Rajapaksa making plans to contest for top seat again
Basil announces re-entry to party politics
Divide and rule has been the policy of the Rajapaksas that was clearly witnessed during Mahinda Rajapaksa’s first term in office. Rajapaksa ensured that divisions and political defections plagued the main political parties enabling him to create an environment where he could rule as he pleased with minimal opposition.
The Rajapaksa clan is once again trying to create a division and this time around, the targets are Wickremesinghe and Sirisena.
A group of Rajapaksa loyalists in the joint opposition are currently engaged in a covert operation to seek the support of the United National Party (UNP) led by Wickremesinghe to abolish the executive presidency.
The meeting between Wickremesinghe and Rajapaksa took place on Tuesday (5) at the parliamentary complex and opposition MP Dinesh Gunawardena was also present at the discussion.
Although the meeting was publicized as one that was aimed at discussing security issues of the former President, the discussion was focused on two issues – the abolition of the executive presidency and the incumbent government’s relations with China. Interestingly, Wickremesinghe-Rajapaksa pow-wow took place on the eve of the former’s official visit to China.
During the meeting, Rajapaksa had questioned Wickremesinghe on the UNP’s stance on abolishing the executive presidency. The Premier has responded saying that the UNP was prepared to honour the pledge made during the last presidential election and has already submitted a draft proposal on the matter to the SLFP.
Wickremesinghe further observed that the party would proceed after looking at the proposals presented by the SLFP as well. However, Rajapaksa quickly responded saying that the opposition would fully support the abolition of the executive presidency. Following the meeting with Wickremesinghe, Rajapaksa made a public comment calling for the abolition of the executive presidency and the introduction of electoral reforms, both of which were promised by President Sirisena during the last presidential election.
Be that as it may, the latest political development disturbed many SLFP members loyal to Sirisena as soon as news of the meeting started to trickle out.
However, apart from SLFPers some members in the joint opposition who have remained silent on the issue of abolishing the executive presidency were also perturbed as Rajapaksa’s public statement with regard to the executive presidency was made without their knowledge.
The extremist elements in the joint opposition like Dinesh Gunawardena, Wimal Weerawansa and Udaya Gammanpila have not spoken in favour of the abolition of the executive presidency.
Rajapaksa’s actions last week have further alienated the likes of MP Dullas Alahapperuma who have claimed that while being in the joint opposition the SLFP members in the UPFA opposition would work in support of President Sirisena, but act against the UNP. The meeting Rajapaksa had last week with Wickremesinghe and the declaration of support for the abolition of the executive presidency are now clear indications that the Rajapaksas are trying to strike a deal with the UNP against the President.
According to reports, one of the key members involved in the former President’s latest political move is brother and former minister Basil Rajapaksa.
A few days after the Wickremesinghe-Rajapaksa meeting, Basil was quoted as saying he was prepared to recommence party politics.
The Rajapaksas are looking at killing two birds with one stone. Apart from trying to drive a wedge between Wickremesinghe and Sirisena, the Rajapaksa clan is looking at destroying Sirisena’s political future while striking a clear deal to ensure protection for the members of the former First Family who are currently facing many charges.
The former President wants to pave the way to be able to contest for the post of prime minister at the next decisive election while ensuring that Sirisena would not be able to win at such a poll. The conspiracy the Rajapaksas are working on is a model where Wickremesinghe would post a resounding victory effortlessly while Rajapaksa and Sirisena would lose due to the split in the SLFP.
Then the icing on the cake would be for the Rajapaksas to walk away free without being probed and prosecuted for the charges faced by them. The Rajapaksas believe that they could strike a deal on the matter with Wickremesinghe by showing the win-win scenario for the UNP, Wickremesinghe and eventually the Rajapaksas.
The investigations being carried out into the allegations faced by the former first family has become a sword of Damocles hanging over Rajapaksa’s head. However, Sirisena has continuously maintained so far that the abolition of the executive presidency was a matter for the parliament to decide.
