Opposition Leader Ranil Wickramasinghe was snubbed by the visiting US delegates. It is common practice for visiting senior overseas delegates to meet the Opposition Leader of any country as courtesy. However this time, Marie Otero, Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy and Human Rights and Assistant Secretary Robert O’Blake Jr. have not requested for a meeting with Sri Lanka’s Opposition Leader Ranil Wickramasinghe.
Realising that there had been no requests forthcoming from the US Embassy, Mr Wickramasinghe has asked his office to contact the US Embassy to inquire of the nature of their visit and enquire why he hasn’t been asked for a meeting.
As the US Ambassador was on leave at that time, the Deputy Chief of Mission’s office has taken note of this request and has said that they will call back. However, as no calls were received by 3pm on Friday, 10 February, another reminder call was made by the Opposition Leader’s Office. The lady who answered the phone at the other end has replied “who? Opposition leader’s office – what opposition in Sri Lanka?”
After explaining of the previous conversation that same morning with another colleague of her’s the lady at the Embassy end, has agreed to speak to the Deputy Chief of Mission Ms. Fowler and revert back while the call was hanging. The reply was unprecedented, “unfortunately this time both delegates will not be able to meet the Opposition Leader – Please apologise to him.”
This is an obvious snub. This rejection reflects the state of the opposition in Sri Lanka and how the US has changed its views of Mr Wickramasinghe as the opposition leader, political observers and Colombo based diplomats commented.
They also made reference to the importance the US gives to Mr R Sampanthan and to the TNA as the two senior delegates Marie Otero, Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy and Human Rights and Assistant Secretary Robert O’Blake Jr. met with the TNA leader Mr R Sampanthan and Mr M A Sumanthiran on Sunday, 12 February for more than an hour and a half.