21 September, 2018

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WikiLeaks: Sampanthan Told US That He Would Support The Rajapaksas Before Fonseka As The Lesser Of Two Evils

By Colombo Telegraph

“Segudawood’s comments indicate how complicated the election situation is even before the president announces whether a presidential elections will be held in the spring. (NOTE: the president is scheduled to announce his decision at the November 15 Congress of the SLFP. END NOTE.) The key complicating factor at this point is General Fonseka, who could split the Sinhalese vote and deprive the Rajapaksas of their key issue of winning the war. But Fonseka would be very hard for the Tamil community to support, however much they may dislike the Rajapaksas. TNA leader Sampanthan, for example, told us that he would support the Rajapaksas before Fonseka as the lesser of two evils.” the US Embassy Colombo informed Washington.

The Colombo Telegraph found the related leaked cable from the WikiLeaks database. The cable is classified as “Confidential” and recounts a meeting the US Embassy had with the Chairman of Sri Lanka Muslim Congress,Basheer Segu Dawood.  The cable was written on November 06, 2009  by the US Ambassador to Colombo, Patricia A. Butenis.

The ambassador wrote; “It is such complicating factors, as well as other big issues such as GSP-Plus and the U.S. Incidents Report that may be giving the president pause in deciding whether to call early presidential elections. Some keen observers are starting to believe that the president may wait another two years for the next regularly schedule polls. By then, presumably, the political storms over GSP-Plus and the Incidents Report will likely have passed in one way or another, General Fonseka may have faded from the scene, and the international economic situation will likely have improved with a potentially positive impact on the Sri Lankan economy. The political landscape, therefore, would be very different from the increasingly rocky one the president now faces.”

Read the cable below for further details;

Related posts to this cable;

WikiLeaks: Muslim Congress Strategy To Defeat Rajapaksa – Tamil Future In The Hands Of The Diaspora

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RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI PRIORITY
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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 03 COLOMBO 001019 

SIPDIS 

DEPARTMENT FOR SCA/INSB 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/07/2019
TAGS: PGOV PREL PREF PHUM PTER EAID MOPS CE
SUBJECT: MUSLIM CONGRESS LEADER ON ELECTIONS, FONSEKA, AND
TAMILS 

COLOMBO 00001019  001.2 OF 003 

Classified By: DEPUTY CHIEF OF MISSION VALERIE C. FOWLER.  REASONS: 1.4
 (B, D) 

¶1. (C) SUMMARY: In a meeting with PolOff, Chairman of Sri
Lanka Muslim Council (SLMC) and Eastern Provincial opposition
leader Basheer Segudawood spoke of his party's strategy to
defeat President Rajapaksa at the upcoming elections.  The
strategy included forming a broad coalition with the UNP and
other smaller minority parties and abolishing the Executive
Presidency.  In order to win, the coalition would need the
support of Tamil diaspora representatives, both in working
with local Tamils and with the Tamil diaspora community
abroad.  Segudawood noted the Tamil diaspora was hosting a
conference in London November 12-13 to discuss the
post-Prabhakaran future of Tamils.  Many of the minority
leaders were invited and were planning to attend.  According
to the SLMC leader a broad coalition of opposition
politicians was planning to join the newly formed United
National Front (UNF) for the election.  Segudawood expressed
tentative support for General Fonseka as a possible candidate
of the coalition.  END SUMMARY. 

UNP-led Grand Coalition
----------------------- 

¶2. (C) The SLMC Chairman discussed the signing of the MOU
creating the United National Front by the United National
Party (UNP), SLMC, Mangala Samaraweera's Sri Lanka Freedom
Party Mahajana (SLFP-M), and Mano Ganeshan's Western People
Front (WPF), as well as 19 other organizations and political
parties.  Segudawood pointed out that minority parties such
as the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), People Liberation
Organization of Thamileelam (PlOTE), Tamil United Liberation
Front (TULF), WPF, SLMC and the Upcountry People's Front were
now willing to work together with this grand coalition.  One
of the pledges of the coalition, developed in part to bring
these parties to common ground, would be to abolish the
Executive Presidency and return the country to a
parliamentary system of government.  UNP and SLFP (M) had
already made public statements on the issue.  While the SLMC
had been publicly silent on its support for the coalition,
Segudawood stressed that the SLMC would back the coalition to
defeat the president.  The chairman underscored UNP leader
Ranil Wickremesinghe's popularity with minorities but echoed
the sentiment, expressed privately by many political
observers in Colombo, of Wickremesinghe not being the ideal
candidate to beat the president.  Segudawood said he was
disappointed at some of the public actions, press releases,
and agendas of individual opposition and minority parties,
which he believed had been counterproductive to building an
anti-Rajapaksa coalition, and stressed the need for one voice
amongst the parties allied against the president. 

