|Wikileaks:||View 04COLOMBO244 at Wikileaks.org|
|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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