US embassy cable - 04COLOMBO258

OFFICIAL INFORMAL NUMBER 024 (02/17/04)

Identifier: 04COLOMBO258
Wikileaks: View 04COLOMBO258 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Colombo
Created: 2004-02-17 11:16:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: AMGT CE MV 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 000258 
 
SIPDIS 
 
OFFICIAL INFORMAL 
 
FOR SA/INS 
 
E.O. 12958:  DECL:  02/17/14 
TAGS: AMGT, CE, MV, Elections, LTTE - Peace Process 
SUBJECT:  OFFICIAL INFORMAL NUMBER 024 (02/17/04) 
 
Classified by DCM James F. Entwistle for reasons 1.5 (b) and 
(d). 
 
CONTENTS: SRI LANKA ELECTION UPDATE 
   -    TALES FROM THE TIGERS 
-    DCM BACK 
-    THANKS 
 
SRI LANKA ELECTION UPDATE 
------------------------- 
 
1.  (C) Sri Lanka is focused on all the little nuances 
of the electoral campaign.  The following are some of 
the latest nuggets: 
 
-- Today, February 17, is the official opening date for 
nominations for the April 2 parliamentary elections. 
Candidates have through February 24 to turn in 
candidacy paperwork. 
 
-- The Prime Minister is scheduled to address the 
nation on television tonight.  Not sure if he will say 
anything dramatic (the reports we get say not), but we 
will call you if he does. 
 
-- The confusion regarding Milinda Moragoda's 
resignation as Minister of Economic Reforms has cleared 
up (see Colombo O/I 23).  It is now official that 
Minister K.N. Choksy has assumed stewardship of 
Moragoda's former ministry. 
 
-- There are unconfirmed reports that Ronnie de Mel, a 
senior MP for the People's Alliance (PA), may again 
switch political allegiance and return to the UNP.  De 
Mel is a well-regarded moderate in the PA and his 
return to the UNP fold after some years would be good 
news to the PM.  De Mel apparently has had a falling 
out with the President over the JVP alliance.  Some 
other PA MPs are also reportedly mulling over joining 
the UNP. 
 
-- Wimal Weerawansa, senior MP for the Marxist Janatha 
Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), has retracted recent comments 
that had the JVP rejecting the ceasefire agreement with 
the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).  (Polchief 
and poloff plan to meet with the JVP's top leaders on 
February 19 to discuss the election campaign.) 
 
-- The Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC), headed by 
Muslim Affairs Minister Rauf Hakeem, has decided to 
contest the election independently from the Prime 
Minister's United National Front (UNF) coalition. 
Although the SLMC will not be running under the UNF 
banner like it did in the December 2001 parliamentary 
elections, the group will likely support the UNP in 
forming a government should the UNP win this April. 
 
-- February 17 news reports are that Christian Affairs 
Minister John Amaratunga has been sacked by President 
Kumaratunga.  We have been unable to confirm the 
reports.  (POL) 
 
TALES FROM THE TIGERS 
--------------------- 
 
2.  (C) The LTTE is also getting involved in some of 
the campaign action.  The following are details of the 
Tigers recent doings: 
 
-- A February 17 news report quotes Tiger political 
chief S.P. Thamilchelvam as saying that the main 
parties in the south -- UNP, SLFP -- have no place 
campaigning in the north/east Tamil "homeland." 
 
-- Recently sacked Hindu Affairs Minister T. Maheswaran 
has announced that he is not running for reelection in 
the upcoming parliamentary campaign.  Maheswaran was 
the only Tamil representing the UNF to be elected from 
the Tamil-majority northern province during the last 
election.  In connection with Thamilchelvam statements 
(mentioned above), Maheswaran was most likely 
"encouraged" by the LTTE not to seek reelection. 
 
-- The parties under the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) 
umbrella are having difficulty in using their chosen 
election symbol and color:  rising sun and yellow/red 
of the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF).  In a 
political dispute between the TULF's anti-Tiger leader 
V. Anandasangaree and other pro-LTTE TULF party 
members, Anandasangaree has warned his party that using 
the TULF symbols will violate a court order preventing 
party decisions without the leader's consent.  The TNA 
(minus Anandasangaree) plans to meet February 17 with 
Thamilchelvam and other Tiger officials to decide on a 
final election symbol.  (POL) 
 
DCM BACK 
-------- 
 
3. (U)  FYI - Jim returned to Colombo early Monday 
morning from FSI training in Washington. 
 
THANKS FOR HARD WORK 
-------------------- 
 
4. (C) We received State 33404 on "Providing 
Assistance in LTTE Areas" on Friday, and want to thank 
everyone who contributed in the long battle to get 
this done. We know how difficult it has been.  We are 
beginning preliminary consultations here on how to 
implement this, focusing both on what we want to get 
done and on due diligence to make sure we are safely 
within the bounds of law and policy. 
 
LUNSTEAD 

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