General Fonseka: Coalition Leader?
---------------------------------- 

¶3. (C) The SLMC chairman indicated there had been back
channel talks by opposition party operatives with Fonseka
about his role as a possible coalition leader.  He remarked
that while Fonseka's Sinhalese nationalistic ideology might
be similar to that of the Rajapaksas, Fonseka came from a
family that was born-and-bred UNP and would be the only one
capable of beating the current government.  For Fonseka to be
a viable candidate in the eyes of the minority and
opposition, however, he first would have to sign an agreement
to abolish the Executive Presidency within 90 days of the
elections.  Fonseka had yet to make a decision on whether he
would run, or with which party or group of parties he might
ally himself.  According to Segudawood, Fonseka would want
two issues clarified before considering the coalition offer: 

COLOMBO 00001019  002.2 OF 003 

his future after the Presidency was dissolved, and concerns
for his personal security, implying that the Rajapaksas might
stop at nothing to prevent him running against them.
Segudawood pointed out that UNP leader Ranil Wickramsinghe
personally promised Fonseka that the people would protect
him.  Janatha Vimukhti Peramuna (JVP) was also putting forth
a bill to Parliament that guaranteed former commanders and
senior officers, personal security. 

Tamil Future in the Hands of the Diaspora
----------------------------------------- 

¶4.  (C) Segudawood claimed the Tamil Diaspora would be a key
player in the upcoming elections.  He noted that the Tamil
Diaspora was hosting a conference on November 12-13 in
London, which 20 Sri Lankan-based minority leaders were
planning to attend.  Among the possible attendees were
Sivanesthurai Chandrakanthan a.k.a. Pilliyan (TMVP), Rauff
Hakeem (SLMC), Sampanthan (TNA), and Mano Ganesan (TNA).
(NOTE: Embassy is seeking a meeting with TNA leader
Sampanthan before he travels to London.  END NOTE.)  The
chairman described the diaspora as being divided into three
to four groups but that it generally fell in two categories
similar to the Tamil community in Sri Lanka: those who
supported the LTTE and those who opposed it.  Segudawood
believed the challenge for the coalition lay in bringing the
Tamil diaspora, the resident Tamil community, and the other
minority leaders together to win the elections.  The
influence of the Tamil diaspora would have a critical impact
in this regard. 

Presidential Election Strategy
------------------------------ 

¶5. (C) Segudawood discussed a strategy he believed might pull
votes from the president's United People's Freedom Alliance
(UPFA).  He hinted that perhaps two or more UPFA officials
were already prepared to switch allegiance to the new
coalition.  According to Segudawood, there were UPFA members
who were very displeased with the Rajapaksa regime and ready
to pull the plug on it.  If the opposition were able to win
over at least two UPFA members, Segudawood believed others
would be willing to do the same.  The SLMC chairman remarked
that the people were tired of hearing the president's
propaganda of "winning the war" as his chief political
accomplishment and centerpiece for the upcoming elections.
Given the current government's unpopularity with the Muslims
and Tamils, in order for the president to win, Segudawood
claimed that the president needed at least 75 percent of
Sinhalese votes.  He hoped with Fonseka as the coalition
candidate, the coalition could cut substantially into the
president's Sinhalese base.  At the same time, he claimed the
Tamil and Muslim minorities together comprised 1.5 million
votes and noted that the coalition's success depended on them. 

Comment
------- 

¶6. (C) Segudawood's comments indicate how complicated the
election situation is even before the president announces
whether a presidential elections will be held in the spring.
(NOTE: the president is scheduled to announce his decision at
the November 15 Congress of the SLFP.  END NOTE.)  The key
complicating factor at this point is General Fonseka, who
could split the Sinhalese vote and deprive the Rajapaksas of
their key issue of winning the war.  But Fonseka would be
very hard for the Tamil community to support, however much
they may dislike the Rajapaksas.  TNA leader Sampanthan, for
example, told us that he would support the Rajapaksas before
Fonseka as the lesser of two evils.  It is such complicating 

COLOMBO 00001019  003.2 OF 003 

minority factors, as well as other big issues such as
GSP-Plus and the U.S. Incidents Report that may be giving the
president pause in deciding whether to call early
presidential elections.  Some keen observers are starting to
believe that the president may wait another two years for the
next regularly schedule polls.  By then, presumably, the
political storms over GSP-Plus and the Incidents Report will
likely have passed in one way or another, General Fonseka may
have faded from the scene, and the international economic
situation will likely have improved with a potentially
positive impact on the Sri Lankan economy.  The political
landscape, therefore, would be very different from the
increasingly rocky one the president now faces. 

BUTENIS

 

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Latest comments

  • 0
    0

    Time panthan sam was ousted. Prabhakaran did a deal with MR; he ended up ashes. Panthan sam has done a deal with MR and now he is regretting it!!!

  • 0
    0

    Sampanthan must be one of a growing number of people kicking themselves today for judging a book by its cover. So, he is another dimwit who can be easily fooled by references to Idi Amin and Dictators and doesn’t have the presence of mind to ask why such things are said.

    If Sinhalese can be cursed with 200 odd fools to lead them over the cliff, why not the Tamils have a few of their own?

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