Former Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera defended his decision to approve funds for the transport of IDPs from Puttalam to the Northern province to cast their ballots in the November 2019 presidential election and denounced his five hour interrogation at the CID on Thursday (14) as a political witch-hunt.
The former finance minister said the interrogation was aimed at the coming election.
“This is the usual Rajapaksa way,” Samaraweera told reporters outside the CID late Thursday. The last time the Rajpaaksa regime was in power he had been grilled at the CID three times Samaraweera recalled. “They tried to destroy me mentally. I want to warn the Rajapaksa Government. You’re messing with the wrong man. Bring on the attacks. The more you attack me the stronger I become,” he said.
Samaraweera told the media that the monies were approved at the request of the Northern Rehabilitation Department for displaced persons whose ballots were several hundred miles away in the Northenr Province even though they had lived in camps in Puttalam for 30 years. “They are victims of LTTE terrorism and were evicted from Jaffna and other parts of the Northern Province by the Tigers in 1990. As Governments before us have done we did the responsible thing and guaranteed their right to vote,” Samaraweera told the media after his interrogation.
“We are talking about an extraordinary group of citizens. These are people who have suffered for 30 years. They are people that no Government has done anything for over three decades. All of us have to take responsibility for that. Their franchise has been affected by terrorism,” he said.
Samaraweera said he was happy to have ensured he had been able to help citizens victimized by LTTE terrorism had been guaranteed their vote. “I told the CID I am proud of that,” he added.
Samaraweera said that he had approved funds for CTB buses to be hired for the purpose of transporting these voters to their areas to cast their votes. “Basil Rajapaksa did the same during his Government. We never lodged complaints about it because they are citizens and it is the duty of the Government of the day to ensure every citizen is facilitated to cast their vote. This is their most sacred constitutional right,” he added.
Samaraweera said his “marathon” interrogation had gone on for 5 hours and 15 minutes and said he had been told to return next Tuesday to continue answering questions.
Colombo Telegraph learns that the Government is hoping to make sure that Rajitha Senaratne, Mangala Samaraweera and Champika Ranawaka are behind bars during the parliamentary election season in order to disrupt and damage the opposition campaign. Senaratne was remanded by High Court Judge Manjula Tilakratne until May 27th and Ranawaka is currently out on bail on a trumped up manslaughter charge. Opposition activists worried Samaraweera will be arrested next time he is questioned by the CID.
“They are taking this country towards destruction. All those who believe in democracy must come together to defeat this Government and its militarization and fascism,” Samaraweera urged. (By Chinthika De Silva)