26 May, 2019

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WikiLeaks: ‘Prabhakaran Thinks We’re As Monolithic As He Is’ – Dhanapala To US

By Colombo Telegraph

“In separate meetings with Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse and Peace Secretariat head Jayantha Dhanapala on September 15, the Ambassador discussed prospects for resumed negotiations between the Government of Sri Lanka (GSL) and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). While Rajapakse expressed guarded optimism, Dhanapala offered a bleaker assessment, noting that in the lack of movement tensions between the Tigers and GSL security forces have increased in Trincomalee and Nagarkovil, while the small but vocal ‘anti-peace’ lobby in the South had become more strident. Dhanapala does not expect the visit of Norwegian Special Envoy Erik Solheim to alleviate the situation, since he has returned to Sri Lanka with no new proposals from the LTTE. Dhanapala asked the Embassy to raise LTTE encroachments in Trincomalee with the ceasefire monitors. Both Rajapakse and Dhanapala agreed that the LTTE seems to have dropped the March defection of Eastern military commander Karuna as a pretext for refusing to negotiate.”  the US Embassy Colombo informed Washington.

A Leaked ‘Confidential’ US diplomatic cable, dated September 15, 2004, updated the Secretary of State regarding and a  meeting Ambassador  Jeffrey J. Lunstead had with the President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Peace Secretariat head Jayantha Dhanapala . The Colombo Telegraph found the related leaked cable from the WikiLeaks database. The cable is signed by the US Ambassador to Colombo Jeffrey J. Lunstead.

The ambassador wrote; “In a meeting with the Ambassador the same day, Jayantha Dhanapala, the head of the Peace Secretariat, sounded a more pessimistic note. Dhanapala opened the meeting by thanking the USG for its August 19 statement condemning LTTE violence, as well as for the firm line communicated by Coordinator for Counterterrorism Ambassador Cofer Black in the media coverage of his recent visit (Ref B). The indignant reaction to Ambassador Black’s comments by pro-LTTE TNA MPs and media show that ‘the penny has dropped’ and his words hit home, Dhanapala said. The Ambassador and Dhanapala agreed that the tough messages from the EU and the Japanese have also been helpful (Ref C). Nonetheless, Dhanapala said, the basic situation remains ‘congealed in a stalemate.’ In the impasse, the anti-peace lobby, which Dhanapala believes remains a tiny minority of the general population, is becoming more vocal and strident, appearing to dominate the discourse on this important issue and to overwhelm supporters of the peace process. Although the President is personally committed to recommencing talks, she has not, despite his urging, launched a pro-peace public relations campaign to fill the vacuum and to refocus on the benefits of peace, he said. The Peace Secretariat cannot mobilize public support for the peace process on its own, he observed; that must be done at the political level. ”

“If the GSL succeeds in getting talks restarted, Dhanapala continued, that will dissipate some of the anti-peace lobby and ‘bring the JVP more earnestly on board’ once they see that negotiations are ‘a going thing.’ The GSL has already spent a good deal of time preparing its negotiating position, he said. Thus, if talks did resume, he believes an agreement on an interim arrangement could be reached quickly and discussion of a final arrangement begun. The window of opportunity is closing quickly, however, he warned. If the LTTE decides not to resume talks until it ‘cleans up’ the East, the JVP might take advantage of the lack of progress to engage with restive Muslim groups in the East, he suggested, and thereby increase pressure for a ‘de-merger’ of the North and East. Tiger supremo Prabhakaran does not understand the domestic political constraints the President is facing, Dhanapala said; ‘he thinks we’re as (politically) monolithic as he is.'” the ambassador further wrote.

Read the relevant part of the cable below;

Related posts to this cable;

WikiLeaks: Prime Minister Mahinda Described President Chandrika As “Very Confident”

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 COLOMBO 001526

SIPDIS

STATE FOR SA/INS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/13/2014
TAGS: PGOV PTER PREL CE LTTE
SUBJECT: SRI LANKA:  AMBASSADOR DISCUSSES PEACE PROCESS
WITH PRIME MINISTER, PEACE SECRETARIAT

REF: A. COLOMBO 1521
¶B. COLOMBO 1510
¶C. COLOMBO 1362

Classified By: AMB. JEFFREY J. LUNSTEAD.  REASON:  1.4 (B,D).

