Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe helped ex Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa to obtain a new passport through the intervention of his Internal Affairs Minister Wajira Abeywardena Colombo Telegraph learns.
The revelation puts a new twist on wide speculation for months now that the current prime minister and Gotabaya Rajapaksa are “thick as thieves,” a senior UNP MP said.
Wickremesinghe also knew that the former defence secretary would not have a problem relinquishing his US citizenship well ahead of the 2019 presidential election, sources told Colombo Telegraph. It is learnt that the Prime Minister had ensured Rajapaksa that the path would be smoothed for him in Colombo if he managed to get US authorities to release him in time for the poll.
Colombo Telegraph learns that Abeywardena, whose ministry includes the Registrar of Persons and Immigration Department, intervened to ensure Rajapaksa obtained a new National ID and passport the next working day after he received his certificate of citizenship renunciation from the US Embassy in Colombo. Details have already come to light that Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s passport was issued without him ever being personally present at the Department of Immigration and that his documents had been accepted after counters had been closed.
The revelations are further confirmed by the news that Chief of Staff to the Prime Minister Sagala Ratnayaka was at Rajapaksa’s Mirihana residence on Sunday (4th August) and seen by UNP chairman Kabir Hashim when he sought to pay the former defence sectretary to inquire after his health. Hashim saw Ratnayaka skulking around the house and rushed out after a quick greeting since the pair appeared to be in deep discussion.
PM Wickremesinghe appears to have struck a deal with Rajapaksa to ensure his protection and survival after the election. Wickremesinghe wants to keep control of the UNP and continue as Opposition Leader even under a Gotabaya Presidency.
Colombo Telegraph can also reveal that Wickremesinghe’s niece Ishini Wickremesinghe who currently serves as a consultant to the PM’s chief of staff, made open declarations during the October 2018 failed coup that if her uncle was not made the UNP candidate, her family would back Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s presidential campaign.
Supporters of Gotabaya Rajapaksa have similarly threatened Mahinda Rajapaksa that if Gotabaya is not given the SLPP candidacy, they too will rebel against the former president and throw their support behind Ranil Wickremesinghe.
Gotabaya Rajapaksa, through Dilith Jayaweera, is very close to bond scam mastermind Arjun Aloysius, who has promised to bankroll the Rajapaksa campaign in exchange for a promise that his family and Ranil Wickremesinghe will be protected if Gotabaya becomes President.
When Gotabaya Rajapaksa was surprised in a LA car park by summons in a case filed by the daughter of murdered Sunday Leader Editor Lasantha Wickrematunge, he called Dilith Jayaweera who was in Colombo at the time for advice. Ishini Wickremesinghe who was with Jayaweera reportedly assured Rajapaksa that she would speak with her uncle and ensure officials in Sri Lanka do not cooperate with the civil suit accusing Rajapaksa of murdering Lasantha. Attempts were made through the Prime Minister”s office to influence officials at the AG’s Department into ensuring public officials including the Police do not cooperate with Ahimsa Wickrematunge’s lawyers.
During the coup, Ishini Wickremesinghe helped to arrange the meeting between Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Ranil Wickremesinghe at Temple Trees. To date no one knows what transpired during the closed door one-on-one pow wow.
Wickremesinghe’s niece is also unofficially the head of propaganda for the Prime Minister’s presidential campaign.
A Gotabaya presidency puts scores of activists, politicians and journalists at risk of violence and intimidation. “Ranil only cares about his own post election survival. He does not seem to worry about how a Gota victory will impact those who fought to bring the UNP to power in January 2015 and August 2015. The extent of the violence Gotabaya is capable of is already public knowledge. We are finished, not only politically, but our lives will be ended,” said one terrified UNP MP who did not wish to be named.