Will Chinese ‘research ship’ wreck Geo political stability further?
Can Ranil present an election-year budget with IMF regulations?
No LG elections, will the same plight fall on other elections?
Is ‘Uddika drama’ the beginning of similar dramas?
The first United Nations General Assembly meeting attended by Mr. Ranil Wickramasinghe after assuming the office of President was a very successful one, but when discussing it in the political arena, many people call this summit as one that was held in the middle of many international disorders and one that created many new international confusion.
In the beginning, it had become an international firestorm based on the Chinese ship ‘Yuan Wang 6’, which was scheduled to arrive in Sri Lanka. India, America and Japan have already protested against it, and the fact that the Chinese ship has entered the Indian Ocean region despite that protest is a crisis. The other crisis was the President’s visit to Cuba, which is a strong anti-American country. The President went to Cuba to participate in the ‘G77 Plus China’ international conference hosted by China. It was the position of many that the President’s American trip had a negative start by participating in what is considered to be an anti-Western conference led by the United States. Accordingly, the President entered the United Nations Organization to participate in the United Nations General Assembly in the midst of many such controversial political upheavals.
A new problem
In spite of this, another big international upheaval had arisen due to a statement made by the President while participating in a certain meeting held concurrently with the United Nations General Assembly. In this statement, which was not reported by any media in this country, the President had said that the ‘Aukus’ defence agreement signed by Australia, Britain and the United States was a kind of ‘mistake’. Claiming that it was a military alliance against one country, China, the President stated that it was a strategic mistake and that he thought the alliance was unnecessary. Through this ‘Aukus’ defence agreement signed in September 2021, the United States, Britain, and Australia established a security bond regarding information related to nuclear submarines, artificial intelligence, quantum technology, and the seabed.
The President met the representatives of the World Bank as well as the heads of the International Monetary Fund in the midst of such a controversial background. The discussion held with Mrs Kristalina Jojiava, head of the financial fund, took centre stage there. This is due to the fact that the government of Sri Lanka has not made any progress regarding the restructuring of the foreign debt, which was the main condition of the International Monetary Fund in providing loan assistance to Sri Lanka. To tell the truth, Sri Lanka’s foreign debt restructuring program is still a big mess.
The reason for this is that Sri Lanka’s creditor Western countries and China are on two sides regarding the restructuring of foreign debt. When the leading countries of America, Paris Club, India and Japan said that all countries including China should work from one position in the restructuring of foreign debt, China rejected it without participating in the discussions, and China should show Sri Lanka’s debt restructuring to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund first. This crisis is also rooted in presenting a condition. Accordingly, settling this crisis had become a major part of the President’s visit to America.
Paris Club gets stuck
Initially, the Paris Club had agreed to support Sri Lanka’s debt restructuring program, but due to the emerging international crisis, the Paris Club has not yet announced what the program is. Accordingly, the foreign debt restructuring program can be seen as stuck in the Paris Club. Accordingly, Sri Lanka had tried to get the debt restructuring program from the Paris Club through several parties at the private and diplomatic levels, but none of them had been successful. The other biggest problem is China’s silence until the program is presented. Since the President’s visit to China is scheduled for next month, it is essential to unveil the program of the Paris Club before participating in the discussions, so many are of the opinion that the President has paid a lot of attention to it in the discussion held with the head of the International Monetary Fund.
While the president was holding talks with the International Monetary Fund in America, it was seen that the International Monetary Fund was participating in its first review discussions in Sri Lanka these days. Economic and political analysts are currently expressing two opinions based on the facts that have emerged in these discussions, and one opinion says that since Sri Lanka has not yet fulfilled some of the main conditions, the second instalment of the financial fund, amounting to 333 million dollars, will be delayed. The second opinion is that even if the conditions are not fulfilled, the financial fund will grant this instalment and suspend the third instalment.
Compliments to pod
In the midst of all these events, another big controversy arose in Sri Lanka regarding the President’s visit to the US based on the delegation that the President had included in his visit. Generally, it is not a problem to bring top ministers and officials of the government to a high-level conference such as the United Nations General Assembly at this time when the country is bankrupt, but the fact that the president took steps to include several front-line MPs who represented a government that bankrupted the country had caused the displeasure of many. It was brought out for the first time by SJB MP Thushara Indunil.
Speaking in Parliament, Thushara Indunil said that the former ministers of Pohottuwa such as Mahindananda Aluthgamage, Rohitha Bogollagama, who have been accused of corruption, New MPs from Pohottuwa Dolawatta, Vadivel Suresh who joined the government after leaving the SJB and MP Musharraf who represented Rishad Badurdeen’s party and later joined the government is said that the president has taken along on his US visit. Mr Sajith Premadasa, the leader of the opposition, strongly criticized this situation and mentioned that it is wrong for the president to take the MPs who bankrupted the country to the US in a background where businesses have collapsed, people’s lives have been disrupted, and the country has gone bankrupt.
