Bala come ?
Tiger guerrilla chief negotiator and
ideologue, Dr. Anton Balasingham, is due in the Wanni anytime in
the next few days.
How he will
reach there is the question that is puzzling even UNF leaders. They
are still awaiting word from the Norwegian facilitators. Although
he was due yesterday, plans have now changed for a later arrival.
highly placed intelligence sources, an arrival from Maldives in
a hired seaplane is ruled out. This is after an encounter on the
last occasion when it flew low over Naval craft that had surrounded
a flotilla of Sea Tiger boats. A return through the Bandaranaike
International Airport, as sections of the media speculated, the
same sources say, is highly unlikely.
a return from a southern Indian state. The sources believe initiatives
are still under way, through the good offices of Norway, to obtain
permission from the Central Government in India, for Dr. Balasingham
to fly from Kerala to the Wanni in a hired helicopter. The request
is said to have been made through Indian Defence Minister, George
Fernandez, but intelligence sources say no final confirmation has
presence in the Wanni, for talks with Tiger guerrilla leader Velupillai
Prabhakaran, is said to be a crucial matter in view of the upcoming
second round of peace talks in the Thai Naval resort of Sattahip.
The Tiger guerrilla
delegation for the talks this time is to include the leader of the
Political Wing, S.P. Tamil Chelvan and others. How he will travel
from the Wanni is still not clear.
in the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) delegation has already
led to Norwegian facilitators making special arrangements. Since
Mr. Chelvan is to speak in Tamil, translators are also to be engaged.
The talks in Thailand are scheduled to take place from October 31
to November 3.
With the concurrence
of both the Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE, the conference
has now been extended by a further day i.e. until November 4.
This is in
view of the time that will be consumed by Tamil speeches and the
need to have them translated into English.
Whilst the attention of the entire na
tion is focused on the UNF Government's peace initiatives, day-to-day
activities in the nation's three premier security arms, the Army,
Navy and Air Force are being hit by inaction at the highest levels.
In the Army,
where for the first time the Commander (Lt. Gen. Lionel Balagalle)
and his Director of Military Intelligence (Brig. Kapila Hendavithana)
are facing charges in the Chief Magistrate's Court in Kandy for
storing explosives at their Safe House in Athurugiriya, posting
orders to position officers in various important positions have
not been approved for over a month.
from Army Headquarters, issued periodically and approved by the
Ministry of Defence, name senior officers for appointments to various
important positions including Army establishments countrywide. An
over a month long delay by the MoD has led to several officers idling.
At the highest level, it includes a Major General who has returned
three months ago after a training stint abroad.
In the Sri
Lanka Navy, its Commander, Vice Admiral Daya Sandagiri, is busy
with an inquiry against his own number two and others, of all things,
on the ground that his life is in danger This is for allegedly photographing
his private residence (where he does not live) thus threatening
his life. Factionalism has split the Navy apart so much that training
and other activity is now receiving low priority.
In the Air
Force, there is no Commander and no Chief of Staff. The Commander,
Air Marshal Donald Perera, is away on a private visit to Singapore.
A Chief of Staff has not been appointed. Hence, Air Commodore Laksen
Salgado, Director of Operations, is only "overlooking"
the work of the Commander. On top of that, the post of Chief of
Defence Staff, has remained vacant for the past three months. Acting
in this military post, which deals with operational matters, is
Defence Secretary Austin Fernando.
in New York
Lankan expatriates in the United States, who traditionally relish
their string hoppers, katta sambol and ambul thial, can now watch
"live" cricket matches as and when they are played in
Colombo. On Monday, the Dish Network brought the finals of the Champions
Trophy on live television as hundreds and thousands of Sri Lankan
and Indians watched the rained-out finals on the pay-per-view channel,
which provided a ball-by-ball commentary of the match.
The cost for
semi-final and final matches was $99 (about Sri Lankan Rupees 9,000).
Sri Lankan Airlines was one of the advertisers. "It was a tremendous
boost for Sri Lankan tourism in the United States. And it was a
golden opportunity to promote Sri Lankan Airlines", Dilan Ariyawansa,
Sales and Marketing Manager - USA, for Sri Lankan Airlines, said.
Sri Lankan style, Ariyawansa organised a kiributh party at his residence
for cricket enthusiasts - which was virtually the entire expatriate
community in town, since there is a 10 hour time difference between
Colombo and New York, Ariyawansa's guests arrived at his home at
3 a.m. because the finals began at the ungodly hour of 4 a.m. New