Meanwhile, the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) has reportedly managed to uncover details of several murders allegedly committed by members of the military intelligence unit for political and personal reasons.
A weekly Sinhala newspaper recently reported that the murders include the killings of politician-soldier Major Lucky Algama and STF chief SSP Upul Seneviratne.
Details of these killings have reportedly come to light in the course of CID investigations into the disappearance of journalist Prageeth Eknaligoda.
These details have been revealed in documents handed over, following a court order, by the military intelligence to the CID. According to reports, the murders had been committed with the use of links maintained by members of military intelligence with top LTTE figures at the time.
It was the military intelligence that had planned the suicide bomb attack that claimed the life of Algama at a UNP rally in Ja-ela on December 18, 1999.
The confirmation has been made in a report submitted to the Security Council by then CID director, DIG O. K. Hemachandra who had investigated the incident.
Hemachandra’s report had alleged that a former military intelligence chief, now a retired major general, was responsible for Algama’s killing.
The top LTTE figure who had supervised the suicide bomber has had close connections with this major general. Hemachandra, according to the news report, had sought Defence Ministry permission to arrest him, but the investigation was covered up, saying the military could get discouraged.
The Algama murder and the investigation took place during the tenure of President Chandrika Kumaratunge.
Meanwhile, the CID has also revealed that personal enmity had led to the fatal claymore mine attack on SSP Seneviratne and his driver at Digana town in Kandy on August 7, 2006, the news report also notes.
Three persons connected to the incident are being questioned at present.
The involvement of military intelligence personnel in several high profile murders in the past few years has raised many eyebrows and questions are being raised on how the government plans to address the issue.
Investigations conducted by the CID have resulted in many fingers being pointed to members of the defence establishment and former heads of the defence establishment.
Focus on Fonseka and Gota
However, in relation to the alleged involvement of military personnel in several murders, a question that still begs answers is the delay on the part of the law enforcement authorities to interrogate the former heads of the country’s defence establishment.
In the case of attacks, disappearances and murder of journalists in the past nine years, the law enforcement authorities have yet failed to question former Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and former Army Commander, Field Marshal MP Sarath Fonseka.
While the probe on the murder of founding Editor of The Sunday Leader, Lasantha Wickematunge has led to several military intelligence personnel, both Gotabhaya and Fonseka are yet to be questioned.
There have been many questions by members in the media fraternity over the need for the CID to interrogate former Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and Field Marshal MP Sarath Fonseka over Wickrematunge’s murder.
While former Army chief Sarath Fonseka has told the media that investigations into the Lasantha murder were on a wrong line, the former Defence Secretary posed a challenge to the current good governance administration.
Gotabhaya Rajapaksa a few weeks back called on the authorities to investigate the murder of the founding Editor of The Sunday Leader Lasantha Wickrematunge.
Speaking to reporters after making a statement at the Presidential Commission of Inquiry to investigate and inquire into serious acts of Fraud, Corruption and Abuse of Power (PRECIFAC) a few weeks back, Rajapaksa said that while there is a push to investigate the alleged ‘white flag’ incident there must also be a proper investigation on Wickrematunga’s murder.
The CID, it is learnt, has summoned former head of the Terrorism Investigations Division (TID), retired DIG C. N. Wagista, to obtain a statement over allegedly concealing evidence as well as ensuring the discharge of the suspects involved in the murder of the founding Editor of The Sunday Leader, Lasantha Wickematunge from TID custody. The CID has also summoned then OIC of the TID, presently Tangalle ASP Prasanna Alwis.
The CID is currently seeking legal advice from the Attorney General on re-interrogating one of the main suspects in the Wickrematunge murder, military intelligence officer, Kandegedara Piyawansa.
Piyawansa was arrested during the initial probe into Wickrematunge’s murder and was later acquitted from the case after he made a dock statement following a threat to expose persons involved in the assassination.
The Sunday Leader learns that the CID has informed court that it has made a clear progress in the Lasantha Wickrematunge murder case and arrests related to the assassination that took place on January 8, 2009 would take place shortly.