——-
SUMMARY
——–

¶1.  (C)  In separate meetings with Prime Minister Mahinda
Rajapakse and Peace Secretariat head Jayantha Dhanapala on
September 15, the Ambassador discussed prospects for resumed
negotiations between the Government of Sri Lanka (GSL) and
the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).  While Rajapakse
expressed guarded optimism, Dhanapala offered a bleaker
assessment, noting that in the lack of movement tensions
between the Tigers and GSL security forces have increased in
Trincomalee and Nagarkovil, while the small but vocal
“anti-peace” lobby in the South had become more strident.
Dhanapala does not expect the visit of Norwegian Special
Envoy Erik Solheim to alleviate the situation, since he has
returned to Sri Lanka with no new proposals from the LTTE.
Dhanapala asked the Embassy to raise LTTE encroachments in
Trincomalee with the ceasefire monitors.  Both Rajapakse and
Dhanapala agreed that the LTTE seems to have dropped the
March defection of Eastern military commander Karuna as a
pretext for refusing to negotiate.  End summary.

——————-
PM POSITIVE;
JVP CAN’T JUMP YET
——————-

¶2.  (C)  In a September 15 meeting with the Ambassador, Prime
Minister Mahinda Rajapakse described President Chandrika
Kumaratunga as “very confident” that she can soon restart
talks with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).  He
offered several reasons for this assessment.  The LTTE seems
to have stopped raising the March defection of Karuna, its
Eastern military commander, as a purported obstacle to
resumed negotiations, Rajapakse said.  In addition, the GSL
has formulated a proposal for a multipartisan Advisory
Council on the peace process (Ref A).  Finally, even the
Janatha Vimukti Peramuna (JVP), the left-wing nationalist
coalition partner that has been most vocal in criticizing the
LTTE’s proposal for an interim admiinistration, has now said
it is ready to discuss it, he noted.  The PM thinks the JVP’s
apparent turnaround is the result of a pragmatic political
calculus, rather than a fundamental change of heart.  It is
too early for the JVP to break ranks with the government,
Rajapakse said; the party will remain a coalition partner at
least until local council elections in April 2006, he
predicted.  Moreover, the pro-LTTE Tamil National Alliance
(TNA), with its 22 seats in Parliament, has pledged to
support the government if talks resume, he added.

¶3.  (C)  For now, the President has shelved her proposal for
a constituent assembly to abolish the executive presidency,
Rajapakse indicated.  Instead, the government is formulating
a comprehensive package of proposed constitutional
changes–including an interim arrangement for the north and
east–instead of “doing it piece by piece,” the PM said.  If
talks resume, the government and LTTE could reach a
negotiated settlement within one year, he predicted
confidently.

———————————–
PEACE SECRETARIAT MORE PESSIMISTIC
———————————–

¶4.  (C) In a meeting with the Ambassador the same day,
Jayantha Dhanapala, the head of the Peace Secretariat,
sounded a more pessimistic note.  Dhanapala opened the
meeting by thanking the USG for its August 19 statement
condemning LTTE violence, as well as for the firm line
communicated by Coordinator for Counterterrorism Ambassador
Cofer Black in the media coverage of his recent visit (Ref
B).  The indignant reaction to Ambassador Black’s comments by
pro-LTTE TNA MPs and media show that “the penny has dropped”
and his words hit home, Dhanapala said.  The Ambassador and
Dhanapala agreed that the tough messages from the EU and the
Japanese have also been helpful (Ref C).  Nonetheless,
Dhanapala said, the basic situation remains “congealed in a
stalemate.”  In the impasse, the anti-peace lobby, which
Dhanapala believes remains a tiny minority of the general
population, is becoming more vocal and strident, appearing to
dominate the discourse on this important issue and to
overwhelm supporters of the peace process.  Although the
President is personally committed to recommencing talks, she
has not, despite his urging, launched a pro-peace public
relations campaign to fill the vacuum and to refocus on the
benefits of peace, he said.  The Peace Secretariat cannot
mobilize public support for the peace process on its own, he
observed; that must be done at the political level.

¶5.  (C) If the GSL succeeds in getting talks restarted,
Dhanapala continued, that will dissipate some of the
anti-peace lobby and “bring the JVP more earnestly on board”
once they see that negotiations are “a going thing.”  The GSL
has already spent a good deal of time preparing its
negotiating position, he said.  Thus, if talks did resume, he
believes an agreement on an interim arrangement could be
reached quickly and discussion of a final arrangement begun.
The window of opportunity is closing quickly, however, he
warned.  If the LTTE decides not to resume talks until it
“cleans up” the East, the JVP might take advantage of the
lack of progress to engage with restive Muslim groups in the
East, he suggested, and thereby increase pressure for a
“de-merger” of the North and East.  Tiger supremo Prabhakaran
does not understand the domestic political constraints the
President is facing, Dhanapala said; “he thinks we’re as
(politically) monolithic as he is.”

LUNSTEAD

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    Why is CT carrying this outdated old hat now?

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