Sri Lanka's President faces Hobson's choice - Sunday Leader

[TamilNet, Sunday, 16 November 2003, 13:14 GMT]
In a scathing editorial criticising Sri Lanka's President for endangering the peace process by her "precipitate and stupid" actions of proroguing the parliament and sacking the Defense, Interior and Communication Ministers, the Sunday Leader, a popular weekly published in Colombo said, "Ms. Kumaratunge now faces Hobson's choice: "She cannot preserve the status quo and govern; neither can she call an election and hope to come close to victory.""

Members of Parliament (MPs) from United National Front (UNF) government crossing over to Peoples Alliance (PA), as Ms.Kumaratunge expected, did not materialize thwarting her plans to form her cabinet with a Parliament majority. The editorial described Ms.Kumaratunge's predicament thus, "...when - indeed, if - parliament meets on November 19, it is in the government's gift to cut off funds to Kumaratunga's ministries (except defence, of course). It is also in the government's power to bring bills into parliament to privatise Rupavahini, SLBC, ITN and Lake House, forcing Kumaratunga to release her Goebellsian stranglehold on the state media. It is moot now as to who will move the budget votes for defence, internal affairs and media, given that there is no minister or deputy minister in parliament."

chandrika_kumarathunge_9-p.jpgBy attempting to form an alliance with the marxist, ultra-nationalist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), she has alienated herself entirely from the minorities, the editorial pointed out. "A general election now will see the Tamils voting en bloc for a single party, whether the TNA, the LTTE or a hybrid thereof - ditto the Muslims and the hill country Tamils. This will see the so-called minority parties walk off with about 45 seats, leaving the 'Sinhalese' parties with 180 seats between them. In this scenario, it is inconceivable that either party can win the 113 seats needed for a parliamentary majority, which means that future government will only be possible through coalition with an ethnic - probably Tamil - party. That has been the net result of Kumaratunga's attempts to defend the realm," the paper argued.

The paper accused Ms.Kumaratunge of placing her self-interest first, and pointing to an August 4th exposure of a document that contained plans to overthrow the UNF government, the paper said, "...the events of November 4, therefore, had nothing to do with national security, as is now abundantly clear: they were only to do with the insatiable and voracious greed of the Bandranaikes for power at any price."

Sunday Times editorial also agreed with the above view. While saying that Sri Lanka can ill afford another election, the Sunday Times said, "...she must take cognizance of the fact that were she to go ahead with the dissolution of Parliament option, she would be doing so in the face of the fact that she would be dissolving a Parliament where the clear majority has not asked for a dissolution and served only two of the six years mandated to be in office.

"Doing so would not only be unprecedented, but enjoin her in the galaxy of constitutional tricksters of Sri Lanka's contemporary history...and in these past few days she has done U-turn after U-turn, calling the Armed Forces to co-operate with the notorious monitors of the SLMM, whose head she beheaded; pledged to abide by the Ceasefire Agreement which she termed illegal; and asked the Prime Minister to continue with the same peace process which she said was a sell-out of the Nation's sovereignty."

Referring to the Norwegian Deputy Foreign Minister Vidar Helgessen's press briefing before the Norwegian delegation left Sri Lanka placing the Peace Process on hold, the Sunday Times editorial said, "Suddenly, reality has dawned on her that it is one thing to play politics, another to play stateswoman. The parting shot by the Norwegians would not have been well taken. There is no need to de-code their message - clearly, they blame the President for the breakdown of the peace process."


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