Ban Ki Moon’s connection to Rajapakse
|Criticisms are being levelled from all quarters these days against UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon for not taking steps to halt the Sri Lankan (SL) war concluded recently. ‘The Economist’ magazine has declared that Ban Ki Moon’s popularity is on the decline day by day , based on an opinion poll , adding that, one of the reasons for this popularity wane is because Moon did not perform his duties duly during the SL war .The US New York Times newspaper during the last few days has also come down heavily on Ban Ki Moon against his course of action and for not taking measures to stop the war. It had been pointed out that Ban Ki Moon had not adopted adequate strategies and measures to stop the war. Although he tried to halt the war by his personal discussions with the SL Govt. , he did not sufficiently enlist the International community to bring enough pressure to bear on the SL Govt. overtly. He is also being castigated for his lukewarm attitude , having not made an announcement seriously critical of the SL Govt. and for not issuing a notice under his personal signature.
There are also charges against him that even though during the tail end of the war he was scheduled to visit SL , he had instead, sent his representative and divested himself of the responsibilities. This action has come under heavy fire . He has been blamed severely for sidelining his all important scheduled tour to SL during the critical final phase of the SL war.
Irrespective of whether there is any truth in the accusations, it is very clear that the SL Govt. had from the day of commencement of the war, made a right evaluation of the pressures Ban Ki Moon can exert on SL in connection with the war. The SL Govt. on the basis of this evaluation exploited its diplomacy to take measures to forestall and lighten the pressures of Ban Ki Moon. SL Govt. was clever in its manipulations.
Mahinda Rajapaksa knew Ban Ki Moon before the former became President of SL .During the time when voting was to take place to fill the vacancy of Secretary General of UN , there was a view that an Asian shall fill this vacancy. When it was decided that the UN General Secretary post shall be held by an Asian, the Asian countries forwarded the names of their candidates for the post.
South Korea proposed Ban Ki Moon who was a Foreign Minister of their country . SL too had the need to name a candidate for the UN Gen. Secretary post. SL proposed the name of Jayantha Dhanapala , a former High Commissioner who served in the UN Organization. When SL proposed Dhanapala’s name , S. Korea requested SL to get his name withdrawn, in which case, South Korea agreed to provide financial aid to SL .
At that time , the SL’s Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar’s perception was that SL will have to defray large sums of money if it is to contest the UN Gen. Secretary post ,and despite such expenditure , the chances of SL emerging victorious was slim. Therefore, for a poor country like SL , helping S. Korea’s candidate and reaping the financial benefits was a better option , he argued.
Dhanapala insisted that he could contest and win the UN Gen. Secretary post elections. He explained this to the SL President at that time Chandrika Kumaratunge. Mr. Dhanapala’s name was then proposed.
S. Korea representatives met Mahinda Rajapakse who was then the Prime Minster of SL. They requested him to get Dhanapala’s name withdrawn from the contest and support their candidate. It was at that time Mahinda Rajapakse and Ban Ki Moon came to know each other.
When Mahinda Rajapakse was becoming President , Dhanapala was SL’s candidate for the post of UN Gen. Secretary . But , when the UN Gen Secretary elections was drawing close , it was indicated that Dhanapala’s victory was a remote possibility. When Mahinda was extending support to Ban Ki Moon , he requested Dhanapala to withdraw from the contest. By that time, Dhanapala too had realized that he cannot win at the UN Gen. Secretary elections.
Mahinda Rajapakse took a wise decision at that juncture . He intuitively discerned that in the future , the UN Sec. General will be crucial to SL in decision making. Taking a farsighted decisions is what ‘Medamulana diplomacy’ means . If Dhanapala was to be kept in the contest, SL will have to spend large sums of money which would be of no avail as Dhanapala in any case would lose. Besides. Ban Ki Moon and S. Korea’s feelings would be hurt. Mahinda made a judicious move to convince Dhanapala of the actual situation.
For Ban Ki Moon , the decision taken by Mahinda Rajapaksa was unforgettable . This is why when the whole world was vehemently and vociferously protesting against the SL war , Ban Ki Moon took pains to discuss it with Mahinda on a personal level , and requested him to explore the possibility of halting the on going war. He avoided making bitter criticisms against the SL Govt. because he was averse to disrupting the cordial relations that existed between him and the SL Govt.
At the tail end of the war , when he was under intense pressure to visit SL , he sidelined it , and sent Nambiar as his representative. Nambiar’s brother was a former high ranking official of the Indian Army who had negotiated with the Tamil Tigers as India’s representative. However , he had no faith at all in the Tamil Tigers. If India’s former Chief had no trust at all in the Tamil Tigers , it is inconceivable that his brother , the UN representative will have faith in them.
The war ended when Nambiar was in SL. After the end of the war , when charges were brought before the UNHRC against SL , S. Korea ,the country to which UN Sec. General belonged opposed it. Then and only then , the Tamil Tigers would have realized what this Rajapaksa’s ‘ Meda mulana’ diplomacy had done . But , it was too late when that realization dawned on them , for by that time everything needed to be done for their devastation was done and finished.