US embassy cable - 04COLOMBO244

OFFICIAL INFORMAL NUMBER 022 (02/12/04)

Identifier: 04COLOMBO244
Wikileaks: View 04COLOMBO244 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Colombo
Created: 2004-02-12 11:12:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: AMGT CE MV Elections Maldives Religious Freedom
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 000244 
 
SIPDIS 
 
OFFICIAL INFORMAL 
 
FOR SA/INS 
 
E.O. 12958:  DECL:  02/12/14 
TAGS: AMGT, CE, MV, Elections, Maldives, Religious Freedom 
SUBJECT:  OFFICIAL INFORMAL NUMBER 022 (02/12/04) 
 
 
Classified by Ambassador Jeffrey J. Lunstead for reasons 1.5 
(b) and (d). 
 
CONTENTS: AMBASSADOR'S WHEREABOUTS 
          INCREASING POLITICAL UNREST IN THE MALDIVES 
          GON MEETING WITH CBK/ELECTION OBSERVERS ISSUE 
          ARRESTS IN SRI LANKAN CHURCH ATTACK CASE 
 
 
AMBASSADOR'S WHEREABOUTS 
------------------------ 
 
1. (U) Ambassador will be traveling out of Colombo (but 
within Sri Lanka) from about noon on Friday till Monday 
afternoon.  He should be in cell phone reach during that 
period.  AID Director Carol Becker will be Acting DCM. 
Joe Novak and Dean Thompson will also both be in Colombo 
and reachable throughout the long weekend. 
 
INCREASING POLITICAL UNREST IN THE MALDIVES 
------------------------------------------- 
 
2.  (C) FYI.  According to several contacts, there are 
increasing reports (also see Colombo 181, and previous) of 
political unrest in the Maldives: 
 
-- During a February 12 phone conversation with the 
Ambassador, Minh Pham, UNDP Resident Representative for the 
Maldives, said that there are reports that the "active 
underground" is planning a large demonstration for February 
12 or 14.  Pham added that the Maldivian police are out in 
force and a 1-4 AM "restrictive travel order" was declared 
for the morning of February 12.  The UN is nudging up its 
security posture to "Phase I," according to Pham. 
 
-- As you have seen, we have copied SA/INS on our emails 
regarding Waheed Hassan, a Maldivian national working for 
UNICEF in Kabul.  He is a key figure in opposition circles 
and currently considering a return to the Maldives.  We are 
in the process of developing low-profile contact with him 
via Embassy Kabul based on an e-mail he sent to us recently. 
 
-- According to information from the opposition 
Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), two former GoRM 
officials have joined the MDP's ranks.  Ousted by 
President Gayoom during his November presidential 
inauguration cabinet changes, former attorney general 
Mohamed Munavvar and formed planning minister Ibrahim 
Hussain Zaki had been upset with some of the president's 
policy decisions. 
 
The Ambassador is scheduled to lead a Mission team to 
the Maldives around February 26 for the annual U.S. 
national day celebration.  (Although at the moment, 
there are no hotel rooms available.)  We will report 
more on the Maldivian situation and urge Washington to 
keep track, too.  (POL) 
 
GON MEETING WITH CBK/ELECTION OBSERVERS ISSUE 
--------------------------------------------- 
 
3.  (C) We participated in a local Tokyo co-chairs 
meeting hosted by Norwegian Ambassador Hans Brattskar 
late February 11.  During the meeting, some ideas were 
exchanged about the planned joint statement to be issued 
after the Feb. 17 meeting in Washington (we sent you the 
draft prepared by the Norwegians of this joint 
statement).  Brattskar, who left early this morning for 
the U.S. to attend the Feb. 17 meeting, related that he 
had met with President Kumaratunga that day.  She had 
underscored her support for the peace process and noted 
that she had had a good meeting with the new head of the 
SLMM, Trond Furuhovde.  (Furuhovde was the first head of 
the SLMM and has returned after the previous occupant of 
the slot, T. Tellefsen, was kicked out.)  She also took 
on board Brattskar's comments that the campaign should 
not be divisive, or it would damage the peace process 
and ceasefire, and alienate the LTTE.  Regarding his 
request that all parties work in a cooperative spirit 
after the April 2 election, CBK went on a long riff 
attacking PM Wickremesinghe (no surprise there!!). 
 
4.  (C) Election Observer matter and query:  By the way, 
the Dutch (who were at the meeting for the Irish who do 
not have a resident mission) and EU representatives said 
the EU was well in gear in terms of plans for getting 
observers on the ground in Sri Lanka eventually.  A team 
is due here later this month to look into security and 
other issues (the EU delegation here is particularly 
worried about what it considers rising xenophobia).  A 
meeting is taking place in Brussels on Feb. 17 to review 
the whole issue, including how big an EU team should be. 
In 2001, the team was quite large, as was the 
Commonwealth team.  EU-types have also met with Sri 
Lanka's Elections Commissioner, who indicated that he 
would welcome observers.  Also, just want to check and 
see if there has been any Department response on 
possible funding for election monitoring, as AID needs 
our dollar figure tomorrow (February 13) to move ahead 
with programming.  (POL) 
ARRESTS IN SRI LANKAN CHURCH ATTACK CASE 
---------------------------------------- 
5. (SBU) FYI.  The police have arrested ten or so people 
in connection with some of the recent attacks on 
Christian churches. The group are reported to have 
traveled around the country attacking Christian targets. 
At present, those arrested appear to be moving through 
the legal system.  There are also indications that some 
of the arrested were Buddhist monks, who have since been 
released on bail.  We will continue to look into this. 
(POL) 
 
LUNSTEAD 

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