20 October, 2017

WikiLeaks: US Skeptical About Ranil’s Claim That He Has Tremendous Grassroots Support

“In a November 22 meeting with the Ambassador, Wickremesinghe cited ‘tremendous grassroots pressure’ as preventing him from giving up the party leadership (Ref A). We are a little skeptical of this claim.” 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 discuses the UNP’s internal crisis after the 2005 Presidential elections. The cable is signed by the US Ambassador to Colombo Jeffrey J. Lunstead on December 25, 2005.

The ambassador wrote; “With so many electoral defeats at his feet, we expect the pressure among UNP organizers in the field, who have worked so long for so little reward, may be pulling in the opposite direction. That said, Wickremesinghe has displayed remarkable staying power and may well be able to navigate his way clear of this latest rough spot. Just as in the rival SLFP, family matters in the UNP, and the conservative party faithful may be reluctant to buck Wickremesinghe, the anointed heir to the legacy of the late great UNP president J.R. Jayawardene (his maternal uncle). Another point in Wickremesinghe’s favor: Karu Jayasuriya, the only likely immediate rival for the leadership, although a genial and well-respected politician, seems to lack the wiliness and competitive drive needed to rally the malcontented MPs behind him. Even if the rebel MPs do manage to bring their proposal before the party’s parliamentary committee–and that is a very big if–we doubt they will be able to muster enough support to keep Ranil from running again.”

Related stories to this cable;

WikiLeaks: Ranil Is A Perennial Loser As Well As A Perennial Survivor – US

We give below the relevant part of the cable;

--------
COMMENT
-------- 

¶7.  (C)  In a November 22 meeting with the Ambassador,
Wickremesinghe cited "tremendous grassroots pressure" as
preventing him from giving up the party leadership (Ref A).
We are a little skeptical of this claim.  With so many
electoral defeats at his feet, we expect the pressure among
UNP organizers in the field, who have worked so long for so
little reward, may be pulling in the opposite direction.
That said, Wickremesinghe has displayed remarkable staying
power and may well be able to navigate his way clear of this
latest rough spot.  Just as in the rival SLFP, family matters
in the UNP, and the conservative party faithful may be
reluctant to buck Wickremesinghe, the anointed heir to the
legacy of the late great UNP president J.R. Jayawardene (his
maternal uncle).  Another point in Wickremesinghe's favor:
Karu Jayasuriya, the only likely immediate rival for the
leadership, although a genial and well-respected politician,
seems to lack the wiliness and competitive drive needed to
rally the malcontented MPs behind him.  Even if the rebel MPs
do manage to bring their proposal before the party's
parliamentary committee--and that is a very big if--we doubt
they will be able to muster enough support to keep Ranil from
running again.
LUNSTEAD
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comments

  • 0
    0

    FOR GET ABOUT RANIL AND SAJITHIT IS LOOK LIKE UNP PARTY HAS IN DEED DEVIDED.
    I THINK RUWAN WIJEWARDANA SHOULD BE THE NEXT LEADER OF THE UNP.

  • 0
    0

    This is very old stuff happened in 2005.

  • 0
    0

    True. Ranil can`t expect tremendous grassroots support. This Premadasa creature is grazing the grass together with the roots at a tremendous rate.There will be no future for UNP unless you get rid of this Premadaasa buffalo.

  • 0
    0

    After 8 years from this document, the situation is still the same!

  • 0
    0

    UNP loosing not because of Ranil its started from Chandaka’s time due to corruption in election. Election result doesn’t show true result, its all rigged votes mostly bought from the voters, they stuff the ballot boxes.
    Sajith talk big he couldn’t win his electorate during last provincial election, not even Karu.

  • 0
    0

    mr Ranil and mr pramadasa not fit for party leader,

  • 0
    0

    Why is the LTTE disappointed
    with Ranil Wickramasinghe?

    by D.B.S. Jeyaraj

    The attempt made by the Liberation Tigers of
    Tamil Eelam to enforce a Tamil boycott of the
    Presidential elections will affect Ranil
    Wickremasinghe as the bulk of Tamil votes
    was expected to be cast for him. The LTTE –
    TNA press conference in Kilinochchi has made
    it clear that the tigers are in favour of a
    boycott. Earlier there were confused signals to
    that effect. Now it is in the open.

