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Sri Lanka's Political Crisis Unresolved
PRESIDENT CHANDRIKA Kumaratunga's attempted semi-military coup against the United National Party (UNP) Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe appears to have boomeranged back against her. She has not been able to split the UNP MPs and get some to back her party, the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP). Instead she has been forced to take some steps back. It has even been denied that she ever imposed a state of emergency.
Nevertheless, despite the situation not being as bad as it could have been, there are still great dangers of renewed communal tensions involving the Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims living on the island.
Chandrika's move was based upon again exploiting the national tensions in Sri Lanka to strike back at the UNP.
The justification for her move were signs that negotiations could restart between the UNP government and the Tamil Tigers in an attempt to end Sri Lanka's 20-year long civil war that has cost nearly 70,000 lives.
At different times both the UNP and SLFP have exploited the ethnic divisions in Sri Lanka. The civil war started under a UNP government and Chandrika was originally elected President in 1994 on a "peace" ticket.
The rank and file of Sri Lanka's armed forces and police are not happy at all. Due to a ceasefire there has been no fighting for nearly two years now and they do not want to resume hostilities.
However the military tops are supporting Chandrika and this is leading to tensions in the ranks. But the big imperialist powers, Britain and the US, along with the regional imperialist power India, are against Chandrika's move as they hoped that a settlement could be reached.
After some delays Chandrika finally broadcast to the country on November 7, her speech was aimed at foreign powers. She spoke in English and there was an hour's wait for the Sinhalese translation.
The United Socialist Party (CWI, Sri Lanka) has issued statements and leaflets denouncing Chandrika's attempted coup and undemocratic measures; calling for the peace negotiations to resume while explaining that only the working class can solve the communal and social problems that have gripped Sri Lanka for generations.
In The Socialist 15 November 2003: