Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who once snubbed the international community has turned to United Nations Security General Ban Ki-moon, seeking his intervention to restore the Army protection provided to him.
In a petition addressed to the UN Chief and Human Rights Commissioner, Rajapaksa’s media division who initiated the campaign on change.org has claimed that following the government’s decision to withdraw army protection from the former President, he has the risk of being assassinated as he is considered anti-LTTE and is instrumental in defeating the terrorist outfit.
“Due to the pressure of the current government leaders of Sri Lanka, the Sri Lankan Army Commander has ordered to remove the Army personnel providing security to former President Mahinda Rajapaksa. The particular Army squad consists of 89 soldiers and the majority are commandos, who are highly trained to protect the VVIP in any situation,” the petition said.
Citing reasons further, the petition said that the recent discovery of several suicide jackets and C4 explosives along with firearms, were all causes for concern and the government’s failure to repair Rajapaksa’s bullet proof vehicle that met with an accident several months back is yet another reason which increases his vulnerability.
Meanwhile, Rajapaksa declared that even though his security was removed he still had the self-satisfaction that he was able eliminate the fear of war from the minds of the people. “Even though I may no longer have my security beside me, I will always have the self-satisfaction that I was able to eliminate the fear of war from all of you,” he said in a post on his official Facebook page.
Speaking in Parliament, just minutes before clashes erupted between MPs this afternoon, Minister of Regional Development, Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka recalled how the security of former President Chandrika Kumaratunga was drastically pruned from 60 to 30 during Rajapaksa’s era. Kumaratunga narrowly escaped an assassination attempt in 1999 when a suicide bomber triggered the explosive device at the final presidential election rally in Colombo. She sustained injuries to her right eye and face, while the blast claimed over 30 lives.
“Mahinda Rajapaksa, who is just a Parliamentarian, cannot protest about his security being replaced with police. He should be grateful that he at least has sufficient police security,” Fonseka said.
Fonseka also disclosed that he has a security detail of just 15 policemen. “So if the Army Commander who won the war is provided with just 15 policemen, then I don’t see why a former President who is now a mere Parliamentarian wants massive security detail,” Fonseka added.
He also faulted former Defence Ministry Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa and said he should take the responsibility for the killing Major General (Retired) Janaka Perera in 2008 at a rally in Anuradhapura. Fonseka said that Perera and his wife died due to the insufficient security provided on Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s orders. According to Fonseka, at the time Perera was killed, he only had six police officers as his security detail. Major General Perera was also the opposition leader of the North Central Provincial Council at the time he was killed.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe informed Parliament that it was the police that was providing security for him as well as President Maithripala Sirisena. (By Munza Mushtaq © Colombo Telegraph)