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Sunday 3 June 2012

The beginning of the end of Sarath Fonseka’s politics

Sarath Fonseka has been released on a Presidential pardon and nobody would have expected him to go back to the private hospital where he was being treated. However, it is clear that had he been not pardoned by the President he would most probably have been be in the hospital at least for a couple of days more. Anyhow, we are glad that he is now back at home and hope that he and his wife would look after his health, more than ever. However, even if he is healthy his political days are limited and the countdown has already begun with respect to his political life.

Sarath Fonseka was a good soldier feared by the enemy as well as by the rank and file and he made his contribution towards the victory over the LTTE under the overall military leadership of the Defense secretary and the political leadership of the President. The fact that he was made the commander of the army by the President on the advice of the Defense Secretary gives ample testimony to the political and military insight of the President and the Defense secretary. Though there may have been better commanders than Sarath Fonseka, they did not have the luxury of the political leadership of the President Mahinda Rajapakse and nobody could take the credit from the President for defeating Tamil terrorism. If not for the President even with the best commander ever to live on the planet Prabhakaran would still be in Kilinochchi or Medavachchi according to the UNP.

At the Presidential elections Fonseka was chosen as the candidate of the common opposition on the advice of the west as he was the better candidate who could challenge the President. Ranil Wickremesinghe did not contest most probably because he was advised if not forced by the Americans to refrain from contesting. The President had defeated the LTTE, and the opposition needed a person with nationalistic leanings to contest the Presidential elections. Whether one likes it or not nationalism had become the main force, it is not a case of nationalism over determining as said by postmodernist pundits, and had Ranil Wickremesinghe contested he would have gained less votes than Sarath Fonseka. Of course we cannot go through this experiment to find out my predictions are true, and my arguments are based on nationalism that was the main factor that operated during the 2010 Presidential elections. The fact that Fonseka obtained less votes in 2010 than what Ranil Wickremesinghe obtained in 2005 was due to different political conditions prevailing at the two elections. In 2005 Mahinda Rajapakse was the underdog but in 2010 after defeating the LTTE in May 2009 he was at the height of his popularity. If there was a person who could have defeated Mahinda Rajapakse in 2010 it was he himself. It should be remembered that in 2010 TNA was forced by the west to support Sarath Fonseka, in spite of him claiming that Sri Lanka is the country of the Sinhala people.

2010 was the election between Mahinda Rajapakse and the west in many ways. The west was eager to defeat Rajapakse and they chose Sarath Fonseka as their candidate over Ranil Wickremesinghe. Without most of the Sri Lankans knowing many things had happened between May 2009 and the Presidential elections in 2010. As we had said towards the end of 2009 the west had already cooked up the white flag story and when Sarath Fonseka visited USA in the latter part of 2009 there was a case against Fonseka and Gotabhaya Rajapakse in an American court of law which many have forgotten by now. At one of the discussions during the news broadcast, held over the National Television on the 2010 Presidential elections I mentioned this fact and that Fonseka had been “pardoned” and made a “crown witness” so that charges on war crimes could be framed against the President and the Defense Secretary. The “white flag incident” had been mentioned by Fonseka at meetings held in Amabalngoda and Ratnapura, of course attributing it to a journalist, and it was clear to us that the west was planning a course of action against Mahinda Rajapakse even if he were to become the President against the wish of the western countries, with the help of Sarath Fonseka. It was at that time we advocated that Sarath Fonseka should be taken into custody and frame charges against him. The law officers waited till the Presidential elections were over and took Fonseka into custody. It was not because Sarath Fonseka was the opposition candidate that he was taken into custody but for different reasons. However the government failed to convince the masses that Fonseka was taken into custody for reasons other than being the common opposition candidate at the Presidential elections. The Wikileaks announced recently the liaison between the American Embassy and Fonseka and what we had said more than two years ago was not off the target.

In any event Fonseka was convicted and imprisoned and he has withdrawn his appeals against one charge and against the martial court decision against “white flag incident”, and the pardon does not make him innocent. By withdrawing his appeals, irrelevant of the circumstances under which he did so, he has accepted the verdicts of the courts including that of the martial court, and he is guilty of the offences. There would have been more serious charges that could have been brought against him under the light of Wikileaks revelations but the law officers have not proceeded for some reason or other. It may be that Wikileaks information cannot be used in juristic proceedings.

As it appears that the President has given him a free pardon without any conditions, Fonseka may be free to contest elections under Articles 34(2) and 89 (d) of the Constitution of the Republic. However in spite of the celebrations by some over his release, his importance has already begun to diminish. It is a gedera giyoth ambu nasee maga hitiyoth tho nasee (if he goes home the wife will decease and if he remains on the road he will decease) situation for him. If he joins Sajith Premadasa faction of the UNP (it is very unlikely that the Ranil faction would tolerate him) and they form a coalition with the JVP and dance according to American and English tune, he will attract only the ridicule of the people. In the very unlikely event that he joins the Ranil faction and they form an alliance with the TNA his departure from politics would be accelerated and there would not be many people to pay him bonanza. In any event he could think of becoming the leader only with the Sajith faction forming a new party, as even if Ranil agrees for sake of argument, the UNP constitution will not make him the leader, if he were to join the Ranil faction.

In the event he joins the government as a partner of the giant alliance with Tiran Alles and Arjuna Ranatunga, he will be under pressure from the Americans and his life would be miserable as he would be separated from his two daughters. The Americans know how to apply pressure and I would not be surprised in such an eventuality he would find himself on the other side of war crime charges in a so called international court of law or an American court of law. After all he was the commander of the Army when the supposed war crimes were taking place and it would not be easy for him to get a pardon from the Americans and The English by joining the government. The life, I am afraid is not going to be easy for Sarath Fonseka under the circumstances and it is difficult to imagine an alternate course of action in the Parliamentary game of politics. Sarath Fonseka would realize that politics is hazarder than warfare as in politics nobody is sure who is the boss, whereas in military the commander is always the boss. It is surely the end of the beginning of Sarath Fonseka’s politics. May he enjoy his freedom meanwhile, he and his beloved wife taking care of his health.

Copyright Prof. Nalin De Silva