WikiLeaks: Pact With JVP Is ‘Just Words’, I Know How To Handle And Use Them – Mahinda Assured US

WikiLeaks: Anti-Conversion Bill Is ‘Dead’, I Told JHU ‘To Forget About It’ – Mahinda Assured US

WikiLeaks:‘Nobody Else Could Do The Norwegian Job’, ‘If I Say That, I Will Lose The Elections’ MR To US

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 COLOMBO 001605 

SIPDIS 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/12/2015
TAGS: PGOV ECON KIRF CE
SUBJECT: PM RAJAPAKSE ASSURES AMBASSADOR ELECTORAL PACT
WITH JVP "JUST WORDS," COMMITMENT TO PEACE PROCESS NOT IN
QUESTION 

Classified By: Ambassador Jeffrey J. Lunstead for reasons 1.4 (b) and (
d). 

 ¶1.  (C) Summary.  PM Rajapakse describes his pact
with the JVP, which reads as an utter renunciation
of the peace process and economic reform, as "just
words" and assures the Ambassador of his
commitment to peace and his ability to use and
control the JVP.  We will continue to make the
point that even in the heat of an electoral
campaign, words matter.  Rajapakse described anti-
conversion legislation as "dead."  End Summary 

¶2.  (C) The Ambassador, accompanied by DCM
(notetaker), called on Prime Minister (and Sri
Lanka Freedom Party - SLFP- Presidential
candidate) Mahinda Rajapakse September 12.  The
Ambassador noted that he had just returned to Sri
Lanka after five weeks and conveyed condolences on
the assassination of former Foreign Minister
Lakshman Kadirgamar and expressed appreciation for
Sri Lanka's gestures of support in the wake of
Hurricane Katrina, both of which had occurred
during the Ambassador's absence. 

Renunciation of Peace Process?
------------------------------ 

¶3.  (C) Turning to the presidential election
campaign, the Ambassador told the PM that the
agreement that he had signed with the Marxist
Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) to bring them into
his electoral coalition had caught the attention
of the international community.  (Note: the
agreement, signed September 8, calls, inter alia,
for a complete renegotiation of the cease-fire
agreement (CFA), a re-examination of the role of
the Norwegian facilitators, insists on a "unitary"
state and trashes the Post-Tsunami Operational
Management Structure (P-TOMS) signed with the LTTE,
but now entangled in court challenges to its
constitutionality.  The agreement also criticizes
privatization in key economic sectors and promises
to follow JVP economic policies.  Over the
weekend, the press published an acerbic letter to
the PM from President Chandrika Bandanaraike
Kumaratunga (CBK) in which she criticized
Rajapakse for signing an agreement which, in her
view, contradicted key SLFP tenets and policies.
End Note)  The Ambassador noted that, taken at
face value, the agreement with the JVP would
appear to be a complete renunciation of the
ongoing peace process which has long enjoyed the
support of the international community. 

No Cause for Concern: "Just Words"
---------------------------------- 

¶4.  (C) The Prime Minister told the Ambassador
that there should be no cause for concern since
the agreement was "just words."  Moreover, there
had been translation inaccuracies from the signed
Sinhala original into English.  Rajapakse reviewed
his long history of opposition to and district
electoral victories over the JVP and told the
Ambassador that he knew how to handle them and use
them.  In order to win the election, the PM said,
JVP support was essential, and he knew from
experience that the way to handle the JVP is to
agree to whatever they want in order to get their
support.  "You must understand this is an election
campaign.  I want to win, so I need everyone."
Moreover, Rajapakse concluded, there is nothing in
the agreement he signed with the JVP that could be
construed as not supporting the peace process.  "I
want peace." 

Ambassador:  "Words Matter"
--------------------------- 

¶5.  (C) The Ambassador demurred and told Rajapakse
that, for example, the call to renegotiate the CFA
and the disavowal of the P-TOMS both could be seen
as indications of a lack of faith in the peace
process and could, therefore, be used to stir up
trouble by those opposed to a lasting peace
agreement with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil
Eelam (LTTE).  Of course the PM wanted peace but
it was also important to avoid the possibility of
an "accidental return to war," fueled by
incendiary campaign rhetoric.  The international
community, especially the co-chairs scheduled to
meet in New York on September 19, would parse
every word of the agreement.  "Words matter," the
Ambassador counseled. 

