Front Page


Parlez vous Francais, Tyronne
Foreign Minister Tyronne Fernando has begun studying French in preparation to assuming the onerous mantle of the Secretary-General of the United Nations Organisation in 2007.

The Oxford-educated lawyer was this week unanimously confirmed as Sri Lanka's candidate for incumbent Kofi Annan's job when the African diplomat retires in 2007 and plans to farm in his continent thereafter.

Mr. Fernando is already campaigning unofficially for the job having visited several countries since he became foreign minister in December 2001. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe proposed his foreign minister's name at the weekly cabinet meeting this week in an unusual run-up for the UN top job even before Mr. Annan has reached the half-way mark of his second and final term.

The UN SG's post goes geographically, and it is Asia's turn next according to the roster, though already suggestions are being made to alter this procedure, for instance, to consider gender-based appointments.

A legislator since 1977, Mr. Fernando is currently studying French from a private tutor in Colombo. French is an official language at the UN and is an important factor in getting the support of Francophone countries.

The announcement comes in the wake of the cancellation of a Kofi Annan visit to Sri Lanka around this time. The SG's office has said that there was no formal agreement to visit the country despite an announcement from Mr. Fernando's ministry, which triggered a controversy because the LTTE had requested Mr. Annan to visit its jungle hideouts when in Sri Lanka.

Mr. Fernando when contacted by The Sunday Times declined to elaborate on his campaign for the UN top job and whether it would be on the Sri Lankan tax payer's account.

Meanwhile, Premier Wickremesinghe is riding a political storm for a remark he made at the UN General Assembly a fortnight ago where he tacitly approved the US-led invasion of Iraq because the UN had failed to find a solution to the crisis.
The opposition, spearheaded by the JVP, is planning to move a no-confidence motion in parliament against the Prime Minister on October 23 over the remarks made at the UN General Assembly.

However, PA Media Spokesman Sarath Amunugama on Friday told a news conference they were ready to withdraw the no-confidence motion if the Prime Minister made an apology in parliament.

The Sunday Times learns that Dr. Amunugama's remark was made as he was not sure what the other opposition members were planning about the no-confidence motion.

Mr. Wickremesinghe later clarified his remarks saying he meant something else by the wording of his speech and that Sri Lanka's foreign policy was linked to maintaining a healthy relationship with 'like-minded states' in acting as a leverage on behalf of the poor developing countries with the US and the EU.

Back to Top  Back to Front Page  

Copyright © 2001 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd. All rights reserved.
Contact us: | Editorial | | Webmaster|