Sri Lanka President suspends parliament, troops in streets
A gloves-off political fight between Sri Lanka’s president and prime minister that threatens a fragile peace process with Tamil rebels sparked concern in Washington and neighboring Asian countries.
Sri Lanka’s President Chandrika Kumaratunga sacked three ministers on Tuesday and suspended parliament, drawing a furious response from Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe who said her surprise move was aimed at undermining efforts to heal Sri Lanka’s racial divide and would spread “chaos and anarchy.”
This is currently a featured story on news.google.com, unusual indeed for a story about Sri Lanka, which is generally given little notice by world media.
The President appears to be using fears that the insurgent Tamil Tigers will gain their own nation as a pretext to inflame the Right and thus solidify her own power – this from a friend who has spent several years there working for a peace organization.
A few years back the CIA said the Tamil Tigers were the most effective terrorist organization on the planet. They’ve been fighting since the 70’s and tens of thousands are dead. Their army of 10,000 consistently clobbers the vastly larger Sri Lanka army, and they control serious chunks of the country.
My friend tells me this is a complicated mix of ethnic groups, the caste system, and economics with minority Tamils opposing the majority Singhalese, and lower caste Tamils doing much of the insurgent fighting – while everyone else ducks for cover. He feels the underlying cause is the politically fragmented Singhalese needing an external enemy to unify them.
Two things stand out here. 1) The President said she is reacting to threats that occurred within the past few days, yet there is no news to indicate what this might be, 2) This is making world headlines, unusual for this island nation.
Sri Lanka government paper