Here, the President had launched a plan to include not only Pohottuwa MPs but also several SJB MPs on this American trip. Accordingly, Monaragala Sajaba MP W.M.M. Dharmasena was invited by the Presidential Secretariat. But Dharmasena, who had rejected the invitation, had informed that he could not join it without the approval of the party. Accordingly, after Dharmasena informed the party, SJB immediately informed the relevant parties that SJB MPs will not join any visit with the President.
The ship is arriving
Meanwhile, international media has reported that China’s Xi’an 6 ship, which has caused a lot of controversy these days, has also started its journey to Sri Lanka. This ship is scheduled to enter Sri Lanka on the 28th. Many people are of the opinion that the Xiang 6 ship will come to Sri Lanka on the occasion of the Republic Day of China on October 1st. However, many countries including India, America, and Japan have protested against the arrival of this Chinese ship to Sri Lanka, but it is a special event that several responsible institutions in this country have already given permission for it to enter Sri Lanka. As a result, it is now possible to see another international crisis emerging in the Indian Ocean region centred on Sri Lanka.
However, after realizing that there is a risk of a crisis arising from the ship, a request was made to China last week by the government asking whether the voyage of the Chinese ship could be postponed until next November. However, the news we have received says that China has not shown much interest in the request of the Sri Lankan government.
Meanwhile, Sirasa TV reported last Thursday that the Shi Yang 6 ship has now approached the Indian Exclusive Economic Zone in the Indian Ocean. Citing international shipping data, Sirasa TV reported that this ship, which had left facing Sri Lanka, was moving at a slow speed near the Nicobar Islands of India as of Thursday.
Another ship in January
However, just as it said as ‘Ali Madiwa Koti’ last Monday, Sri Lankan media reported that after this ‘Xiang 6’ research ship, another Chinese research ship ‘Xiang Hong 6’ is also scheduled to arrive in Sri Lanka next January. It is now possible to see how India has once again stirred up with that news. Accordingly, it was in such a background that requests were made to China from the side of the government to somehow postpone the journey of the Xiang 6 ship to Sri Lanka until November. But if China ignores the request and sends the ship to Sri Lanka on the 28th as planned, Sri Lanka will have to face a serious diplomatic crisis.
Meet Xi Jinping
The government has informed China to delay the ship until November because the date for the President’s visit to China has been fixed in October. The President will visit China on October 16 and 17 and the President has planned to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping on the 17th. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China has now confirmed that the President of China will meet the President of Sri Lanka on the 17th.
The President of Sri Lanka and the President of China are meeting in this manner after a top-level Chinese representative came to Sri Lanka and held a highly confidential discussion with the Governor of the Central Bank Mr. Nandalal Weerasinghe. In an extraordinary revelation, we reported information to the country last week in which we said that the Deputy Governor of the China Development Bank was on the trip and that the discussion with the Central Bank Governor Nandalal had been kept extremely secret.
We revealed that there was a serious condition from China’s side and that in order for China to restructure its debt, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank must first show Sri Lanka’s debt restructuring. We reported there that no matter how much effort was made by Nandalal and Treasury Secretary Mahinda Siriwardena, who was present at the discussion, to change the condition, the Deputy Governor of the China Development Bank did not give a good response.
Many people are of the opinion that the talks between the President and the Chinese President will be very decisive in such a background. This is because the topic of Chinese debt restructuring is number one on the agenda of this discussion. But the information we have says that no matter how much it tries, China is clearly waiting for other countries, including the Paris Community, to come up with debt restructuring programs. China will take the final decision on debt restructuring after knowing what the Paris Community program is.
Will Jaishankar come?
In the midst of all this, a conference is scheduled to be held in Sri Lanka next October, which many people, suspect will cause another problem. It is known as ‘Ayora’ or : *. The foreign ministers of 23 countries located in the Indian Ocean region are scheduled to participate in this, and Sri Lanka will hold the chairmanship for the period 2023-2025. Last year, this conference was held in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, and Foreign Minister Mr. Ali Sabri participated.
However, the problem that has arisen is whether Indian Foreign Minister Mr. Jayashankar will participate in this conference representing India, the strongest country in the region. Currently, his office has confirmed that he will participate in the conference, but many people are paying attention to whether such a thing will happen in view of the emerging crises.
One of the things we reported earlier on this channel was that based on the pro-China policy of the government, India has initiated some political disputes regarding Sri Lanka. Three weeks ago, we had reported that Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh was scheduled to visit Sri Lanka, but at the last minute, he cancelled the visit saying it was an unavoidable reason. Under such a background, Indian Foreign Minister S. Jayashankar’s participation in the Ayora conference in Sri Lanka is a big uncertainty.
