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Chandrika regrets sacking UNP Govt in 2004

The former president terms the sacking of Ranil Wickremesinghe's government in 2004 as a big mistake, reports PK Balachandran.

india Updated: Nov 12, 2006 19:09 IST

In an interview at a critical juncture in Sri Lanka’s history when the country seems to be sliding into war, former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga has said that she made a big mistake by sacking the pro-peace United National Party (UNP) government led by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in 2004.

“It was wrong,” Kumaratunga told the editor of Sunday Leader Lasantha Wickrematunge.

“It was the JVP and those in my party who were keen to win the elections and take office who pushed me to dissolve (parliament),” she said.

The JVP (Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna) is a Sinhala ultra nationalist party which had been in alliance with Kumaratunga’s Sri Lankan Freedom Party (SLFP) and which remains one of the main pillars of support for the government of the present President Mahinda Rajapakasa.

The JVP has been a strong advocate a hard line on the ethnic question, the Tamil Tigers and the international community including peace broker Norway.

The exit of the Wickremesinghe government in April 2004 led to the strengthening of the hard liners in Sinhala and Tamil politics, and the exacerbation of the ethnic and armed conflict in the country.
Asked if she thought it was wrong to have aligned with the JVP, Kumaratunga said: “Quite definitely.”

She said that the forging of an alliance with the JVP and the subsequent dissolution of parliament in 2004 were among the three most critical errors she had made in her decade long Presidency.

She refused to spell out the third and the “single biggest mistake” but said that it was currently relevant and that it would “reverberate for generations.”

Rajapaksa “hates me”

It is quite clear that the person she dislikes most is the current President Mahinda Rajapaksa but she blames it on Rajapaksa.

“For some reason President Mahinda Rajapakse has decided to harass me continually,” she said before she went on to complain bitterly about how he had scaled down her security drastically.

“I asked him at the first Central Committee meeting of the party we had just after I retired, if Chandrika Kumaratunga was his worst enemy more than Prabhakaran (the LTTE leader).”

“I am going to write a socio-political analysis of the Rajapakse family’s attitude towards the Bandaranaikes as a political scientist.”

“I have been agonizing trying to understand Mahinda’s hatred of me,” she said.

“ As for my security, it has been dangerously jeopardised by the defence authorities,” Kumararatunga said.

To show the sorry state of security in her new official residence in Colombo Sunday Leader carried pictures of the house with broken windows.

First Published: Nov 12, 2006 15:51 IST