LTTE Flip-Flop Over Prabhakaran Death Hints Power Struggle

. 5/26/09

By confirming the death of LTTE supremo V Prabhakaran through a formal statement that hailed his "martyrdom", Selvarasa Pathmanathan, head of the group's international relations division, has incurred the wrath of die-hard supporters of the LTTE, including some in Tamil Nadu.

It was Pathmanathan who announced that the LTTE was "silencing its guns" on May 17. A day earlier, he had spoken of the Tigers heeding US president Barack Obama's call to protect civilians caught in the war zone. And, most interestingly, he had told Tamilnet.com, the widely tracked pro-rebel website, on May 18 that the leader was alive and safe, even though many others were dead.

Has Pathmanathan, known to intelligence agencies around the world as 'KP' and as the guerrilla group's chief arms procurer for many years, positioned himself as the LTTE's main voice and de facto leader in the aftermath of the outfit's military decimation?

The answer may lie in possible contradictions between Pathmanathan and sections of the LTTE functionaries abroad. During worldwide protests organised in several capitals by the Tamil diaspora, KP is said to have advocated that protesters focus solely on the humanitarian catastrophe due to the war rather than project the LTTE and its leadership.

However, a powerful section mainly headed by its overseas administration head Castro (real name, V Manivannan) feared that the cause would slip out of the organisation's hands if the LTTE, its flag and insignia were relegated to the background. The result was that local parliamentary deputies in many countries kept away from Tamil protests in which the LTTE flags and Prabhakaran's pictures were displayed.

The tussle, in sum, may be between KP, who now says he is ready for a political process leading to an honourable solution, and others who may be keen on reviving armed militancy and keeping the Prabhakaran legend alive.

His detractors, including MDMK leader Vaiko, have accused him of betraying the organisation by confirming Prabhakaran's death despite what they believe is Colombo's failure to convincingly its claim. "It is an unforgivable betrayal," Vaiko said.
Source: The Times of India

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