    A striking feature in the LTTE attempt to push for a boycott is its undisguised
    contempt for Ranil Wickremasinghe. There is subterranean anger rippling. Indeed the
    whole boycott exercise in the name of the people seems to be aimed at teaching Ranil
    a lesson he would never ever forget. It is almost like a lover’s quarrel because in
    popular perception there was a tacit alliance and understanding between Ranil and
    the tigers.

    Why is the LTTE pissed off about Wickremasinghe? The opinion of the TNA does not
    matter. Described often as tiger nominated agents by Douglas Devananda the TNA is
    simply a mouthpiece for the voice of the master!But why are tigers hostile to Ranil?

    The process of disillusionment with Wickremasinghe began from the time he was
    Prime Minister. The original understanding between the UNP and LTTE forged mainlt
    between ACS Hameed and Anton Balasingham envisaged an interim administration
    for the North – East under the LTTE. Hameed passed away but the UNP remained
    willing to set up an IA in principle.

    The LTTE was not happy about the slow progress in setting up an Interim
    administration during Wickremasinghe’s tenure as premier. It however accepted the
    UNP position that it was difficult to proceed because Chandrika Bandaranaike
    Kumaratunga was Executive President and also due to lack of two – thirds majority to
    change entrenched restrictive clauses of the Constitution.

    Kumaratunga’s dismissal of Wickremasinghe’s government and subsequent election
    strengthened the UNP view that she was the stumbling block.The LTTE concurred.
    Though the UPFA conducted a strong anti – tiger campaign Wickremasinghe was bold
    enough to include the setting up of an interim Administration in the party
    manifesto.The UNP lost but Kumaratunga was unable to govern due to the forces of
    racism she had unleashed.

    When it became clear that Presidential election 2005 was on the cards the LTTE
    adopted a low – key approach to help Wickremasinghe. It avoided identifying with him
    in any way because it felt such a link would be detrimental to him among Sinhala
    voters. The tigers were somewhat nonchalant about the elections and said they did
    not care. This made the coast clear for Tamil voters to back the candidate of their
    choice.

    The minorities particularly the Sri Lankan Tamils were happy about the ceasefire
    brought about jointly by Wickremasinghe. Rajapakse signed pacts with JVP and JHU
    and targeted the majority community votes at the expense of the minorities. He
    categorically ruled out the homeland, self – determination concepts and also the
    rejected P- TOMS. It was nothing but natural for the minority communities to back
    Ranil in such a situation. Besides there was always a tendency for Tamils to support
    the UNP in a situation where Tamil candidates were not contesting directly. This was
    more so among Colombo Tamils.

    Against such a backdrop Tamil votes were expected in massive numbers for
    Wickremasinghe independent of LTTE – TNA manipulation.. It was assumed that the
    TNA directed by the LTTE will come out openly in support for Wickremasinghe about a
    week before the election. It was also suspected that the LTTE would swing into action
    a few days prior to the poll and influence Tamil voters in favour of Wickremasinghe.

    Why did this not happen? It was mainly due to the LTTE perception that Ranil
    Wickremasinghe was not playing fair by them.Suspicion created during the 2001 –
    2003 period was further reinforced through some actions.

    Internationally Wickremasinghe and his deputies kept on cultivating the International
    community. This included visits to India and mention in sections of the Indian press
    that some understanding had been reached. An Indian connection real or imaginary
    makes the LTTE paranoid. The tigers were also harbouring a grudge about the
    Washington summit. It felt the UNP had set them up on that.

    Wickremasinghe was also harping on Tokyo and Oslo summit declarations. This was
    his “clever” way of dealing with the South. The onus was put on the International
    community. But this had a counterproductive effect. The LTTE felt that
    Wickremasinghe was trying to trap them in protracted talks on exploring federalism by
    way of Oslo resolution and adhere to benchmarks of democracy, pluralism, human
    rights etc in terms of Tokyo. The LTTE kept away from Tokyo to avoid such
    impositions and took up the position that the Tokyo declaration did not bind them. But
    Wickremasinghe was saying the opposite.

