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LTTE leadership in a state of dilemma

in the absence of Balasingham who will be the next LTTE ideologue?

The demise of the organization’s theoretician cum chief negotiator Anton Balasingham, has left the LTTE leadership in a state of dilemma, wondering as to how to internationalize its cause further, in the backdrop of efforts by the government to corner the Tigers both here and abroad.

As many experts claimed Anton Balasingham provided the intellectual framework for the violence of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). The LTTE Leader Velupillai Prabhakaran is reportedly fed up trying for a replacement for Balasingham as many of the LTTE diaspora seniors who have been approached by the leadership had reportedly refused to shoulder the responsibility.

Although several names had been proposed by the international LTTE experts’ network, it is learnt that Prabhakaran favours only two , former Sri Lankan Attorney General Shiva Pasupathy, now an LTTE advisor and currently living in Australia and LTTE’s legal advisor US based Viswanathan Rudrakumar. However both of them had refused the offer and informed the Tiger leadership they were not prepared to play that pivotal role in the international scene but would continue to make their contributions in their present capacities.

However, the hunt for a new propaganda manager should have ideally started even before the signing of the ceasefire agreement in 2002. Anton Balasingham had reportedly been making repeated requests from Prabhakaran this time around, to look for a replacement claiming that he found it difficult to carry out his tasks efficiently due to deteriorating health.

However Prabhakaran had insisted that Balasingham continued his role as theoretician, head- propaganda and chief negotiator despite the differences of opinion between the two on many issues.

Soon after the death of Balasingham, last month, Prabhakaran had sought assistance from his constitutional committee which consisted of legal and constitutional experts from all over the world to find a replacement for Balasingham. The committee comprised of V. Rudrakumar (USA), M. Sornarajah (Singapore), P. Ramaswamy (Malaysia) and former Sri Lankan Attorney General, Shiva Pasupathy (Australia).

Interestingly Prabhakaran himself had short-listed Rudrakumar and Shiva Pasupathy going by their academic/ professional background and experience and international standing. He had reportedly said that it would add up to the credibility of the organization.

Shiva Pasupathy who held the post of Attorney General from 1975 to 1988, has in recent years represented the LTTE’s constitutional affairs committee at several fora, including several meetings held in Oslo with the Norwegian facilitators.

Pasupathy maintained healthy relations with former heads of States viz Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike, President J. R. Jayewardene and Ranasinghe Premadasa. In recent years, Balasingham had been regularly consulting the former attorney General both prior and during peace talks and Pasupathy played a leading role in the drafting of the ISGA proposals of the LTTE.

In addition his expertise was also sought, much earlier, when establishing Legal and Courts systems in the LTTE controlled areas in the North and East.

Pasupathy who lives in Australia is now dubbed by many as somebody who successfully hid his Tiger stripes – his loyalty to the LTTE - during his tenure in the Sri Lanka government service.

Though there were initial protests by him, it is strongly speculated that former Sri Lanka Attorney General Pasupathy would be the next Tiger ideologue.

The other favourite of Prabhakaran LTTE’s legal advisor V. Rudrakumar who is a prominent New York-based attorney is the de facto head of LTTE operations in the United States. Rudrakumar is the son of the former TULF Mayor of Jaffna, Mark Viswanathan. A US citizen and a New York based lawyer Rudrakumar was a member of the official delegation of the LTTE in several rounds of peace talks with the Government. During the last peace talks in Geneva, Rudrakumar was assigned to play the role of ideologue in the absence of Balasingham.

It is learnt that Rudrakumar has close links with top officials of several governments in the world including United States and Canada. Using these links he has managed to gain some recognition to the LTTE in these countries where the LTTE ban had been imposed .However Prabhakaran who had several tiffs with Balasingham over key issues had told his confidantes he would not give a free hand to whoever is going to be the next theoretician since contradictory stands by Wanni and LTTE international have a negative effect on the credibility of the organization.The growing number of threats and defections, have seen Prabhakaran suspecting the loyalty of even his own bodyguards.

However in Balasingham, despite the differences Prabhakaran found a true friend.

So when Prabhakaran said the following on Balasingham, he really meant it - “The light of our nation is extinguished, there is no Bala with me today to seek counsel and solace. His death comes at a time when we needed him most, as our freedom struggle intensifies. I cannot find words to express my grief and loss,”

By conferring the highest honour - the title ‘Voice of the Nation’ - on Balasingham he displayed his gratitude for his close friend and chief negotiator since 1985.

For many in the international media Balasingham was a propagator of ruthless terrorism.

The low morale of the LTTE

With all signs pointing to the fact that the LTTE is going to lose all its key bases in the East to the government security forces, LTTE leader Prabhakaran has given instructions to his area leaders to avoid confrontations at any cost and instead concentrate on suicide attacks.

The decision has been taken following the large number of casualties reported in the recent past due to the attacks by the security forces as well as the Karuna group. Man power and equipment, he has advised should be saved for bigger battles to be fought in the North.

It is learnt that regular aerial bombing and ground troops activities such as long range operations and heavy Multi-Barrel Rocket Launcher and artillery attacks had seen a drastic drop in the morale of the LTTE cadres lately.

The civilian protests against desperate recruitment drives and also use of them as human shields too have affected the Tiger confidence badly.

The LTTE radio communication interceptions had revealed that the Eastern area leaders had been informing the Wanni leadership how they were facing several fronts, Army, STF and Karuna groups at the same time with a minimum number of strength and equipment. On the other hand the LTTE attempts to portray distorted versions of various situations too has failed. For instance while the LTTE tried to create the impression that people in Jaffna were dying due to the shortage of food, the international community including the UN later found out there was no such a severe shortage of food supplies.

The United Nations too claimed that the Sri Lanka government did not require any help from the UN for transport of food to Jaffna.

Amidst these setbacks several killer squads have been sent to Colombo and its suburbs to carry out VIP assassinations. However the tight security in these areas had so far prevented the LTTE from going for those targets.

The suicide cadres had reportedly informed LTTE’s Spy Chief Pottu Amman that they unable to reach to the VIP targets due to the stringent security measures by the government.

The failed attempt on the life of Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa is one such example as to how the security arrangements prevented the LTTE cadres from going for their target as they wished.

However knowing the LTTE tendency to wait for months and years for their targets, fresh security arrangements are introduced regularly to ensure the security of VIPs and strategic locations.

 


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