MonitorsPublished on Oct 13, 2008
In response to India's (more particularly Tamil Nadu's) overtures to stop the Sri Lankan offensive against LTTE in their northern stronghold, President Mahinda Rajapaksa made it clear that his government was not going to stop its war against the Tamil Tigers midway, especially when its forces were just two kms short of Kilinochchi.
South Asia South Asia Weekly 41

Sri Lanka
< class="maroontitle">Sri Lanka asserts its sovereignty

< class="maroontitle">In response to India’s (more particularly Tamil Nadu’s) overtures to stop the Sri Lankan offensive against LTTE in their northern stronghold, President Mahinda Rajapaksa made it clear that his government was not going to stop its war against the Tamil Tigers midway, especially when its forces were just two kms short of Kilinochchi. In an interview to a  senior Indian correspondent, the President clarified that he understood the concerns of the Indian Tamils towards the sufferings of  Tamils in Sri Lanka who were used by LTTE as a ‘human shields’. He said he was keen on a politically negotiated solution but would not bow down to terrorism. Other political parties support Rajapaksa’s stand and have criticized India’s interference in the internal affairs of Sri Lanka. In India, the resignation threat by 14 Tamil MPs might pull down the Manmohan Singh government, at least six months before the next general elections were due in India

< class="maroontitle">Differences emerge among top rank Maoist leaders
The tussle and ideological differences among the top rank leaders of the CPN (Maoist) is getting more visible. While Party Chairman, Pushpa Kamal Dahal (Prachanda) and senior leader Dr Baburam Bhattarai remain committed to a multi-party political system, the hardliners within the party, senior Maoist ideologue Mohan Baidya, head of the party’s International Department C P Gajurel and few others are pushing for a ’People’s Republic’.  Both Prachanda and Bhattarai, quick to learn from their short exposure and experience to international diplomacy, have understood that in the changed global political scenario, the party would find it difficult to run the government and acquire developmental assistance from the international community. The agenda of seeking a multi-party system is part of this strategy. They have assured people’s participation in nation-building activities. Bhattarai revealed that the party was also thinking of removing the ’Maoist’ tag and rename the party during the general convention to be held in the second week of November.
These moves have invited criticism from other senior leaders like Baidya who opposed the move to change the party’s name and the plans for multi-party system. He insisted that the party had no such plan to change its name but said the party could change its name. It is apparent that the Maoists top leaders are divided on the party’s future agenda and roadmap. There appears to be an indication of tussle between the top brass Maoist leadership. The hardliners, who form a majority, are pushing hard for a ’People’s Republic’. On the other hand, Prachanda, advocating ’Democratic Republic’, is leading a marginalized section and trying hard to consolidate his base within the party.

< class="maroontitle">Demand to withdraw Emergency

As elections for the National Parliament come near, the demand for lifting Emergency is getting stronger. The political parties, mainly Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and its rightwing allies namely, Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), have threatened to boycott the elections unless Emergency is withdrawn. To convince BNP and its allies, the military-backed caretaker government held talks with these political parties but with no positive outcome. Awami League (AL), one of the influential political parties, also declared that it will participate in the elections only when its President Sheikh Hasina was discharged from the cases filed against her. Hasina is on bail and under going treatment abroad.

International pressure is also mounting on the government to withdraw Emergency before the elections. European Union has decided not to send its election monitor unless Bangladesh withdrew Emergency. United Kingdom  urged Bangladesh to lift Emergency and ensure participation of all political parties in the elections.

< class="maroontitle">Anni’s remarks boomerang

< class="maroontitle">Maldivian Democratic Party candidate Mohammed Nasheed Anni’s seems to be spoiling his chances by making irresponsible remarks which has dented his image among the public. People are already skeptic about Anni’s lack of experience in governance.   Addressing the public while campaigning for the second round of elections scheduled for  October 28, Anni declared that if elected, he would hold the elections half way before the completion of his 5-year term prescribed in the Constitution. It is still not clear what kind of bargains have been struck between the Opposition partners and the MDP in lieu of their collective support in favour of Anni but such utterances on the eve of elections would only make people wary of the potential coalition capabilities to hold the country united. Already there are concerns about Anni’s lack of experience in the government. Added to this is the counter-campaign by Gayoom and his supporters who have expressed their displeasure about the latest Opposition move of calling elections mid-way by citing it as a “crime” against Constitution which specifically states that whoever is elected as the President must complete his five-year term.
< class="maroontitle">Zardari’s China visit

< class="maroontitle">President Asif Ali Zardari made his first visit to China, Pakistan’s most trusted ‘all-weather’ ally on October 14. With foreign exchange reserves precariously standing at $7.7 billion and some $4.5 billion needed to remain solvent,  Zardari’s primary motive in visiting Beijing was to secure $3 billion aid (Saudi Arabia is yet to respond to Pakistan’s request for oil facility), and encourage Chinese investment and cooperation in nuclear energy generation. China on the other hand wants to consolidate influence over Pakistan to offset the growing warmth between US and India, boost trade and also engineer a  pathway to Central Asia. Bilateral trade between the two countries stands at $7 billion and is expected to rise by $15 billion by 2011. Zardari, who signed 12 agreements, memorandums of understanding and protocols in the field of trade, investment and infrastructure, along other disciplines, has promised ‘preferential treatment’ to Chinese investors.

< class="maroontitle">Contributors:

      • Anjali Sharma                 – Sri Lanka, Maldives
      • Joyeeta Bhattacharjee – Bangladesh
      • Paul Soren                       – Nepal, Bhutan
      • Kaustav Chakrabarti     – Pakistan
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