Professionals and civil society activists have raised concerns about Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) Presidential candidate Gotabaya Rajapaksa with his name failing to appear in the list of persons that have renounced their US citizenship, in the ‘Federal list’ valid as at 30 June, published on Thursday (15).
The documents published, which is similar to our Gazette notification, on a quarterly basis is mainly for tax purposes. The list issued in the first quarter for the year 2019 also did not carry the presidential hopeful’s name.
Constitutional lawyer Dr. Asanga Welikala, took to Twitter following the news stating “If Gotabaya Rajapaksa hasn’t fulfilled the legal requirements for election as President at the point of nomination – as there are serious questions – then regardless of party loyalties we must be able to agree that he cannot and must not be allowed to stand. Basic Legality”.
When Rajapaksa returned to the country concluding his last visit to the US, he said that steps had been taken to renounce his US citizenship during the visit. During this same period, he was also served summons of a legal action pursued the slain editor Lasantha Wickrematunge’s daughter Ahimsa claiming damages for being responsible for her father’s murder, while Rajapaksa was the Defence Secretary.
Soon after arriving in the country he again left for Singapore, in May this year, to obtain medical treatment. It is now revealed that Rajapaksa was issued a new local passport which he used for this trip. Civil Society activists Gamini Viyangoda and Chandraguptha Thenuwara has lodged a complaint with the police headquarters questioning how a US citizen has issued a Passport without him officially renouncing his US citizenship.
It has been also indicated that the new passport was issued with the assist of the Prime Minister and his top officials.
Minister Harsha de Silva too posted on twitter stating “Mr @GotabayaR’s name is not in the list of US citizens who had lost their citizenship as at 30 June 2019. Then how did he obtain Sri Lanka only citizenship in May 2019?”
In response SLPP Parliamentarian Namal Rajapaksa had stated that the minister should not be worrying about the SLPP candidate and if his documentation is in issue they will present if necessary. He further went on to say in his tweet that the Minister should rather be worrying about how to govern the country for the next few months to salvage it from its sorry state and also as to who can they put into the race.
Concerns are raised over the fact that even if Rajapaksa’s name makes it to the next list which is scheduled to come out only in mid-October, if it will be too late for him to be eligible to contest the elections.
The Elections Commission has previously stated, that if there are any concerns about a candidate’s citizenship anyone can petition the Supreme Court and that the Elections Commission can request that such determination is made within 14 days.