As soon as Ranil Wickremesinghe assumed the post of Prime Minister in June 2020, he invited the Speaker of the Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed, to come to Sri Lanka. He came to Sri Lanka and met Ranil. Ranil immediately appointed Nasheed as a mediator to get foreign aid to solve Sri Lanka’s economic crisis. After that, there was no news about Nasheed.
Opposition member Harsha de Silva said that Nasheed told him that when Nasheed spoke to the prince of Saudi Arabia to seek aid for Sri Lanka, he refused to give aid. Nasheed later denied Harsha’s claim. Anyway, after that there was no news about Nasheed. Now after Ranil became President, another international figure has been found to replace Nasheed. He is the former minister of Norway, Erik Solheim. Eric Solheim is an old friend of Ranil’s. 2002 Prime Minister Ranil deployed Eric Solheim as a mediator to negotiate peace with the LTTE organization.
Ranil lost his premiership in 2004 because of Solheim’s peace process. Ranil lost again in the 2005 presidential election because of Solheim’s peace process. At that time, the United People’s Freedom Alliance led by Mahinda Rajapaksas accused Ranil of betraying the country and Solheim of giving money and support to the LTTE to divide the country.
At that time, the popular political slogan in Sri Lanka was that the Ranil-Solheim Norway alliance would divide the country together with the LTTE. Mahinda and Rajapaksas who accused Ranil, Norway and Solheim in the same way have today made Ranil the president. Those who know the relationship between Ranil and Norway think that as soon as Ranil becomes president, Norway will again play a big role in the international community for Sri Lanka, but Norway decided to close the embassy in Sri Lanka.
As soon as Ranil became president, Norway decided to close the embassy in Sri Lanka because Sri Lanka is no longer a country of special importance to Norway. Ranil has appointed Erik Solheim as his advisor after Norvey decided to closed the embasy in Sri Lanka. Solheim took the position of advisor from Ranil and went straight to meet Mahinda. Solheim embraced Mahinda and Mahinda expressed his happiness that Solheim was Ranil’s advisor.
Mahinda recently said at the Kalutara Podujana Peramuna meeting that Ranil is now on the right path. Not only Ranil but also Solheim has now come to the right path as Mahinda ses. There are similarities between Ranil and Solheim. Like Ranil, Solheim is a rejected figure in his country’s politics. Ranil suffered a crushing defeat in the 2020 general election and also lost his parliamentary seat. Solheim and his Socialist Left Party suffered crushing defeats in successive elections.
Due to this, in 2012, Solheim also lost the position of Minister of Environment. The party itself accused Ranil of destroying the U.N.P., which he leads. Solheim was accused of ruining his party by going to solve problems in foreign countries. The only difference is that even though Ranil lost, he did not give up politics. Solheim retired from politics in 2012. In 2016, Solheim was appointed Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme. When he applied for the position, he got it. After the 2020 defeat, It was rumored that Ranil also wanted that go for a post in the United Nations, but Ranil did not apply for such a post.
Solheim did not stay long at the United Nations. He was accused of misusing UN funds for foreign travel. Investigations revealed that he spent the money of the United Nations organization illegally and went to countries to see his girlfriends. It was the countries funded the United Nations that pressured him to be removed. Finally, when audit reports proved Solheim’s misuse of funds, the UN Secretary General told him to step down. He quit. This is a shame for Norway. Because of this, Solheim became unpopular in Norway as well. After this, no one came forward to give Solheim a job. Ranil has now given a job to his old friend.
During Solheim’s tenure at the United Nations, he released reports that the Chinese Belt and Road project and Chinese investments in Africa did not harm the environment, surprising the Western countries including the United States. Previously, Solheim was a favorite in Western countries, including the United States. Later he advocated for China. Ranil also previously appeared as a friend of Western countries and as soon as he became president, he allowed a Chinese spy ship to come to Sri Lanka amid their opposition.
As Mahinda says, not only Ranil but also Solheim have chosen the right path. Solheim is also an adviser to Mahinda’s president today. Ranil appoints as his advisers the candidates who contested and lost in the 2020 general elections from the United National Party. Solheim was also a rejected politician in Norway. Although he intervened in Sri Lanka’s peace efforts, his party did not even get the vote of the Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora living in Norway.
By Upul Joseph Fernando