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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2281

Battle of Nerves: Who is telling the Truth – Rajitha Senaratne ? Sarath Fonseka?

Colombo, 12 May, (Asiantribune.com):

Who is telling the truth? Actually did the battle tested Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka tendered apology to the Sri Lankan President? Sarath Fonseka says a firm “No,” but Cabinet spokesman Dr. Rajitha Senaratne says “Yes.”

In fact who is speaking the truth? Conflicting reports now emerges. This is matter of splitting hairs. Not worth tuppence, yet some moral issues involved.

It all happened after President Maithripala Srisena failed to appoint the former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka as the Minister in charge of Law and Order.

Angered Minister Sarath Fonseka on 4th May, took a swipe at President Maithripala Srisena.

Regional Development Minister, Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka said that former president Chandrika Kumaratunga told him recently with tears in her eyes that she was unable to get an appointment to meet President Maithripala Sirisena for three months and could not contact him over the phone for two months.

He said the President, who agreed to appoint him Law and Order minister, refused to do so later saying that some people including several DIGs and Buddhist monks opposed the move.

When asked why the President who initially agreed to offer the ministry later changed his mind, the minister said it was a long story and explained what happened.

“After the Presidential election on January 8, four of us met at the residence of former President Kumaratunge to discuss the future plans of the government. President Sirisena, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, Chandrika Kumaratunge and the person named Sarath Fonseka were present. Then I was the leader of the Democratic Party (DP). Five speakers were arranged to speak at the election rallies for the 2015 presidential election. Champika Ranawaka, Arjuna Ranatunge, Hirunika Premachandra and myself were in the list of speakers. I had opened 65 party officers throughout the country and I addressed 100 election rallies and my wife addressed 30 rallies when I was absent. That is how we contributed to the election. We got into a fight with the then President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Our whole family worked in the election campaign taking a great risk. But by today, Ex-President Kumaratunge told me recently with full of tears in her eyes that she was unable to get an appointment to meet President Maithripala Sirisena for three months and could not contact him over the phone for two months,

“The idea that the Prime Minister should be removed from the post after the local government elections was first brought up by the President. Then the no-confidence motion was brought against the Prime Minister. It was reported that the SLFPers who voted in favour of the motion were the ones who keep close company with the President. The President was of the view that the Prime Minister should be removed. That was what happened to the two of us who were in the discussion. The third was me. The UNP had proposed to the President that I should be appointed as the Law and order Minister. He told me before I was leaving for Indonesia that I would be getting a powerful ministry. Then I left for Indonesia for a family trip. President’s parliament secretary and Minister Rajitha Senaratne asked me to return to the country saying that I was to receive a powerful ministry. But I refused to return in a hurry. Later I saw in the websites that the Prime Minister has taken over the ministry for two weeks.

But when I returned to the country, the Prime Minister informed me that the President was objected the ministry being given to me. Then I met the President and asked why it was so. The President said about five DIGs had asked him not to give me the ministry as I was serving in the army and was unable to hold the post. Then I explained that I had worked with the police when I was in the army and I had even worked with present IGP. I cannot accept the fact the President’s decision to refuse to give me the post due to the objection of several DIGs.

“I asked if the President told the Prime Minister that several Buddhist monks had objected the post given to me. Then he admitted that he told it to the Premier. But he refused to disclose the names of the monks. He also said several government officials also asked him not to give me the ministry as I have difficulty getting Visas to some countries and I would be unable to attend events in abroad. I am not someone who goes abroad on public money. What he should have done was not to refuse me the ministry on that ground but to discuss with such countries and arrange me to get the visas,” he explained the matters behind him not getting the Law and Order Ministry and added that it was a sad reflection on Sri Lanka government if foreign influence plays a role when Cabinet Ministers are chosen.

Addressing the media at his office yesterday, Minister Fonseka stressed that both leaders of the ‘Yahapalana Government’ President Siriena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe must take the full responsibility for the major electoral setback suffered by the government at the February Local Government polls.

“We have miserably failed in the last three years to fulfill the pledges given at two elections in 2015. The people in 2015 voted for President Sirisena in January and to the UNP in August mainly to expose murderers, financial crimes, embezzlements and other misdeeds committed under Mahinda Rajapaksa regime and bring members of the Rajapaks family before the law and punish them. This did not happen as expected. The President should be held responsible for not taking action against the Rajapaksas. People voted en-mass against the government at the LG polls not because they had a special affection to the SLPP but because they had been disappointed over the government’s failure. Both the leaders should be held responsible for these failures,” Minister Fonseka stressed.

Minister Fonseka expressed his dismay and displeasure on the continuous refusal by courts to give permission to the CID to arrest Gotabhaya Rajapaksa for alleged offences committed by him. He cannot prove his innocence only by retaining big time legal counsel by paying big cash. Can an average citizen have this luxury from the courts? He asked.

“It was sad that voters have forgotten the unpardonable crimes committed by under Rajapaksa regime and how they destroyed the economy and country. They must not forget those sins only because the unity government did not perform to their expectations. If a member of the Rajapaksa family becomes the President at the next election, the repercussions would be terrible because he would be an absolute dictator with unrestricted power. He will abolish independent commissions, and take law and order into his hands,” Minister Fonseka cautioned.

Those who do politics against Rajapaksas like him will have to go to jail for sure but not under six feet as suggested by some. There must be drastic change in the political culture but not the Constitution if we are to prevent such disasters.

Minister Fonseka held the media, Print, Electronic and Social for the political catastrophic political development taking place in the country right now by distorting the thinking of the people and their attitude. One can’t forget the sins and crimes committed by someone only because the one who said he would do the needful to punish them failed in the act, he added.

