t is taken as a fact that Lakshman Kadirgamar -- Foreign Minister from 1994 to 2005 with a three-year break in-between -- was Sri Lanka’s best diplomat who played a major role in getting the LTTE banned as a terrorist group in the United States and the European Union. His outstanding diplomatic skills helped Sri Lanka to go through some of the worst years of the war and win international support from the United States and Western Europe, India, Russia and China till he was assassinated on August 12, 2005.
In Parliament last Friday, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe dropped a bombshell relating to the assassination of former foreign minister Kadirgamar by the LTTE. Speaking during the two-day debate on the Geneva Resolution, the Prime Minister charged that about three months after the assassination of Mr. Kadirgamar a huge amount was paid to the LTTE to prevent several hundred thousand North-Eastern people from voting at the November 2005 presidential election. Mr. Wickremesinghe who lost this election to Mahinda Rajapaksa by about 150,000 votes charged that the deals with the LTTE had paved the way for the Rajapaksa victory. He asked whether there was a link between the Kadirgamar assassination and the payment of the huge sum to the LTTE.
The Prime Minster challenged former president Rajapaksa to respond to the disclosures or allegations he was making. The former president, now the UPFA’s Kurunegala district parliamentarian, was allocated 15 minutes to respond to the charges, but he did not turn up in parliament.
The Prime Minister during the debate also made other serious allegations against what he described as a so-called patriotic group around the former president. The premier referred to last week’s visit of Japan’s Moto Noguchi who was in charge of the victims’ fund of the International Criminal Court and was Special Prosecutor in the Prosecutor’s Office in Japan. The Japanese prosecutor had been invited to come on January 10 this year, after the presidential election, to help investigate alleged war crimes. Mr. Wickremesinghe said the former President’s coterie had been accusing him, President Maithripala Sirisena and former President Chandrika Bandaranaike of acting like traitors. But the premier said that he was now disclosing details and would disclose more for the people to see who indeed were acting like traitors.
Referring to the white-flag issue, Mr. Wickremesinghe claimed, “this issue came up when the LTTE leaders and others were coming with white flags. The Commanding Officers on the spot should have decided whether that was a genuine surrender or a ploy to carry out an assault. But in this instance, the decision came from Colombo and was passed down to the Army. It was not a decision taken on the battlefield. Why did that happen? Whom did they want to rescue? They wanted to safeguard Pulidevan who made that deal of taking money in exchange for the LTTE telling the people to boycott the 2005 presidential elections. We will speak the truth. Who gave money to save Pulidevan? Who put the deal through during the presidential election of 2005? There are people here who are aware of it. The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) members are aware of it. What is the truth? What was the need for Pulidevan to be rescued? But Pulidevan should be held responsible for the destruction caused to the Tamils. If Pulidevan was not there Mr. Rajapaksa could not have come into power. It should have been a decision of the Army to accept the surrender or not to accept those coming with white flags.”
The Prime Minister also charged that it was the former president who was responsible for the initiation of the international inquiry. When the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon visited Sri Lanka soon after the war ended, he and the former President had signed an agreement saying they would inquire into allegations on violations of human rights and international humanitarian law.
The Prime Minister made this disclosure within the confines of parliamentary privileges. The former president has a duty and responsibility to respond in parliament. In any case such serious allegations need to be properly probed.