Colombo Telegraph

WikiLeaks: Rajapaksa Overpowered JVP’s Sinhala-Buddhist Nationalist Message

By Colombo Telegraph

“Herath told PolOff that the JVP was aiming for new political era, which had begun with the recent results from the southern provincial elections.” the US Ambassador wrote to Washington.

fighting together, but marching separately

The Ambassador wrote “Nonetheless, Herath expressed frustration with Rajapaksa’s refusal to abolish the executive Presidency, citing the seventh clause of the UPFA’s agreement with the JVP, reached in the run up to the last presidential election. Herath said the JVP’s main election goal was defeat Rajapaksa and do away with the Executive Presidency, which the JVP viewed as an obstacle to democracy.”

The Colombo Telegraph found the leaked cable from the WikiLeak database. The cable classified as “CONFIDENTIAL” by the US ambassador Patricia A. Butenis. The cable written on October 6, 2009, recount details of a meeting the embassy has had with MP Vijitha Hearth of the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP).

Under the subheading “Election Strategy” the Ambassador wrote “when PolOff asked about a formal alliance with the UNP, he responded that it was not possible: ‘fighting together, but marching separately”

Placing a comment the Ambassador said “The JVP has fought to remain politically relevant after its traditionally Sinhala-Buddhist nationalist message was overpowered by President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s aggressive military prosecution and subsequent victory over the LTTE in May 2009. Rajapaksa managed to weaken the party further when Rajapaksa loyalists split off to form the National Freedom Front in May 2008, leaving behind the traditional leftists. The remaining JVP members have grown increasingly frustrated with Rajapaksa’s refusal to follow through on his promise to end Executive Presidency and what they perceive as his lack of focus on important post-war issues.”

Read the relevant part of the cable below;

VZCZCXRO0717
OO RUEHAG RUEHROV RUEHSL RUEHSR
DE RUEHLM #1016/01 3100609
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 060609Z NOV 09
FM AMEMBASSY COLOMBO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0733
INFO RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHKA/AMEMBASSY DHAKA PRIORITY 2019
RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD PRIORITY 9055
RUEHKT/AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU PRIORITY 7293
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 5202
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI PRIORITY 3448
RUEHNY/AMEMBASSY OSLO PRIORITY 5154
RUEHOT/AMEMBASSY OTTAWA PRIORITY 0027
RUEHSM/AMEMBASSY STOCKHOLM PRIORITY 0689
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO PRIORITY 4265
RUEHCG/AMCONSUL CHENNAI PRIORITY 9618
RUEHBI/AMCONSUL MUMBAI PRIORITY 6912
RUEHON/AMCONSUL TORONTO PRIORITY 0001
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA PRIORITY 3812
RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI PRIORITY
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 COLOMBO 001016

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR SCA/INSB

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/05/2019
TAGS: PGOV PREL PREF PHUM PTER EAID MOPS CE
SUBJECT: JVP: PLAYING IT CLOSE TO THE CHEST--FOR NOW

REF: COLOMBO 1006

COLOMBO 00001016  001.2 OF 002

Classified By: Ambassador Patricia A. Butenis.  REASONS: 1.4 (B, D)

¶1. (C) SUMMARY.  In a meeting with PolOff, MP Vijitha Herath
of the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP, the People's
Liberation Front) offered guarded comments indicated the
leftist-nationalist party was probably waiting for a more
certain political climate to declare publicly its political
intentions. Herath repeatedly underscored the need to abolish
the Executive Presidency. He cited the economy and IDPs as
central issues for the JVP, issues which he accused the GSL
of largely ignoring. The JVP expressed great concern over
recent rumors of U.S. prosecution for war crimes of Chief of
Defense Staff General Sarath Fonseka, and possibly Defense
Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, which could crush its election
hopes. END SUMMARY.

ELECTION STRATEGY
---------------

¶2. (SBU) Herath told PolOff that the JVP was aiming for a new
political era, which had begun with the recent positive
results from the southern provincial elections. He said he
had noticed a change in the political climate in the past
several weeks. Nonetheless, Herath expressed frustration with
Rajapaksa's refusal to abolish the Executive Presidency,
citing the seventh clause of the UPFA's agreement with the
JVP, reached in the run up to the last presidential election.
Herath said the JVP's main election goal was to defeat
Rajapaksa and do away with the Executive Presidency, which
the JVP viewed as an obstacle to democracy.

¶3. (C) Herath argued the GSL was singularly focused on
winning the upcoming elections at the expense of key issues
and was disingenuous in its promises to abolish the Executive
Presidency. He said that the JVP had not yet decided on its
candidate, but offered that Fonseka and former Chief Justice
of the Supreme Court Sarath Silva were possibilities.  When
PolOff asked about a formal alliance with the UNP, he
responded that it was not possible, but that an alliance at
an unofficial level was possible: "fighting together, but
marching separately." (NOTE: The JVP-led uprisings against
the then-UNP-led government in the 1970s and 80s and the
government's brutal response, as well as fundamental
ideological differences, probably are the primary factors
keeping them apart. END NOTE.) Herath opined that it was more
advantageous to the JVP to hold parliamentary elections
before Presidential elections.

¶5. (SBU) Herath pointed to economic problems, including the
increased cost of staples, which most people expected to
decrease after the war, as a sign that the GSL's focus was

COLOMBO 00001016  002.2 OF 002

not on the issues that were important to voters. He accused
Central Bank Governor Ajith Cabraal of quoting faulty
statistics to paint a falsely rosy picture of the economy.
The GSL overspent on the war and had not put together an
effective budget, which was why they had not presented one to
Parliament. Herath said that he had just returned from
Batticaloa, where he witnessed the government's inability to
provide promised compensation to civilians displaced from the
war and for land it appropriated during the war.

COMMENT
-------

¶7. (C) In the wake of the United National Party's
announcement of its United National Front alliance and the
Tamil National Alliance's Tamil coalition, the leftist JVP is
waiting for the dust to settle before publicly committing to
an election strategy and choosing its political partners. The
JVP has fought to remain politically relevant after its
traditionally Sinhala-Buddhist nationalist message was
overpowered by President Mahinda Rajapaksa's aggressive
military prosecution and subsequent victory over the LTTE in
May 2009. Rajapaksa managed to weaken the party further when
Rajapaksa loyalists split off to form the National Freedom
Front in May 2008, leaving behind the traditional leftists.
The remaining JVP members have grown increasingly frustrated
with Rajapaksa's refusal to follow through on his promise to
end the Executive Presidency and what they perceive as his
lack of focus on important post-war issues.

BUTENIS

Back to Home page