Sri Lanka politics and commentary

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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Fonseka Arrest- Political Implications.

Ret. Gen Sarath Fonseka was arrested by the military police, on at his residence on charges of politicking while in uniform. It is laughable to see those who attempted to hang Fonseka during the war are now crying foul and demanding his release.
Lets leave the legality of the situation aside and see the political implications.

At the time of his arrest Fonseka was not at his height of favorability. His enraged and foul mouthed speeches and hesitation to accept defeat gracefully, has taken a heavy toll on his likability. Therefore it is hard to see that the public outcry would develop against the government. The people who are questioning Fonseka's arrest , were one time against him and were with the LTTE lobby; therefore it would be easy for the government to label those who question the arrest as allying with LTTE lobby and discredit them.
This indicates that there is no direct impact on the government-UPFA fraction by this arrest. How about indirect implications, or the implications on the opposition parties?

It was reported that at the time of his arrest Fonseka was attempting to forge a broad opposition alliance to contest for the parliamentary elections. His presence in the opposition is a grave threat to Ranil Wikaramsinge's UNP leadership. RW is already unpopular in his party, Fonseka's admittance to UNP would have severely thretened his future as the UNP leader. Therefore RW was taking all nessary steps to keep him away from UNP. Fonseka was awarded deputy leadership of UNF and even a national list appointment to the parliament. Fonseka has refused this offer and indicated that he is willing to contest from his home district of Galle. This would have created worries in RW protege and aspiring deputy leader of UNP Wajira Abewardena, as this means he has a fight to retain his No.1 position in the Galle district preferential vote. This again would have threatened RW, as Fonseka would have most likly gathered a greater percentage of preferencial votes that RW, and would implicate that he is the most popular leader in the opposition.
This broad opposition coalition would have allowed JVP to contest with the UNP and other opposition parties; as happened in 2004 this would mean many JVPer getting parlimentay seats by UNP votes and UNP contesntants loosing their possible seats. This issue was also reportedly discussed in UNP meetings and it was disided that If JVP wants to join the alliance they had to run under the elephant symbol and only one JVP candidate per district would be allowed. With Fonseka out of the secen there is no one to lobby for a UNP-JVP alliance, UNP Mps who were scared of loosing their seats for JVP members might be breathing a sigh of relief.
These factors show that removal of Fonseka from the political arena is benificial for the UNP leadership and even for the low level MPs, as their positions would be secured.

The JVP stands to loose most form this incidence, as indicated above as there is no one else to lodge a strong campaign for a UNP-JVP alliance, they would have to contest alone under the "Bell". It was also reported that as the UNP-JVP alliance was seemingly unlikely they were contemplating on contesting under "Hare" symbol with a small coalition, with Fonseka as the leader. With his departure this coalition is also meaningless and only option is contesting alone.
It was revealed during the past provincial elections and the presidential elections the JVP's voter base has severaly eroded and if they were to contest alone they would at best get two seats one from Hambantota and the other from Anuradhapura. This means all most all JVP stalwarts , like Anura Kumnara Dissanayaka, Vijith Herath and Sunil Hadunhtti would loose their seats. The thorn in the eye would be the JVP breakaway fraction JNP; will be getting nominations under UPFA and are likely to retain most of if not all of their seats.
The photo above was supposedly taken, at the moment of Gen Fonseka being arrested, the helpless expression on the faces of JVP leaders says a lot about their future.
As this analysis shows it its clear that the government cannot gain any political milage from this arrest, but they would not loose much popularity either. On the other hand the UNP stands to gain most from it and it spells the end of JVP.


  1. In fact whether it brings any advantage to the political parties depend on how it is going to be played out though I agree that most likelihood is that no great harm to the Government or no great benefit to the Opposition would occur.

    If the people are convinced of genuineness of the case then the Opposition's refusal to level play will cost the Opposition dearly. In that case if the Opposition agrees with the genuineness of the case then equally big loss or even a bigger loss can occur to the Opposition.

    For example if UNP declared that the LTTE was not defeated there would have 5% of people believe that version. Then the Opposition would have got only 5%
    That is the only reason that Ranil acknowledged the defeat of the LTTE.

    It depends on the peoples' perception to the genuineness.

    EVen if there is strong perception of genuineness of the case among the voters still there would be people who would believe UNP version. Just admission to the genuineness may cause UNP to loose some of these vots.

    I think if the Government can convince the voters its genuineess it will be a big loss to the Opposition.

  2. War of WarLords

    Question has risen on the ethics of arresting and prosecuting Ex. General Sarath Fonseka (SF). There are some who thinks we should let him go on the basis of the service he has done to the country. There are others who think he deserves the treatment he got based on treason he has committed or he is going to commit. The biggest question is, if we are prosecuting SF, what about others who have already committed wrong doings in Sri Lanka? We all know Sri Lanka is a very corrupt nation. Is this a case of prosecuting a criminal or taking a revenging on someone who has potential political power in Sri Lanka in the future?
    The answer to this question varies since many different interest groups have their own opinion. Based on what is happening in Sri Lanka, this is a prosecution by choice due to the fear of SF. That fear is both political and what he knows as far as crime against humanity is concerned.
    Sri Lanka has created number or warlords due to the military culture we had to develop to get rid of LTTE. This is not a battle for the national interest. This is the battle among warlords. Therefore, when one warlord tries to take down another, what should the general public do?
    I'd say, we need to protect and preserve warlord culture. This is the only way we can prevent creation of a super warlord. Therefore we should all campaign for SF and ask the government to let him go. Cut a deal with SF not to testify against UN for his freedom and civil rights. At the end, we can offer him the multi million rupee SUV he deserves and did not get it with the mansion to park it.
    Let the liberation of General Sarath Foneska begin.

    "A warlord is a person with power who has both military and civil[1] control over a subnational area due to armed forces loyal to the warlord and not to a central authority. The term can also mean one who espouses the ideal that war is necessary, and has the means and authority to engage in war. The word has a strong connotation that the person exercises far more power than his official title or rank (if any) legitimately permits him or her. Under feudalism, in contrast, the local military leader may enjoy great autonomy and a personal army, but still derives legitimacy from formal fealty to a central authority."