    Then there was the so called International safety net. It was felt that one reason for
    the failure of the peace process was excessive internationalisation by the UNP.
    Wickremasinghe was trying to convince Sinhala voters that concessions to the LTTE
    was not dangerous because the international factor was there to guarantee
    security,sovereignity , unity and territorial integrity of the Country. The tigers felt that
    this was anothr ruse to trap them and confine them to an unproductive, prolonged
    ceasefire.

    The international factor was seen as something altering the balance of powerin favour
    of the State. The tigers were also miffed by the silence of wickremasinghe on the EU
    travel ban.Thus the LTTE was getting suspicious that a second round of talks with
    Wickremasinghe as President would mean indefinite confinement to
    negotiations.Talks on the ISGa and possibly fedralism would go on and on while the
    movement was progressively weakened with international help.

    Domestically too Wickremasinghe was disappointing the tigers. His election manifesto
    excluded any reference to the Interim Administration or meaningful commitment to a
    federal solution. Concerned about Rajapakse’s appeal to the Sinhala constituency
    Wickremasinghe too was trying to pander to the same. While Mahinda was forthright
    about his stance Ranil was typically wishy – washy.

    Wickremasinghe also signed a 67 point agreement with Rauf Hakeem. Some of those
    included third party status for Muslims in the peace talks and a separate N- E council
    for the Muslims on the principle of non – contiguous territory. This was anathema to
    the LTTE. Besides important decisions such as these could not be taken without
    consulting the other party to the peace process. This was seen as another trick to
    stultify the LTTE.

    The UNP leader also spoke about striking a deal with bete noir Kumaratunga. A pan –
    Sinhala government was also talked about. The tigers could not stomach the notion of
    Wickremasinghe’s tete – a – tete with Kumaratunga after projecting her as the “enemy”
    so far to the LTTE. The LTTE antipathy towards her is very real.Also a re- alignment
    of Sinhala parties meant a “Sinhala Consensus”. Such consensus can only result in
    further dilution of any political settlement.

    Notwithstanding all these “prickly issues” the LTTE may still have played ball with Ranil
    if the UNP was prepared to grant two things. One was the setting up of an Interim
    authority without too much haggling. The second was a thorouh disbanding of so
    called paramilitaries including the Karuna faction. It soon became apparent to the
    LTTE that these were impossible.

    The ISGA would not have any meaningful powers desired by the LTTE. The Muslim
    card will be used to undermine it. The Supreme Court on P- TOMS demonstrated that
    even if granted an ISGA will not be allowed to function. As for the Karuna faction it had
    now become integral to the politico – military machinations by the state in the East.
    Wickremasinghe would not be allowed to concede on Karuna even if he wanted to.It
    was also felt by the LTTE that Wickremasinghe was not going to push anything
    decisively or firmly .

    The tigers were also unhappy with the conduct of Wickremasinghe;s campaign. If
    Rajapakse was hard – selling the Sinhala line Wickremasinghe was soft – selling it.
    Ranil was not making strident anti – Tamil or anti – tiger remarks but he was not
    making any pro – Tamil statements either. If one is genuinely keen about some issues
    then one must have the courage of convicyion to articulate those the LTTE felt.

    In an attempt to overtake Mahinda he was also pandering to Buddhist sentiments in a
    clumsy manner. Writing books on Buddhism on the eve of his campaign and
    promising the world’s tallest Buddhst monument etc were some of thewse. It was
    becoming increasingly clear to the LTTE that both Wickremasinghe and Rajapakse
    were two sides of the same coin. The LTTE felt that both were the same in substance
    and only the styles differed.This is incorrect but that was the tiger perception.

