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Ex-President Sirisena draws an India connection - EDITORIAL

08 Apr 2024 - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}      

Ex-President Sirisena is once again in the news for all the wrong reasons. Hardly had the ink dried on news stories of his sudden firing of three senior Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) members, we learned that a court order has barred him from performing duties as chairman of that party.

The court order was based on a complaint to the court by Chandrika Kumaratunga for the removal of Sirisena from the post of SLFP Chairman, on the grounds he was unsuitable for the role. Among the reasons for his ouster were charges he was unlawfully holding the Chairmanship of the party in violation of the Party Constitution. 

Additional charges arose from Sirisena’s actions during the constitutional crisis of 2018 being deemed incorrect. He was also found guilty of having violated the fundamental rights of people in the case of the Easter Sunday bombings. 

A week earlier, Sirisena was once again in the news -this time shooting off his mouth that he knew as to who the masterminds behind the Easter Sunday bombings of 2019 were. 

In those killings over 250 innocent people lost their lives while 500 were injured. Most of those killed were Sri Lankans, but at least 38 foreigners were among the dead, including British, Indian, Danish, Dutch, Swiss, Spanish, US, Australian and Turkish nationals. According to UNICEF at least 45 of those who lost their lives in the attacks were children.

Sirisena was President of the country when the blood bath occurred, but was in Singapore. He had flown there directly after an official visit to India. However, he did not return to the country immediately.

Media reports claimed he had gone shopping for the wedding of his son. Sirisena however claimed he was in Singapore for medical reasons. He produced documents claiming he had taken several tests at the Mount Elizabeth Hospital. 

It brings to mind the stories of convicted mass murderer Duminda Silva spread of his medical treatment in Singapore where he fled with official connivance. But, ‘though the wheels of justice turn slowly, they grind exceedingly fine’, and Silva is now behind bars.
Fortunately, Public Security Minister called on the police to question Sirisena. Otherwise we may have had India demanding an explanation of Sirisena’s outburst.

In his statement to the police, Sirisena claimed India was behind the massacre. He also claimed an unnamed Indian diplomat passed the information to him. He added the atrocity was committed as India had not been given any large projects in this country for example the Mattala Mahinda Rajapaksa International Airport! 

Sirisena provided no proof to back his outlandish allegations. Nor did he report this ‘fresh evidence’ he claims to be privy to, to investigating authorities. Rather he casually informed a group of reporters of it.
Does our ex-president take the people of this country to be fools? If he does, we cannot blame him. After all, ‘we the people’ elected him to the highest political office in this country.

Today Lankans tend to dismiss Sirisena as a simpleton. The fact remains he is a former head of state and his statements carry weight. His latest outburst has every possibility of damaging relations between us and our giant neighbour who has also been extremely supportive of Lanka during our financial meltdown. India provided us with a credit line of around $4 billion at a time when others refused us credit. 

The timing of his statement is also questionable. Both India and Lanka are in the midst of an election campaign. Indian Opposition parties may well latch onto the claim for political reasons.
In Lanka, it could stir anti-Indian anti Tamil feelings.

For far too long, political opportunists have used blatant untruths to gain political advantage. Lies and falsehoods created the conditions for the outbreak of our nearly thirty-year civil war. Now the progeny of those who bred racial disharmony are seemingly moving into international waters, provoking sleeping giants.
The government must act firmly, decisively and quickly.
The full weight of the law needs to be applied to these rogue elements -even to the extent of bringing them before court if necessary.