MonitorsPublished on Nov 24, 2008
On his 54th birthday, LTTE supremo Prabhakaran made the Heroes Day speech even as the Kilinochhi, the de facto administrative capital of the Tigers is within an arms reach of the Sri Lankan Army. The speech lacked assertive tone
South Asia South Asia Weekly 47

Sri Lanka
< class="maroontitle">Prabhakaran termed India as friend, asked for support

On his 54th birthday, LTTE supremo Prabhakaran made the Heroes Day speech even as the Kilinochhi, the de facto administrative capital of the Tigers is within an arms reach of the Sri Lankan Army. The speech lacked assertive tone and it merely highlighted the plight of the Tamils under Sinhala nation. He however, acknowledged that the war has been forced upon them by the Sinhala government and that they don’t want a war. He also expressed his willingness to talk for negotiations. Further, he thanked India and the leaders of the Tamil Nadu for their continuous support to the freedom struggle and requested international community to lift ban on those Tamil charity organizations who are working for humanitarian purposes. Unlike his earlier speeches, no big claims have been made by Prabhakaran in his speech.

Before and after the speech had been made by the LTTE chief, Sri Lanka remained on high alert. Just five minutes before the speech, Sri Lankan Air Force destroyed 2 LTTE radio communication centers at Paranthan. It was also reported that the people in the North rejected the celebrations to mark the Chief’s birthday. In fact, Prabhakaran has himself asked his cadres to cancel his birthday celebrations. Overall, the entire affair remained low-key and shorn of any important announcement. Mumbai terror attacks further overshadowed the importance of Prabhakaran’s Heroes Day Speech.

< class="maroontitle">Maoist leadership crisis averted

Following a week long intense internal debate and discussion, the CPN-Maoist central leadership was able to resolve the differences and avert the party from further splitting. The six-day national cadre’s meet of the party concluded in Bhaktapur, by adopting a new party strategy. The two proposals put forward by party Chairman Prachanda and senior leader Mohan Baidya ’Kiran’ were discussed elaborately by the 1200 senior cadres including the Commanders of the People’s Liberation Army. Several of the cadres rallied behind Prachanda and supported his policy document but suggested that central leadership should evolve a single document by merging the two.
Apparently, the party evolved a new document, which is a combination of separate policy documents presented by Prachanda and Baidya. In the new document, the party adopted a new slogan of ’People’s Federal Democratic National Republic by accommodating both the moderates and radicals viewpoints. The new strategy also aims to institutionalise the democratic republican order as this would further give impetus to the party’s main objective to move gradually towards achieving the ultimate objective of the People’s Republic. Therefore, the newly emerged strategy has averted the spilt and further strengthened the party unity.

< class="maroontitle">Elections rescheduled

To ensure participation of all political parties the Election Commission (EC) in Bangladesh deferred the date of the elections to the National Parliament to December 29 2008.  Previously, December 18 was fixed for the date of holding national parliamentary election. Election date had to be rescheduled as Bangladesh National Party (BNP), one of the most dominant political parties declined to participate in the elections unless the poll date was deferred.  Immediate fallout of this was BNP’s declaration to participate in the election ending all speculations about the future of elections. Participation of all political parties was necessary for credibility of elections.

Awami League (AL) though accepted the changed date and agreed to participate in the elections but expressed doubt that this might be the government’s policy to prolong the state of emergency in the country. Also AL suspects that elections might be engineered and election result might be turned around. 

Meanwhile, the government is contemplating on withdrawing emergency. Hossain Zillur Rahman an advisor of the caretaker government said that no parliamentary election will be held keeping the state of emergency in operation.  Pressure is increasing on the government to withdraw emergency. The UN election monitor who visited the country expressed their concern over the state of emergency and urged the government to withdraw emergency before elections. EC also requested government to take necessary measure in this regard for holding free and fair election and this is also one of the major conditions of BNP. In the present situation it is assumed that the country is all geared for the polls.

< class="maroontitle">Powerless Gayoom stand dejected and deserted

Barely a days after he left power being at the helm of the state affairs for more then 30 years, ex-President Gayoom find himself surrounding with all kinds of accusations ranging from misappropriation of public funds to crime, as petty as theft. A group of Majlis MPs accused Gayoom of stealing property from the presidential palace while on his way out which Gayoom vehemently denied. If the Majlis would have its way, the poor president will not even allow having his pension and other state benefits. The Bill for providing pension and housing to the ex-president is fiercely being debated in the Majlis whereby a section of MPs is against providing such benefits to those ex-presidents who are still active in politics, a direct reference to Gayoom. Perhaps that is the reason why Gayoom has lately handed over all his official duties to his vice-presidential candidate Thasmeen Ali refuting his earlier claims of being the anchor of his party during parliamentary elections due next year. It also seems that even his trusted colleagues are leaving him one after the other. Mohamed Nasheed, former media savvy Information Minister of the Gayoom regime who never got tired defending his prez and his policies, recently gone on record saying that it is time for DRP leader Gayoom to step down and call for a leadership contest.   

< class="maroontitle">Echoes of Mumbai terror attack

< class="maroontitle">In the aftermath of the deadly terrorist strike in Mumbai, ties between India and Pakistan are on the brink of collapsing to their lowest level since the Parliament attack in December 2001. President Zardari was quick to condemn the attack, even going to the unprecedented level of offering to send ISI DG Lt. Gen. Shuja Pasha to Mumbai. However after much deliberation, Islamabad decided to backtrack on the commitment and has instead agreed to send a representative instead.

As in the case of the Parliament attack, tension between the two nuclear armed rivals threatens the US led Global War on Terror that is being waged on both sides of the Durand Line. Pakistan has hinted at pushing troops fighting pro-Taliban forces in FATA to the eastern front, in a hope that this would force the US to intervene in the region once again.

< class="maroontitle">Contributors:

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


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