    Wickremasinghe in LTTE perception was the dangerous of the two. Rajapakse was
    bluntly direct in his stance. The world at large knew he was a hardliner and that if
    elected war was on the cards. But Wickremasinghe’s image was that of a peace loving
    man ready to do business with the LTTE. If Wickremasinghe came to power and
    continued his “slipery” politics world opinion would be with him if war broke out. But
    with Rajapakse the LTTE had the moral high ground. If war erupted the international
    factor would back Wickremasinghe. The position was unclear with Rajapakse in the
    saddle.

    The biggest problem for the LTTE was to avoid a repetition of the Kumaratunga
    phenomenon in the case of Wickremasinghe. In 1994 she had swept to power as an
    angel of peace with the overwhelming support of the Tamil people. It was an uphill
    task for the tigers to destroy that image. Now Wickremasinghe was fast acquiring a
    prince of peace image among the Tamil people. It was necessary to preempt
    that.From a tiger perspective the Tamil people had to be shaken free of such illusions.

    Any hesitation by the LTTE was removed by Wickremasinghe himself when he went to
    Palaly on Nov 3rd. He confined himself to the security forces alone and did not meet
    the Tamil people. Even Rajapakse had a token meeting with a captive Tamil audience.
    Ranil did not. When asked about meeting Tamils he “arrogantly” said that he knew the
    Tamil people’s problems via telephone calls and leters etc. Furthermore he spoke
    about modernising the army. Ranil also boasted about 23 LTTE ships being
    destroyed during the ceasefire.

    This was the proverbial last straw. On Nov 5th Balakumaran came over the air on
    “Voice of Tigers” and pitched in. The point he made was that Rajapakse and
    Wickremasinghe were the same as far as the Tamil issue was concerned.
    Wickremasinghe was more dangerous because he pretended to be a moderate.
    Some Tamil people too were confused. As such the people had to be informed about
    Ranil’s true colours. The presidential election was of no importance or relevance to
    the Tamil people in this situation.

    The floodgates opened after Balakumar’s outburst. Wickremasinghe is criticised as
    unreliable, crafty and duplicitous. The comments of Dissanaike and Moragoda about
    Karuna, ceasefire, loss of LTTE ships, trapping the LTTE, international community etc
    are helping LTTE propagandists to justify their position. It must be remembered that
    Dissanaikes speech made on Nov 3rd was reported only on the 7th. Moragodas
    interview appeared on the 9th. But Balakumar’s comment made on the 5th was
    circulated all over the “Tamil world” on Nov 6th. So comments by the UNP stalwarts
    are strengthening the LTTE argument now but the cause for tiger resentment of
    Wickremasinghe was earlier and different.

    One thing however is that the claims purportedly made by Moragoda and
    Dissanayake cannot be new to the LTTE. If there is merit or validity in those
    arguments then the LTTE must surely have known it long ago. The tigers are not
    kittens who opened their eyes only after these revelations. The tiger mouthpiece
    “Tamilnet” however is going to town with its angled accounts of those comments

    Basically the LTTE is disillusioned and disappointed with Wickremasinghe. It must be
    understood that the manifesto and conduct of Wickremasinghe’s campaign was not
    enough for the LTTE to support it openly without losing credibility in the eyes of the
    Tamils. But if the TNA was allowed by the LTTE to negotiate with the UNP the situation
    may have been different.The Tamil case has suffered through default. It also appears
    that Wickremasinghe blundered by taking the Tamil votes for granted.

    It is however a moot point whether the call for a boycott – direct or indirect – will help
    the LTTE in the long run. It is possible that a Wickremasinghe defeat made possible
    through a tiger boycott would strengthen the victor Rajapakse in an unimaginable
    manner. It is one thing for war to erupt due to a Rajapakse victory despite the Tamils
    voting for Wickremasinghe. It is totally different if Rajapakse wins because of a tiger –
    inspired Tamil boycott. The LTTE should give much thought to this .

    Current TamilWeek

Leave A Comment

Comments should not exceed 300 words. Embedding external links and writing in capital letters are discouraged. Commenting is automatically shut off on articles after 10 days and approval may take up to 24 hours. Please read our Comments Policy for further details. Your email address will not be published.