Federation of National Organizations (FNO) spokesperson, Dr. Gunadasa Amarasekera, yesterday (7), cautioned the current political leadership as regards on-going talks between the government and the Tamil National Alliance (TNA).
Referring to the top TNA leadership, having talks with Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, at his official residence, immediately after attending a meeting at Temple Trees, boycotted by all other political parties, Dr. Amarasekera said that the government should be mindful of overall post-war TNA political strategies.
Asked whether nationalist groups opposed talks between the government and the TNA, Dr. Amarasekera said that there was no harm in having negotiations. The government, or any political party, reserved the right to enter into a dialogue with a party/group, the FNO spokesperson said. Having repeatedly promised to protect the country’s unitary status, in the run-up to the last presidential polls in Nov 2019, the current leadership however, couldn’t go back on that promise.
Responding to another query, Dr. Amarasekera pointed out the recent high-profile TNA declaration that it no longer endorsed LTTE terrorism meant that the grouping was making a serious effort to reach a consensus with the government. “Former lawmaker and TNA spokesperson M.A. Sumanthiran, PC, wouldn’t have inadvertently rejected the LTTE,” Dr. Amarasekera said, pointing out that both TNA leader R. Sampanthan and the UK-based Global Tamil Forum (GTF) endorsed the former MP’s declaration.
Dr. Amarasekera urged the government to be careful in its dealings with the TNA. Having declared the LTTE as the sole representative of the Tamils, in 2001, the TNA stood steadfastly with Velupillai Prabhakaran, until the very end, in May 2009, Dr. Amarasekera said, warning the government not to betray the trust of 6.9 mn people reposed on wartime Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
The Illankai Thamil Arasu Kadchi (ITAK) led TNA backed Sajith Premadasa at the last presidential poll, Dr. Amarasekera reminded the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP), urging the leadership not to follow an agenda that may disappoint the Southern electorate. “President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, himself, on more than one occasion, appreciated the support extended by the Sinhala community that ensured his victory at the presidential poll,” Dr. Amarasekera said.
The renowned writer emphasized that the TNA could be seeking an understanding with the government against the backdrop of the gradual weakening of its position in the North. The split in the UNP, too, obviously influenced the TNA’s move to initiate negotiations with the government – certain to win the parliamentary polls, Dr. Amarasekera said. The PNF leader also pointed out that Prof. G.L. Peiris, Chairman of the SLPP, too, had been present when the former TNA parliamentary group visited Premier Rajapaksa, at his official residence.
Now that the TNA had declared it didn’t approve of LTTE terrorism, or armed struggle, as they called it, the government should ask the TNA to explain its stand on the Geneva resolution, Dr. Amarasekera said.
Both the previous yahapalana administration and the TNA couldn’t absolve themselves of the responsibility for the Geneva betrayal, Dr. Amarasekera said, warning of dire consequences in case the political considerations influenced decision-making process at the expense of the national interest.
Commenting on TNA leader Sampanthan’s recent letter to Premier Mahinda Rajapaksa, requesting him to spearhead a fresh initiative to introduce a new Constitution, Dr. Amarasekera recalled how the previous government engaged in a disastrous exercise to replace the 1978 Constitution. Pointing out that the Geneva-backed process was meant to do away with Sri Lanka’s unitary status, Dr. Amarasekera alleged that the UNP cunningly involved all political parties, including the then Joint Opposition (JO) in the project. In spite of repeated warnings, the JO remained in the parliamentary process until the project collapsed, with President Maithripala Sirisena quitting the government, in late Oct 2018, Dr. Amarasekera said.
Wimal Weerawansa’s National Freedom Front (NFF) quit the UNP-led process, in July 2017, over a year before the then President Maithripala Sirisena sacked Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe, Dr. Amarasekera recalled.
Dr. Amarasekera said that Western powers engineered Mahinda Rajapaksa’s defeat at the 2015 presidential polls, having failed in 2010, to defeat the war-winning President. The same lot made an abortive bid to defeat Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Dr. Amarasekera said, urging the government not to forget the recent past.
“Those who challenged Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s nationality, in the run up to last presidential polls,are still around. The TNA is part of that project, though its master Velupillai Prabhakaran is dead,” Dr. Amarasekera reminded.
Responding to another query, Dr. Amarasekera said that he wouldn’t be surprised even if the TNA promised to work with the SLPP. Having denounced the LTTE terrorism quite sensationally, the TNA was clearly ready for an unprecedented move, the nationalist leader said. The TNA seemed to be making a well calculated move to achieve, what the LTTE couldn’t with its conventional military power, coupled with terrorist attacks, Dr. Amarasekera said. The TNA was likely to make the fresh constitutional making process an issue ahead of the 2020 parliamentary polls, Dr. Amarasekra warned.