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President is running out of time as ICC and UN bang on his doors

by Pearl Thevanayagam

(July 11, London, Sri Lanka Guardian) Most corrupt leaders give themselves a decent interval of at least a couple of years before they descend into dictatorial mode and ensconce their family members in positions of power. But President Mahinda Rajapaksa came pre-packaged and ready to distribute the wealth of the nation to his family and he already had a head-start on this.

To this day there is no accounting for the US$ 183,000 Treasury approved fund he obtained for Helping Hambantota, a charity to help Tsunami victims in his constituency. For an obscure law practitioner in the outback of Tangalle until he became prime minister on April 06, 2004, his meteoric rise to presidency was envied by long-standing contender to presidency Ranil Wickremasinghe, the opposition leader.

Once he took office he quickly distributed key cabinet portfolios with gay abandon among his relatives with his eldest brother Chamal as speaker, younger brother Gotabhaya as Defense Secretary, son Namal and another brother Basil as MPs. His nephew Shashindra Rajapakse is chief minister of Uva Province and cousins Jaliya Wickremasuriya ambassador to US and Udayanga Weeratunga to Russia. His brother-in-law Nishantha Wickremasinghe is the chairman of Sri Lankan Airlines.

His re-election was mired in mass scale vote-rigging and never in the island’s history has there been such blatant disregard for the rule of law, transparency and accountability and the violation of democratic principles enshrined in the constitution in the form of arbitrary detention and arrests, extra-judicial killings and other forms of suppression of fundamental human rights.

This alone was not enough for the President. He also surrounded himself just to be doubly sure he is firmly ensconced for his lifetime as the despotic leader following his victory on the 35 year old scourge of LTTE terrorism which earned him a name in the annals of Sri Lankan history as ethnic cleanser, with sycophants in the names of Dayan Jayatilleke and Rajiva Wijesingha, who would jump through burning hoops to stay in positions of power and remain the puppets on Mahinda’s strings; their earlier dismissal as UN ambassador and SCOPP chairman respectively not withstanding.

The credentials of these puppets as well as former journalists who yearned for diplomatic perks and were rewarded for their years of prostituting their journalism for diplomatic perks in the form of dis-information counsellors leave a lot to be desired. While Dayan managed to obtain an obscure doctorate and dilly dallied with Tamil militants through whose influence he managed to obtain guerrilla training in Central America, Rajiva was parachuted as Dean of Sabaragamuwa University with his prancing about on the stage in Lionel Wendt citing Shakespeare and of course riding on the back of his father Sam Wijesinghe’s tenure as ombudsman and chairman of the Human Rights Commission.

But all good things must come to an end as we have witnessed in recent times in the Arab world, Sreberinca, Cote D’ Ivoire and Rwanda. Leaders such as Adolf Hitler, Saddam Hussein, Bin Laden, Pirabakaran et al truly believed they were invincible not unlike our President whose international and domestic policies are the diktat of the Rajapakse clan with his puppets lying for him abroad.

The mother of all lies was that no civilians were killed in the war two years ago and Rajiva then turns the lie on its head and admits some 5,0000 civilians could have been killed. Now would anyone with even minimum IQ buy his canard?

Then the erudite Legal eagle and former VC of Colombo University Prof. G.L.Peiris proclaims that the UN is co-operating with the Sri Lankan government in its investigations even as UNSG is preparing to investigate in detail Channel 4 video Killing Fields and his panel report.

Some in the cabinet with their half-baked or no knowledge of international rule of laws even go so far to proclaim that ICC (International Criminal Court) cannot touch Sri Lanka.

Hosni Mubarak waited several decades before he was booted out of his reign as the ultimate leader. Other examples are Charles Taylor of Liberia now languishing in the detention centre of the ICC (International Criminal Court) which comprises 12 cells on the premises of the Scheveningen branch of Haaglanden Penal Institution in The Hague along with five other alleged African war criminals.

In the case of Sri Lanka which pats its own back that it had not acceded to the Rome Statute the ICC can subject even states to co-operate with it specific cases.

The ICC collaborates very closely with the UN Security Council and its mandate to bring war criminals to justice has been proven by its success as stated above.

Apart from international calls for the government to justify killing civilians in their thousands (the exact numbers will never be known) and other atrocities locally the President is ignoring warning signals of total discontent among his populace the majority of whom are Sinhalese.

The clock is ticking for the Royal Family’s demise but how graciously would the government let go of its reign?

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