Colombo, Feb 3 (DailyMirror) – Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa put his foot in his mouth this week when he made a startling revelation to a Sinhala newspaper stating that during the height of Sri Lanka’s civil war, Sri Lanka had purchased weapons from North Korea using dollars sourced from the Black Market, a statement which the army is clearly unaware of.
Field Marshall Sarath Fonseka, who was the Army Commander at the height of Sri Lanka’s civil war told Daily Mirror last evening that as far as weapons purchased for the Sri Lanka Army was concerned, during the conflict, Sri Lanka purchased weapons from NORINCO in China, on credit.
The multi-barrels were purchased from Czechoslovakia and when Sri Lanka had an issue purchasing weapons from China during the Beijing Olympics, during this period
Sri Lanka purchased 65 million dollars worth of weapons from Pakistan. “So as far as the army was concerned, we got all our weapons and ammunition from Norinco China. They were all on credit. There was a bonded warehouse. Artillery everything came from China. For those arms and ammunition, Sri Lanka has been paying the credit up to about 2020. Payments were being made up to 2020. Other than from China, we only purchased the multi-barrel rockets from Czechoslovakia as far as I remember. And when there was a problem of getting ammunition during the Olympics periods in Beijing, the army purchased ammunition worth US 65 million dollars from Pakistan,” Fonseka said.
“The army had nothing to do with North Korea,” he added.
Rajapaksa, in his controversial statement, which he has now denied, said that when the war was going on, Sri Lanka also needed dollars to pay for the fuel shipments and he along with other officials would visit the `Pettah’ Business District in Colombo, where he spoke with traders to secure dollars in the black market.
He also alleged that during the height of the civil war, Sri Lanka purchased weapons from North Korea using money sourced from the Black Market. The revelation sparked an immediate outcry as North Korea has been subjected to several United Nations-backed sanctions which ban the trade of several arms and military equipment.
To add immediate damage control, Foreign Minister G. L. Peiris was quick to release a statement this week stating that after seeing the media report, he had spoken in this regard with his Cabinet colleague and Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa, who had categorically denied the comments attributed to him in the said news item. (Jamila Husain)