¶6.  (C) The Ambassador asked Rajapakse if, by
signing the agreement, he wanted to see the
Norwegian facilitators replaced.  "No," replied
Rajapakse.  "Nobody else could do the job."  The
Ambassador suggested, in that case, that the PM
issue a statement saying he thought the Norwegians
and the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) are
doing a good job.  "If I say that, I will lose the
elections," Rajapakse replied, noting that "98
percent" of Southern voters believe the Norwegians
are biased in favor of the LTTE.  The PM told the
Ambassador "I can one hundred percent guarantee
you the peace process will continue" and cited as
an example his public declaration that he will
meet LTTE supremo Prabhakaran face-to-face if he
wins.  The Ambassador said that was a significant
gesture but it is important to continue "step by
step" progress on the ground and that the contents
of the PM's pact with the JVP could easily
complicate that task. 

Bad Treatment by CBK
-------------------- 

¶7.  (C) Rajapakse told the Ambassador that CBK's
criticism of his JVP pact was unwarranted.  After
he was named the SLFP presidential candidate, he
claimed, CBK had told him to do whatever necessary
to clinch the support of both the JVP and the
Buddhist JHU.  "Now that I've done that, she
criticizes me."  He noted that he is at a
disadvantage on peace process issues since CBK
kept him in the dark on the subject ever since he
became PM (Note:  True enough.  End Note)
Nonetheless, he continued, he knows how to handle
the JVP:  agree to whatever they want in order to
gain their support and win the election and then
gradually turn them in a more moderate direction.
(Comment:  It is hard to say that this strategy
succeeded after the SLFP signed an agreement with
the JVP to form a coalition government in April
¶2004.  End Comment) 

The Economy and Non-Alignment
----------------------------- 

¶8.  (C) The Ambassador noted that the economic
tenets of the JVP agreement seemed to endorse
major steps backwards on economic reform and
privatization.  Rajapakse dismissed such concerns,
noting that the agreement "endorses globalization"
and only finds fault with privatization of key
government entities.  Asked about the agreement's
endorsement of a "non-aligned" foreign policy,
Rajapakse sputtered a bit about the need for Sri
Lanka to "not be aligned exclusively with any
foreign country."  The Ambassador noted that the
JVP's role models included Fidel Castro, Hugo
Chavez and Kim Jong Il, all representing countries
that had done nothing to further Sri Lanka's
development.  The PM laughed off the Ambassador's
comments, noting that the JVP, following a trip by
several of its leaders to Japan, is "now more
interested in Japan as a model." 

"Trust Me"
---------- 

¶9.  (C) Rajapakse concluded discussion of his pact
with the JVP by stating, "I will deliver the
goods.  I come from the village and got here the
hard way.  Trust me.  The peace process will
continue."  The Ambassador said he appreciated the
words of reassurance but reiterated his suggestion
that the PM make similar public assurances,
especially to the international community. 

Anti-conversion Bill "Dead"
--------------------------- 

¶10.  (C)As the meeting wrapped up, the Ambassador
asked Rajapakse about the status of anti-
conversion legislation.  The PM waved his hand
dismissively and said "it is still in the
Parliament but it is dead."  He said he had told
the Buddhist JHU party  "to forget about it." 

Comment
------- 

¶11.  (C) Rajapakse, more energetic and articulate
than we've seen him, is supremely confident that
he can control and manipulate the JVP to suit his
electoral purposes.  We hope he's right.  The
problem is that he seems oblivious to our point
that "words matter" and that interested
international partners (and, presumably, the LTTE)
cannot help but read his pact with the JVP as a
renunciation of the peace process and economic
reform, even when viewed through the prism of
electoral opportunism.  Our counsel that "words
matter" seemed to fall on deaf ears but we will
continue to make it.  At several points during the
conversation Rajapakse also made clear his
resentment of the Bandaranaikes, the manner in
which they have treated him, and their
presumption, as he sees it, that the SLFP is
family property.  End Comment
LUNSTEAD

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