Colombo, November 10 (newsin.asia): The opposition Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) has denied rumors that its Presidential candidate, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, has not yet been released from US citizenship and therefore he cannot be the President of Sri Lanka even if he were to win the November 16 Presidential election.
SLPP stalwart and former Minister of Sports and Power, Mahindananda Aluthgamage said that Gotobaya Rajapaksa had been released from US citizenship and that all the supporting documents had been submitted to the Sri Lankan authorities before he was formally nominated as the party’s candidate.
“However, it takes up to even two years for the American authorities to make a public announcement of the release. The list containing his name may take a year to two to come out in the public domain. In the case of Milinda Moragoda it took two years,” Aluthgamage pointed out.
“Rumors about Mr.Rajapaksa’s disqualification are spread by the rivals as they are afraid of losing the election. We are not worried about such rumors as we are on firm ground,” the MP from Kandy district said.
As per the 19 th., Constitutional amendment passed in 2015, foreign citizens and dual citizens cannot make a bid for a political office in Sri Lanka. Gotabaya gave up his American citizenship when he decided to contest the Sri Lankan Presidency as the candidate of the SLPP, a party founded by his elder brother and former Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
But doubts about his release from US nationality were raised only to be rebutted with documentary evidence.
Two civil society activists had gone to court questioning the manner in which he was given dual citizenship in 2005, when his brother became Lankan President and wanted him to be his Defense Secretary. Gotabaya was a Lt.Colonel in the Sri Lankan army before he quit and went away to America. In the President’s view, he was best suited to be Defense Secretary.
The fact that President Rajapaksa, and not the Minister or Secretary of the Department of Immigration, signed the document giving Gotabaya Lankan citizenship became the subject matter of the court case filed by two civil society activists. But the defense lawyers said that the President could sign in the absence of Ministers and departmental Secretaries as he had “plenary powers”. In the short period between the election of a President and the appointment of new ministers and secretaries, the President has powers to function as a Minister and a Departmental Secretary. The court endorsed the contentions of the defense counsels.
In the meanwhile, Ahimsa Wickramatunge, daughter of slain Sunday Leader editor Lasantha Wickramatunge, had filed a civil suit in the US accusing Gotabaya Rajapaksa of being the man behind the killing of her father in 2008. But the suit was dismissed. Later, a Tamil man claiming that he was tortured badly in custody also filed a case in a US court accusing Gotabaya of responsibility for it.
The Sri Lankan opposition led by civil society activists and a large section of the media has been trying hard to portray Gotabaya Rajapaksa as a ruthless person who showed it when he was Defense Secretary during the war against the Tamil militants between 2006 and 2009 and subsequently against political critics. He has been linked with the so-called “white van abductions” leading to disappearances.
But Gotabaya’s contention has been that he could not be held directly responsible for the alleged excesses and also that in fighting a war against a ruthless enemy like the Tamil Tigers stern measures are called for. He claimed that bombs ceased to go off in Colombo after he broke the terror network and sleepers cells in the capital city by stern measures.
A Buddhist monk, Ven. Inguruwatte Sumangala Thero, is on a fast seeking proof from Gotabaya that he has indeed renounced US citizenship. He has given the Presidential candidate three days to submit the proof.