Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday said lawyers of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa could obtain a restraining order against the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption (CIABOC) if the latter does not want to be questioned.Wickremesinghe was responding to calls from Opposition MPs to stop harassing former President Mahinda Rajapaksa by summoning him before the CIABOC.
Opposition MPs protesting the decision to summon former President Mahinda Rajapaksa before the Bribery Commission said they will call off their continuous fast only after Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa officially announces his ruling on the issue to the House this morning.
Western Provincial Councillors and Gampaha District local government members have decided to skip a ceremony today to welcome former Minister Basil Rajapaksa Today (21) at the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA).
Former Minister Basil Rajapaksa will be…
Chairman of the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption (CIABOC) in a discussion held with Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa had agreed to evolve a new mechanism to not harass parliamentarians when investigating complaints against them, Chandima Weerakkody said.
By Saman Indrajith
Opposition MPs and some ministers of the UPFA commenced a continuous fast in the Well of Parliament yesterday demanding that the government immediately put an end to what they called a political witch hunt against Opposition politicians including former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and ex-defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa.
The hunger strike commenced in protest against summoning former President Mahinda Rajapaksa to the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption for appointing former UNP General Secretary Tissa Attanayake, MP the Minister of Health prior to the last presidential election.
Addressing a press conference held at the Parliamentary Complex, UPFA Colombo District MP Bandula Gunawardena said that MPs would not give up their protest until an assurance was given by incumbent President Maithripala Sirisena that harassing of the former President would be ended.
“This is the first time in our parliamentary history that MPs have commenced a hunger strike in Parliament.”
He said that Chief Opposition Whip John Seneviratne had contacted President Maithripala Sirisena over the issue and the latter had responded that he was not aware of the issue. “The President asked MP Seneviratne to forward him a letter signed by MPs against the harassment of the former President. 56 including UPFA ministers in the present government have already signed it.”
The letter that was handed over to President Sirisena stated that the summoning of former President to the CIABOC over appointing MP Attanayake as a Minister in his government was unconstitutional. It read: “Making a ministerial position cannot be considered an act of bribery. If such an act becomes a bribe, an executive president would never be able to perform the duties expected of him or her. The explanation given by the Prime Minister over the issue in parliament implies that this act of harassing the former President was a part of a conspiracy by the UNP to bring you and the incumbent government into disrepute.
“Former Secretary to the Defence Ministry Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, who rendered a yeoman service to liberate the motherland from LTTE terrorism, too, has been summoned to the CIABOC. We have also brought to the notice of this august assembly that large number of MPs, their spouses and children are being conharassed in violation of parliamentarians’ privileges. During a debate in the House today, the Prime Minister admitted that the Director General of the CIABOC and her husband were close friends of his. Under this situation, we seek your immediate intervention as the President of the country to stop immoral and illegal conduct of the CIABOC. We further inform you that the fast unto death campaign we commenced this morning would continue until you take necessary action to stop illegal persecution of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa.” Copies of the latter were circulated among journalists at the press conference.
Addressing the media, NFF Leader Wimal Weerawansa said that former President Rajapaksa and ex-defence secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa were being hounded by the government to please the international community and the pro-LTTE groups. “The hunters are the ones who opposed war and criticised the security forces. The hunted are the ones who waged a war and defeated terrorism.”
Kalutara District MP Kumara Welgama said that the incumbent opposition leader was not taking part in the protest. “He should have been with us today,” MP Welgama said.
MP Dallas Alahapperuma said that the CIABOC was working according to a political agenda. “It cannot question a President for exercising his constitutional powers to appoint a minister. The CIABOC has summoned businessman ASP Liyanage for giving a house to former President. Now, 101 days of this government have lapsed, but so far it has not been able to give an official residence to former President who has no house to stay in when he comes to Colombo. Thus, Liyanage gave him a house.
MPs Rohitha Abygunawardena, Ranjith Zoysa, Mahindananada Aluthgamage addressed the press.
President Maithripala arrived in Parliament around 2.30 pm and held talks with the protesting MPs, the Speaker, UPFA and SLFP leaders and the PM in a bid to find a solution, but the agitation continued until this edition went to press.