Cablegate: Official Informal Number 050 (03/30/04)

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.






E.O. 12958: DECL: N/A




1. (SBU) FYI. Here are the latest nuggets of news:

-- As noted in Colombo 557, campaigning for the April 2
election is set to end at midnight tonight (March 30).
The PM is speaking at a number of rallies before
attending the UNP's final rally of the campaign in
Colombo tonight. President Kumaratunga is also
scheduled to attend at least one rally today. The TNA
also has its final rally in Jaffna late today.

-- In a sudden move, the Election Commissioner took over
state-run media late March 29 for the rest of the
election timeframe. He is taking the action to ensure
that the media is on the up-and-up and neutral from now
on until April 2. As you know, state-run media had been
in the hands of President Kumaratunga and has been
skewing things in the UPFA's favor.

-- Killing of Tamil Candidate: A TNA candidate for
Parliament was shot and killed in Batticaloa town late
March 29. His assistant was also reportedly killed. No
one has been arrested in the crime. For the reasons
reviewed in Colombo 557 regarding recent shootings, the
LTTE is suspected of carrying out the killing (the TNA
candidate was reportedly pro-Karuna). This is the
fourth killing this campaign (fifth if the report re the
assistant is accurate), three of them have been linked
to the Tigers.

-- Earlier today, DCM, RSO, and Pol briefed Mission's
ten teams (officers and FSNs) going out for informal
election observation later this week. PAFFREL (the
local USAID-funded election monitoring NGO) and NDI also
briefed the teams. The teams are going all over
(Jaffna, Vavuniya, Galle, Hambantota, Nuwara Eliya,
Anuradhapura, etc.). The OTI offices in Trincomalee and
Ampara will also be calling in information on what is
happening in the always-volatile east on election day.


2. (U) You will see an e-mail with attachments that we
are sending out to Col. Shupp, Codel Dreier's
coordinator, today. We would appreciate it if you would
call him to make sure that he has it. (His numbers are:
office: 202-225-7807 or cell 703-244-1928.) The e-mail
and attachments should also be shared with someone on
Dreier's staff as well (by either the desk or H). One
key point: Mission is requesting clearance for the
Codel aircraft to use Ratmalana military airport
(instead of Bandanaraike international airport), which
is closer to Colombo and also a much easier place to
handle military aircraft (all our milair comes into
Ratmalana, most recently 13th Air Force commander MG
Larsen). The flight crew apparently is concerned that
Ratmalana isn't "all weather," which is technically true
but not significant (Mission personnel have landed at
Ratmalana, from where commercial flights to Jaffna are
also staged, in all kinds of weather.) We would
appreciate it if you would emphasize our points and that
our judgment should be trusted on this. Thanks. (POL)


© Scoop Media

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