Chairman of the Committee of Public Enterprises (COPE) MP Sunil Handunneththi today walked out of a meeting in protest against the UNP MPs demand that the Auditor General withdraw his statement with regard to the Central Bank Bond Scam.
An angry Handunneththi is reported to have walked out of the meeting which was held in the Parliament this evening, and had told the members of the committee to appoint an interim chairman.
Sources said that during the meeting, the UNP MPs in the COPE had been throwing their weight about and had insisted that the Auditor General withdraw his statement on the COPE report, where the Auditor General had implicated ex-Governor Arjuna Mahendran in the controversial Treasury Bond sale, which resulted in the country losing Rs. 1.6 billion.
Sources said that it was obvious that the UNP MPs were trying to protect Mahendran despite his wrongdoings.
During the meeting, the UNP MPs had insisted that more changes be made to the COPE report even though majority of the members in the committee had endorsed the report.
Meanwhile, the Colombo Telegraph learns that Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe who is leading the campaign to safeguard Mahendran, has ordered Sujeewa Senasinghe to raise a privilege issue in parliament against local media which has been mentioning and quoting COPE proceedings and the COPE report. Last year, Sujeewa Senasinghe filed a petition seeking an interim order preventing the publication or circulation of the COPE sub-committee report on the Central Bank bond issue. The Colombo District Court issued an enjoining order . Accordingly all media that reported on the COPE bond report were deemed guilty and punishable under the section 22 of the Parliamentary (Powers and Privileges) Act.