The Mahinda Rajapaksa government on Tuesday announced that a committee of representatives would be appointed to clarify and counter the statement made by the former Army commander, General Sarath Fonseka, to the Sunday Leader newspaper making serious charges against Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa.
Media Minister Lakashman Yapa Abeywardena told media that the reported statement of the former Army Chief, who is the main opposition parties’ common candidate in the January 26 presidential poll, was highly derogatory in nature and caused irreparable damage to the image of the country.
He said General Fonseka’s conduct was unbecoming of a presidential candidate.
Obviously, the government has decided to move further on the subject though on Monday the commander-turned-politician went back on his controversial statement that the Defence Secretary had instructed a ground commander to kill the LTTE leaders who wanted to surrender.
Differences in TNA
With less than 48 hours to go for the filing of nomination papers for the January 26 presidential election, gaps within the Pro-LTTE Tamil National Alliance (TNA) became evident following M.K. Sivajilingam’s intention to fight the polls as “independent” Tamil candidate though the TNA is yet to finalise its strategy. The camps led by President Mahinda Rajapaksa and the major opposition parties’ consensus nominee, retired General Sarath Fonseka, have been assiduously seeking the TNA’s support.
Observers here believe that the TNA is headed for a split though the actions of various factions might have no bearing on the mind of the Tamil voters on the polling day.
The Jaffna MP’s move is a reflection of the confusion that has gripped the TNA after the death of the LTTE leader in the Eelam War IV.
It is torn between the ground realities faced by Tamils and sections of the diaspora that is experimenting with grandiose ideas like “trans-national Eelam”.
The divisions between the TNA and the sections of the diaspora were seen in far away France. While the TNA leadership was grappling with immediate concerns like the welfare of the nearly 2.9 lakh war displaced and the line they should follow in the election, sections of the diaspora were holding referendum on the so-called right of self-determination for Tamils.
A report on TamilNet on December 14 noted, “31,148 eligible Eelam Tamil Diaspora voters over 18 in France participated this weekend in the referendum to say yes or no to independent and sovereign Tamil Eelam and 30,936 of them have said yes”.
The Jaffna MP’s defiant action is a setback for those hoping to bring about a semblance of unity among the minorities and make use of the leverage in the election to promote the interests of Tamils and Muslims especially with regard to the solution to the ethnic conflict.