“It is a major distortion and hoodwinking by the mainstream media that highlighted only the Central Bank bond scam and forced the country to forget all crimes of the Rajapaksa regime. If one takes the pain to calculate the total value of frauds, embezzlements, waste of public money and commissions taken by politicians and officials closed to Rajapaksaa, it would exceed the loss of Rs. 10 billion incurred from the CB bond scam,” he emphasized.

He said the unity government had passed a stormy period following the local government polls defeat, disintegration of the SLFP and several changes in the cabinet; all were the results of the weak performance of the government. Therefore, the government had to get its act together and work to fulfill pledges and provide relief to the people.

Minister Fonseka said Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was the most suitable politician in the UNP to contest the 2020 Presidential election and therefore all UNPers must support him and unite under him.

“I protected him from the very beginning and I will continue to do so in then future as well,” he added.
After the scathing report by Sarath Fonseka about President Maithripala Srisena, it was reported he met the President at his private office after the cabinet meeting on the th and tendered his apology to the President.
This was confirmed by the Cabinet Spokesperson Dr. Rajitha Senaratne.

Cabinet Spokesman and Minister Rajitha Senaratne on 11th confirmed that Minister Sarath Fonseka had expressed his regrets and apologized to President Maithripala Sirisena following the Cabinet meeting, over the critical comments he made against the President recently.

Minister Senaratne told the Cabinet briefing that Minister Fonseka had expressed his regrets over the statement he made saying that the decision taken to make Maithripala Sirisena the presidential candidate was a mistake.

Already on the 10th May, Minister Sarath Fonseka has said that he did not apologize to President Maithripala Sirisena, but only met him to discuss about recent political issues.

A statement issued by the Ministry of Sustainable Development, Wildlife and Regional Development revealed that Field Marshall Fonseka met both the President and the Prime Minister to discuss about the recent political issues based on a proposal made by the Premier.

“At the meeting, the President has said the prevailing issues could be discussed between him and the Minister in order to arrive at solutions instead of making statements about such issues to the media or at public meetings. Apart from this, no discussion was made with regard to any apology,” the statement said rejecting reports.

Strongly denying that he had apologized to President Maithripala Sirisena for his recent criticism of the latter, Minister Sarath Fonseka yesterday told that an attempt was being made to exploit his May 9 meeting with the President to tarnish his image.

Fonseka said that as Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and Development Strategies and International Trade Malik Samarawickrema were present when he met President Sirisena, they could vouch for his version of what transpired at the meeting.

Alleging that some interested party/parties had deliberately misled the media, Fonseka said that he would like to set the record straight.

"Let me explain the circumstances leading to May 9 meeting," Fonseka said, revealing that Premier Wickremesinghe and Minister Samarawickrema wanted him to meet President Sirisena. Fonseka said that Premier Wickremesinghe on May 8 in parliament and before the cabinet meeting on May 9 had told him of the need to meet President Sirisena, Fonseka said.

Responding to a query, the Field Marshal said that he was told of President Sirisena being perturbed over references to him since he received sustainable development, wildlife and regional development portfolios on May Day cabinet reshuffle.

Fonseka said: "Immediately after the conclusion of the cabinet meeting, three of us-PM, Minister Samarawickrema and I went into President’s private room where the brief discussion took place."

The former Army Chief quoted President Sirisena as having told the UNPers that as they were closely and affectionately associated with, there was no need to take up contentious matters on stage. Fonseka said that President Sirisena suggested that they could cordially discuss whatever outstanding matters. Fonseka said that he accepted President Sirisena’s suggestion and he along with Wickremesinghe and Samarawickrema left the Presidential Secretariat.

Fonseka emphasized that he hadn’t so far received a plausible explanation as to why President Sirisena declined to appoint him law and order minister.

After assuming the Sustainable Development, Wildlife and Regional Development Ministry on May 4, an irate Fonseka flayed President Sirisena for depriving him of law and order portfolio. Fonseka said that the claim he was denied the portfolio on the basis of opposition by some Deputy Inspector General (DIGs) of Police and Buddhist monks wasn’t acceptable.

Two days later, Fonseka declared at UNP May Day event at the Sugathadasa Indoor Stadium, in Wickremesinghe’s presence, that the fielding Maithripala Sirisena as the common candidate at January 2015 presidential poll was a grave mistake on their part. Fonseka claimed that he requested Wickremesinghe to contest the 2015 poll instead of fielding Sirisena.

Fonseka said that he was not in the habit of worshiping politicians. The minister stressed that vast majority of people expected him to receive law and order portfolio. In fact, during the previous administration, at a time when he was still in uniform, he was offered the post of Secretary Ministry of Law and Order and Prisons, Fonseka said, claiming that he refused to accept that offer.

Sagala Ratnayake gave up law and order portfolio soon after the UNP and the SLFP received a heavy drubbing at the Feb. 10 Local Government polls. Premier Wickremesinghe temporarily accepted the portfolio on Feb 25 pending fresh negotiations with President Sirisena to enable Fonseka to secure the portfolio. But, President Sirisena turned down the UNP request thereby compelling Wickremesinghe to offer that portfolio to Ranjith Madduma Bandara at the April 8 cabinet reshuffle. Subsequent efforts, too, failed to convince President Sirisena to offer the portfolio to Fonseka at the latest cabinet reshuffle effected on May Day.

Field Marshal said that the May 9 meeting was meant to settle issues between the partners. Unfortunately, interested parties had sought to create further chaos by trying to embarrass him. Responding to another query, Fonseka emphasized that he hadn’t retracted his statements, apologized or regretted.

Fonseka said that they couldn’t afford to ignore the need to introduce required changes to achieve political goals.

- Asian Tribune -

Battle of Nerves: Who is telling the Truth –  Rajitha Senaratne ? Sarath Fonseka?
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