Sinhala opposition to Sri Lanka peace effort mounts
[TamilNet, Wednesday, 15 January 2003, 15:32 GMT]
Opposition to Sri Lanka’s peace process gathered
further momentum as a new Sinhala nationalist
organisation comprising powerful opposition
politicians and Buddhist monks wowed Wednesday to
agitate for separating the northeast into two
provinces. Agitation by Sinhala nationalists to
de-merge the northeast would be another spanner in the
works for Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s effort
to negotiate peace with the Liberation Tigers to end
two decades of armed conflict that has ravaged the
Former Sri Lankan PM and People’s Alliance
MP, Mr. Ratnasiri Wicramanayaka addressing the
For more than five decades, Tamils have been demanding
regional autonomy for the island’s northeast as a
single geographical unit. The Liberation Tigers said
last month they are stepping down from their demand
for a separate state to consider a federal system of
autonomy for the northeast province, which the Tamils
say is their traditional homeland.
Opposition leader, Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksha MP, former
Prime Minister, Mr. Ratnasiri Wickramanayaka MP, the
leader of the Sinhala nationalist Mahajana Eksath
Peramuna (MEP), Mr. Dinesh Gunawardena, the Governor
of the Wedstern Province, Mr. Alavi Moulana, and the
doyen modern Sinhala nationalist ideology (Jathika
Chintanaya), Dr. Gunadasa Amarasekera, were among the
large gathering at the inauguration of the
‘Organisation to Protect the Motherland’ (OPM) in
Maradana, near downtown Colombo Wednesday.
| Opposition leader Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksha in
conversation with Ven. Elle Gunawansa at the
inauguration of the OPM.
Speaking at the function, chief convenor of the OPM,
the powerful and politically influential Buddhist
monk, Ven. Elle Gunawansa, said that the main
objective of the organisation would be to campaign for
the de-merger of the Northeastern Province. He said
that the Northern and Eastern Provinces were merged
under the Emergency Regulations in 1987 and that the
merger is no longer valid because the Emergency has
Ven. Elle Gunawanse said that Mr. Douglas Devananda,
the leader of the paramilitary group, the EPDP, an
ally of President Chandrika Kumaratunga had expressed
his support for the OPM’s objective. The priest said
that Mr. Devananda could not attend the inauguration
as he was abroad.
Ven. Elle Gunawansa was a confidante of former Sri
Lankan President Ranasingha Premadasa. His temple in
Colombo draws powerful Sinhala politicians,
businessmen and political power brokers.
Addressing the meeting former Prime Minister, Mr.
Ratnasiri Wickramanayaka, said the most important
matter at this time is to stop the permanent merger of
the northeast. “We have all joined together for that
purpose”, he said.
The influential ex-general secretary of the United
National Party, Mr. Sirisena Cooray, the leader of the
Sihala Urumaya, Mr. Tilak Karunaratna, the Sinhala
nationalist thinker and columnist, Dr. Nalin de Silva,
the leader of the ultra nationalist Sinhala
Bhoomiputra Party, Harischandra Wijetunga and a large
cross section of opposition MPs were also present at
| ( L-R) Leader of the Sinhala Bhoomiputra Party, Mr.
Harischandra Wijetunga, lighting traditional oil lamp
at the inauguration of the Organisation to Protect the
Motherland (OPM) Wednesday.