Sameera Manahara, a very close associate of Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera, who is also his Public Relations Officer announced his resignation today from his post to save the Minister from what he termed was ‘a well-planned conspiracy mooted by certain groups with vested interest to sling mud at the Minister and the Yahapalanaya government.’
In a letter addressed to Samaraweera today, August 8, 2017, Manahara who was arrested by police for allegedly possessing drugs said, “even though my innocence is clear and hence I was released on bail by the Mount Lavinia Magistrate, it is obvious there is an attempt to use this incident to tarnish your image. So, I will resign from my position as the Public Relations Officer until I am proven innocent in courts in this case.”
On August 5th, police arrested Manahara and several of his friends for the possession of cocaine, methamphetamine pills and hashish while they were travelling in a luxury jeep. One of Manahara’s friends had confessed to the police that the drugs belonged to him, and not the others, and subsequently, the friend who confessed was remanded, while Manahara and the rest of his other friends were released on bail. There were also reports in the media that the police was under immense pressure to release Manahara following his arrest.
Meanwhile, Samaraweera’s Media Secretary Asita Rajapakse in a statement said that various media websites were publishing baseless allegations against the minister to tarnish his image, when it was clear that the Minister’s Public Relations officer was not directly involved in the drug possession.
In 2015, allegations were thrown at Samaraweera due to his alleged ‘relationship’ with Manahara, where the finance minister, who was then the foreign minister, had taken Manahara to New York on an official trip to the US where he had spent time with him at the luxurious Four Seasons Hotel in New York. “Manahara was also my Public Relations Officer at the Ministry of Ports and Aviation between 2004 and 2007. During my seven years in the Opposition he was one of my principal coordinators and campaign managers.” Samaraweera’s office then Told Colombo Telegraph.