( January 3, 2016, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) Will former British Prime Minister Tony Blair be the latest peace maker in Sri Lanka’s reconciliation process?
The talk in the corridors of the Foreign Ministry in Colombo is that the prospects are high. They say the overtures to join in came from Blair, Britain’s Labour Prime Minister from 1997 to 2007. His main occupation now is a consultancy business and engaging in charitable work. He was also a West Asia peace maker who made more than 150 visits to the region, alas, to no avail.
One FO source whispered that he is now in contact with Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera with regard to his possible new assignment. The Foreign Minister was in Britain on holiday recently. The FO source pointed out that it was during Blair’s tenure that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) set up its so called headquarters in London despite an official ban on the terrorist organisation. Then, when even former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, sought meetings with him through diplomatic channels during her frequent visits to Britain, she was understandably, rebuffed. The British Premier’s office took up the position that the then Sri Lankan President was merely trying to make what was a private visit seem an official one back to her constituency at home.
Now, that peace has arrived in Sri Lanka, the man who allowed Tiger guerrillas to direct a war from Sri Lanka is hell bent on accelerating the reconciliation process which is largely under Kumaratunga. Has he given up on West Asia and looking for a new assignment? Well, at least some of Blair’s new friends in Sri Lanka believe so.