Thursday, March 17, 2016

Sri Lanka's Rajapaksa challenges govt to jail family

ECONOMYNEXT - Sri Lanka's former president Mahinda Rajapaksa today launched a scathing attack on the administration of his successor Maithripala Sirisena and said he will not quit politics even if his entire family was jailed.

Rajapaksa told an impressive gathering at Colombo's Hyde Park that Sirisena's administration was carrying on a vendetta against him and castigated the government for remanding his second son Yoshitha for 46 days.

"They are talking about Namal as the next candidate to be remanded. He can be jailed for even six months. My entire family can be jailed, but if they think  they can pressure me to step down from politics, it is only a mirage.

"Even if I am jailed, I will continue to be in politics," he said. However, he was careful not to mention Sirisena by name. He warned the judiciary and the police not to harass his supporters by using "all sorts of laws."

"We expect judicial verdicts only," he said suggesting that the current judiciary was not independent and was issuing political judgements to favour the Sirisena government.

Hours before the meeting, Rajapaksa’s MP son, Namal, had been questioned by the FCID for three hours. He faces allegations of money laundering through half a dozen companies under an entity called Gower Corporate Services  which indirectly ran the call centre of Sri Lankan airlines, among others.

Namal is likely to face the same money laundering charges his brother Yoshitha is facing. In addition, Namal is expected to be named in a criminal investigation. 

The former first lady is also under investigation for financial fraud through her Siriliya charity which is also accused of providing a vehicle that had allegedly been used in the killing of rugby player Wasim Thajudeen.

Thursday's rally had attracted far more people than the UNP-led rally two days earlier at the same location.

Police said at least 330 buses entered the city Thursday with those attending Rajapaksa's rally at Hyde Park while some had also travelled in smaller vans and cars.

Overall, the strength at Thursday's meeting was easily three times more than the participation at Tuesday's UNP rally. 

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