By Shailendree Wickrama Adittiya
Refocusing attention on Sri Lanka Podujana Party (SLPP) presidential candidate Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s United States (US) citizenship renunciation issue is a last-ditch attempt by supporters of New Democratic Front presidential candidate Sajith Premadasa to stave off defeat, claimed Professionals Intervention for Policy Dialogue’s (PIPD) Dr. Charitha Herath yesterday.
“Gotabaya Rajapaksa came forth as the SLPP candidate because there was no doubt about him meeting the requirements to run for the presidency,” Herath said, adding that while anyone can have suspicions over another’s citizenship, there was a due process to be followed when acting on those suspicions.
Dr. Herath commented on the issue at a press conference held by the PIPD along with actor Ravindra Randeniya, musician Rohana Weerasinghe, and lyricist Bandula Nanayakkarawasam.
While the artistes spoke about the decline of their respective industries in the past five years, Charitha Herath stressed on the sudden vocalisation of issues regarding Rajapaksa’s US citizenship. “Now that there is nothing left for them to do, the opposing political camp is making last-minute allegations without even taking the matter to courts,” Dr. Herath said. He also pointed out that certain topics that have been featured in the DNF campaign, including the Central Bank bond scam, ‘white van’ abductions, and the sale of the Army headquarters land could have been acted upon, as the United National Party (UNP) has been in power since 2015.
“This is a presidential candidate from the Government but they are behaving like they aren’t part of the current Government,” Dr. Herath said, adding that, “They’ve mentally removed themselves from the Government and are now attacking the Government. This has become a political comedy.”
Dr. Herath questioned why the Government had failed to inquire into such incidents during their near-five-year term instead of promising to launch inquiries if Premadasa is elected as President. “Yesterday, the NDF said that after 16 November, the tax-free vehicle permits issued to Ministers will be discontinued. So why can’t they discontinue them now? There’s no validity in them saying the permits will be discontinued only after the Elections, as there’s no reason for those who won’t take that step now to do so after 16 November,” he said.
Herath went on to question why legal action is yet to be taken against a single individual implicated in the report submitted to President Maithripala Sirisena by the Presidential Commission appointed to investigate the Bond Scam.
In addition to this, Herath mentioned the 10 November press briefing during which Health, Nutrition, and Indigenous Medicine Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne presented to media a man who claimed to be a driver of a ‘white van’. “In which country does a Minister present a driver of a white van to the media instead of handing them over to the police?” Herath asked.