Peace and Conflict

On Democratic Innings

According to a front page article in the Daily Mirror on the 19 March 2007, titled “Mangala calls on democratic forces to rise against ‘emerging tyranny’” ex- Minister Mangala Samaraweera is calling on all political and civil organizations to rally behind him to come forward against the undemocratic triumvirate;

Mr. Samaraweera told the Daily Mirror yesterday that even the UNP and the SLFP as democratic political parties could be a part of that exercise. … “Not only political parties but also civil society organizations and other individuals can come forward against this dictatorship,” he said.

The ousting of the three ministers and the flurry of activities thereof has been fascinating. Anura Bandaranaike managed to work himself into the fold but the other two have not. The question is why not? Were they asking too much? Or were their capabilities as irritant ex-ministers undermined? If the ruling powers knew that the duo would walk out with so much knowledge about the inside would it not have been better to keep them within the fold, (assuming that the allegations they make can be proved)? So as an outsider one wonders what the incentives were, covert and overt, to get the two back into the government and why things didn’t work out.

Mr. Samaraweera and Mr. Sooriyarachchi have made a series of serious allegations against the government, ranging from a pact between the LTTE and Mahinda, the US and Gotabaya and most recently of the MiG 600 million scandal. These allegations might be baseless, and are heavily dependant on the evidence yet to be provided by the two ex-ministers. The US-Gotabaya deal seems however, to refer to the deal that ex- Prime Minister Mr. Ranil Wickremasinghe made with the US, and if this is the case then it’s much ado about nothing.

Politically these allegations come at a time when the UNP has also thrown the gauntlet and given the government three months notice, the JVP is agitating about the situation but there is not much that they can really complain about because the military effort of the government is moving ahead, unabated. The JHU meanwhile has made a valid point that I would like to highlight in the context of the article in the Daily Mirror. The JHU asks the two ex-ministers why these allegations were not brought to the public before.

It’s been one and a half years since Rajapakshe came into power and these deals, if they did happen should have been exposed then… before the Presidential elections of 2005. Other corrupt dealings should also have been brought out earlier, not just when knowledge about it could be used for blackmail and for protection when Ministers are in difficulties. Why were these grotty facts not brought out before?

Today with Sripathy Sooriyarachchi behind bars, Samaraweera faces a Rajapakshe who is flexing his muscles, and he remembers the other political parties and the civil societies that should be protecting democracy in this little island, inspite of the politicians.

The question to ask is why didn’t he remember to protect democracy one and a half years ago? Was he not a senior Minister in the SLFP, was he less accountable then? Had he not been ousted from the Parliament would he ever have made these allegations?

One wonders how many more pleas for democracy one will hear in the months to come from disgruntled undemocratic authorities.