Amidst much hue and cry that the military security given to former President Mahinda Rajapaksa was stripped on a government order, it has now come to light that Rajapaksa continues to enjoy military security, despite initial reports that his military security detail was stripped and replaced with police.
According to reports, Rajapaksa who left for Uganda on a ticket bought from public money, had with him four army personnel, including a Major and a Colonel as part of his security detail that accompanied him. The request for the foreign ministry to bear the cost of Rajapaksa’s ticket was also sanctioned by Foreign Minister Mangala Saramaweera.
According to highly placed sources, it appears that the Yahapalanaya Government led by President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe are playing it to the gallery, attempting to appease the public by showing as if action is taken on certain matters, whilst in reality things are not what they are portrayed to be.
Rajapaksa who was accompanied by Gamini Lokuge, Lohan Ratwatte, Dhanasiri Amaratunga and Udith Lokubandara, was also accompanied by; Major Neville Wanniarachchi, Colonel Mahendra Sampath, Saman Amarasinghe and Harsha Wickramarachchi. It is learnt that even the registration numbers of the vehicles, including the Army vehicle bearing license plate ARMY 50551, which transported Rajapaksa’s security detail, was forwarded to officials at the Bandaranaike International Airport, to obtain approval to enter the VIP area of the airport.
Early this month, the government announced that the military security provided to Rajapaksa had being withdrawn and it was replaced with policemen including members of the Special Task Force. Rajapaksa reportedly had a security detail of 102 personnel, which included five Army Majors and 45 Commandos.
Rajapaksa’s trip to Uganda also plunged into controversy over the weekend, after reports revealed that Rajapaksa’s Business and First Class airfare from Colombo – Uganda – Colombo was paid for by the Foreign Ministry. The former President was invited on a personal capacity to participate in the fifth swearing in ceremony of Uganda’s controversial President, Yoweri Museveni.