Asked specifically if he was aware of the existence of a ‘special unit’ established to attack journalists, as alleged by former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka, former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa yesterday asked “whose unit? Under whom?” and held that the army commander was responsible for every single soldier. “My security was selected by Sarath Fonseka. Even my officers reported to his seniors."
His job as defence secretary was at a strategic, higher level and he did not get involved at the tactical level, he said, responding to questions at a forum with the Foreign Correspondents Association in Colombo yesterday.
Responding to questions regarding charges that army intelligence officers were involved in enforced disappearances, he said these were ‘baseless’ and ‘politically motivated’ allegations. Accusing Fonseka of saying things in anger, he asked how Fonseka could maintain that he did not know what intelligence personnel working under him were doing.
Rajapaksa also said that foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera could have got a better outcome at the recent Human Rights council session in Geneva had he correctly understood the changes that have come about in the US administration.
US President Donald Trump has said he wants to ‘look inward and not outward’ and our government should be able to use that opportunity, he said.
Rajapaksa blamed US State Departments officials of the Obama administration like Samantha Power and Susan Rice for targeting Sri Lankan security forces in the 2015 Geneva resolution, to which Sri Lanka renewed its commitment in a follow-up resolution this year. He remarked that these officials were focused on human rights, R2P etc. and that Power would ‘probably write a book about how she succeeded in changing the government.’ “That’s where the resolution came from” he said.
Analyzing the changing US attitude to Sri Lanka he said that when he was Defence Secretary, the US wanted to help and they assisted by giving the intelligence coordinates to locate the LTTE ships. Bob Blake who was US ambassador at the time asked the government to sign the Acquisition and Cross Service Agreement to show the world that the US was ‘behind Sri Lanka.’ With the change of government and with Obama coming to power there was a ‘definite change’ in the attitude to the war, he said.
On the question of whether he would enter politics as a presidential candidate, the former president’s brother said he had not decided. However he recalled that he came from a ‘political family’ whose association with politics went back to 1935, and that he had the capability to “do something for the country.”