Down to 113
Last week, we reported in the ‘inside politics’ column that Mr Ranil Wickremesinghe held a special discussion with Mr Basil Rajapaksa, who is considered to be the mastermind of Pohottuwa who supported him for the presidency, before leaving for America. We also told how the background was set up for holding that discussion. There we said that only 113 votes were received in the last no-confidence vote held against the Minister of Health Keheliya Rambukwella and that a group of back-row members of the government met with Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena and announced that they are ready to teach a lesson to 6 ministers who do not listen to their demands in the budget presented in November.
On the other hand, since the day the President took office, he had given a written letter to the President asking him to give the positions of Cabinet Ministers to the seniors of Pohottuwa, but the problem of the request not being fulfilled so far has also led to this discussion between Basil and the President. Accordingly, in the discussion between the President and Basil, we revealed that there was some discussion regarding the allocation of ministers.
A cabinet reshuffle
Against this background, the ‘ Inside Politics ‘ column has heard that the President is currently preparing plans to reshuffle the Cabinet after the President’s visit to China and before presenting the 2024 budget to Parliament. There has been some discussion within the government in the last few days in which Johnston Fernando, S.M. Chandrasena, C. B Ratnayaka, S.B.Dissanayaka, Rohitha Abeyagunawardena, who are on the list of names sent by Basil, are to get cabinet minister positions.
However, a special meeting between Basil Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena took place last week while the President was visiting America. Although it did not receive a lot of publicity through the media, it is said that many political hints were reflected through this meeting. Basil has informed the Prime Minister that since next year is an election year, the last budget presented before that should be a very popular budget, and the budget should be prepared in such a way that the people get more relief and benefits. If not, Basil pointed out to Dinesh that it will be impossible to prevent the government from being disapproved of by the people in the upcoming elections, and has also indicated that he has decided to give a budget proposal to the government in the future. ‘Inside Politics’ column has heard that Dinesh has agreed to it.
Accordingly, we will have to wait and see whether the president will take steps to neutralize Basil’s influence by handing over several cabinet ministers after his visit to China, or whether Basil will make a decisive decision regarding the government in the upcoming budget.
Last week, in a special disclosure through the ‘ Inside Politics ‘ column, we said that before the President left for the United States, he made a strong effort to prepare a special face-to-face discussion with the American President Joe Biden. We had reported there that initially the green light had been given for the discussion, but at the last minute, the American authorities informed us that the relevant meeting could not be held. Accordingly, as we said, there was no face-to-face discussion between the President and Joe Biden during his visit to America.
But in a photo released to the media by the Presidential Media Unit on last Thursday, it was shown how President Ranil Wickremesinghe and Mrs. Maithrie Wickremesinghe are together with Mr. and Mrs. Joe Biden. An announcement issued by the same unit further stated that Mr Biden welcomed the President of Sri Lanka in a very friendly manner and appeared for a group photo after a friendly conversation. Many people who see it suddenly feel that the disclosure made through the ‘inside politics’ column is false and that a special meeting has taken place between Mr. Biden and Mr. Ranil Wickramasinghe.
But that had not happened here. Here, according to the usual tradition, only a photo was taken with President Biden. Usually, almost every year, when the United Nations General Assembly is held in the United States, it is the custom of the American President to host a dinner for all the participating heads of state. The US President and First Lady will pose for a photo along with all the visiting heads of state and their wives. Here too, it was not a face-to-face discussion between the two.
When former President Mahinda Rajapaksa also went to the United States to address the UN General Assembly, he requested a discussion with then-President Barack Obama, but he did not get that opportunity. The reason for that was the accusation of violating human rights against Mahinda’s government at that time. But despite not receiving a discussion from Obama, every time Mahinda went to the United States to address the United Nations, the Rajapaksa couple had the opportunity to appear in a group photo with the Obama couple. Just like today, the Presidential Media Unit released the same photo to the media while announcing that Mahinda and Obama had met.
Shooting at Uddika
Last week, a member of parliament, Uddika Premaratne, was shot in front of his house in Anuradhapura. Police investigations were immediately started in this regard, and later Uddika made a special statement in Parliament saying that he was shot at by the existing system due to his criticism of the existing system.
Even though Uddika said so, on the same evening, various doubts were raised and questioned on the social media networks regarding this incident. The social media networks had questioned why Uddika was travelling alone without any MP security officer or driver. It was also questioned that when Uddika stopped the vehicle and went to the house where he got out of the vehicle, the bullet hit the rear window of the vehicle. Also, many people questioned the fact that the CCTV cameras were not working. Accordingly, many people said with sarcasm that this is an incident similar to ‘Kelaniya Naya’.
However, due to the fact that the Criminal Investigation Department has started investigations in this regard, everyone will be able to find out the truth of this shooting in the future.