US embassy cable - 04COLOMBO88

Potential alliance between radical JVP and the President's party causes concern over political impasse

Identifier: 04COLOMBO88
Wikileaks: View 04COLOMBO88 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Colombo
Created: 2004-01-16 06:41:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PGOV PREL PINS CE Elections LTTE
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 COLOMBO 000088 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPARTMENT FOR SA, SA/INS; NSC FOR E. MILLARD 
 
PLEASE ALSO PASS TOPEC 
 
E.O. 12958:  DECL:  01-16-14 
TAGS: PGOV, PREL, PINS, CE, Elections, LTTE - Peace Process, Political Parties 
SUBJECT:  Potential alliance between radical JVP and the 
President's party causes concern over political impasse 
 
Refs:  Colombo 73, and previous 
 
(U) Classified by James F. Entwistle, Deputy Chief of 
Mission.  Reasons 1.5 (b,d). 
 
1.  (C) SUMMARY:  A long-negotiated accord between the 
Sri Lanka Freedom Party and the extremist, Marxist 
Janantha Vimukthi Peramuna party is scheduled to finally 
be signed on January 20.  There is little information on 
the exact nature of the proposed accord and how it 
addresses the on-going peace process with the Tigers. 
The proposed SLFP-JVP alliance is not being welcomed by 
Tamil politicians.  The result of such an alliance on 
the PM-President political impasse is not clear, but 
will likely serve to increase the President's political 
leverage and would indicate that elections are in the 
cards.  END SUMMARY. 
 
2.  (U) ACCORD FINALLY SCHEDULED FOR SIGNING:  A long- 
negotiated accord between the Sri Lanka Freedom Party 
(SLFP), the major constituent of the Opposition People's 
Alliance (PA) and the extremist, Marxist Janantha 
Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) party is scheduled to finally be 
signed on January 20.  A January 14 press release, in 
the name of the Maithripala Sirisena, SLFP general 
secretary, and Tilvin Silva, JVP general secretary, 
 
SIPDIS 
defines the impending SLFP-JVP linkup, resulting from 
ten months of discussions, as a "historic political 
alliance," that is "essential to resurrect the country." 
According to the release, Sirisena and Silva will sign 
the pact for their respective parties, at a reportedly 
elaborate ceremony be planned for the morning of January 
20. 
 
3.  (C) There is little information on the exact nature 
of the proposed accord:  reports refer to an anticipated 
memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the two 
parties, but it is not clear what that would encompass. 
During the recent discussions between the two parties, 
major disagreements regarding a final resolution to the 
conflict with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam 
(LTTE) have kept the SLFP and JVP from reaching an 
agreement.  President Kumaratunga, and her SLFP, 
supports the idea of a devolution of power in a final 
negotiated resolution with the Tigers.  The JVP has long 
rejected such a solution and remains a frequent 
antagonist of the current peace process.  In a January 
16 conversation, Vijitha Herath, JVP MP, told us that 
the JVP still advocates some power sharing at the 
provincial level only, but that both parties supported a 
country-wide referendum to determine the ultimate 
solution for the conflict.  Also on January 16, Dinesh 
Gunawardena, PA MP, confirmed Herath's comments to us, 
saying that the JVP had agreed to a negotiated political 
settlement with the LTTE, to be finalized in a national 
referendum. 
 
4.  (C) At the least, the alliance will be an electoral 
one with a unifying political symbol and banner.  The 
combined parliamentary strength of the two parties -- 
the SLFP's 72 seats plus the JVP's 16 seats -- will 
still be less than the government's United National 
Front (UNF) majority of 114 parliamentary seats.  While 
there is no public call from either the SLFP or JVP for 
national elections at the moment, the alliance will most 
likely strengthen both sides going into the April 
Provincial Council elections. 
 
5.  (C) OPPOSITION FROM TAMIL POLITICIANS:  The proposed 
SLFP-JVP alliance is not being welcomed by Tamil 
politicians.  In separate January 16 conversations, N. 
Raviraj and Gajen Ponnambalam, Tamil National Alliance 
MPs from Jaffna, expressed to us their opposition to the 
SLFP-JVP alliance and ensuing worry over the peace 
process.  Raviraj predicted that the Tigers will not 
favor the JVP's terms for a solution and that the 
President and her SLFP will be the losers in the end. 
Concurrent with the announcement of the alliance, 
however, the LTTE has come out publicly in continued 
support of the ceasefire.  The pro-LTTE website 
"TamiNet" reported that during a January 13 meeting with 
Norwegian special peace envoy Erik Solheim in London, 
LTTE theoretician Anton Balasingham stated that the LTTE 
reiterated its commitment to maintaining the ceasefire. 
LTTE political leader S.P. Thamilchelvam relayed the 
same message to Norwegian Ambassador Hans Brattskar 
during Brattskar's January 13 visit to the Tigers' 
stronghold in Kilinochchi, also according to press 
reports. 
 
6.  (C) COMMENT:  The SLFP and JVP have publicly 
announced imminent dates several times in the past 
months for the finalization and signing of their 
alliance.  This latest announcement is the most serious 
and, according to our contacts, almost certain to occur. 
Should the accord get signed on January 20, the effect 
on the on-going political impasse between the President 
and Prime Minister is worrisome, since the pact strongly 
increases the chances of parliamentary elections.  While 
the President remains committed to the peace process, it 
is not clear how she will honor her publicly stated 
intent to resolve issues with the PM in the wake of her 
new political leverage.  END COMMENT 
 
7.  (U) Minimize considered. 
 
LUNSTEAD 

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