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Now, SJB MP says she renounced British citizenship in 2015

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…received official SL passport as Ranminithenna Chairperson

by Shamindra Ferdinando

Dissident Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) MP Dayana Gamage yesterday said that she had renounced her British citizenship in 2015 to launch her full time political career here. She insisted that she had obtained an official Sri Lankan passport in her capacity as the Chairperson of Ranminithenna Tele-Cinema village in 2017 during the UNP-led yahapalana administration.

The SJB National List MP said so when she was repeatedly accused of having entered parliament despite being a British national. Chamuditha Samarawickrema yesterday raised, during Salakuna programme on Hiru TV, the contentious issue of a British passport holder being in Parliament.

MP Gamage was among seven NL members appointed on the SJB list. The UNPer is the only newcomer to parliamentary politics.

Repeatedly asked whether she carried two passports, the MP said that she had received a British passport as her mother was British by birth. Responding to another query, Gamage said that as a British passport holder she had obtained a resident visa during 2005-2015 period. According to Gamage, the relinquishment of her British citizenship had enabled her to engage in Sri Lankan politics full-time.

Asked whether she had ever served as private secretary to one-time LTTE Eastern commander Vinayagamurthy Muralitharan aka Karuna Amman, a smiling Gamage told the interviewer he was referring to another woman. “I have nothing to do with Karuna,” Gamage said, strongly denying the accusation that she deliberately refrained from informing relevant authorities here regarding her decision to give up British citizenship.

The interviewer sought an explanation regarding her conduct on the basis of a complaint made by civil society activist Oshala Herath over the alleged use of passports issued by the UK and her gaining entry into parliament in violation of the Constitution, Gamage said that Herath had nothing better to do.

Denying all accusations, the MP recalled how Herath, a candidate at the 2020 general election had made an abortive bid to sabotage the SJB nominations by moving the Supreme Court.

Herath, who served as a member of President Maithripala Sirisena’s media team recently wrote to Director, CID regarding MP Gamage’s citizenship. Herath made available a copy of his complaints to Secretary to the President, AG and Director CID, in addition to the Chairman of the Election Commission.

Herath unsuccessfully contested the last general election on the UNP ticket from the Colombo District.

Asked why she had not obtained dual citizenship, MP Gamage said that she had felt no need to do so. She compared the high profile campaign carried out against her alleging that she was holding British citizenship, as well as her alleged involvement in the project to efforts to deprive SLPP candidate Gotabaya Rajapaksa of the opportunity to contest 2019 presidential election.

Gamage said that she served as a Provincial Council member in 2014. Responding to questions as regards the documents required to prove her nationality, MP Gamage said that she was in possession of all such documents including the National Identity Card.

MP Gamage strongly defended her right to have voted for the 20th Amendment regardless of a decision taken by the SJB to oppose the new law. “My husband Senaka de Silva informed Mr Premadasa of my decision. I took this decision in consultation with my husband.” The MP dismissed SJB threat to deprive her of NL seat.

MP Gamage said that her husband had made it possible for the rebel UNP group led by the Deputy UNP leader Premadasa to contest the election by handing over his Ape Jathika Peramuna (AJP). The SJB secured 54 seats, including seven on the NL. Pointing out that many political parties had been sold for big amounts over the years, Samarawickrema asked the MP how much her husband had received and whether the NL slot, too, was part of the deal. Denying having received funds for the transferring of the ownership of the party, Gamage claimed that unlike others they had not benefited from that initiative.

“In fact, the NL slot was offered by Mr. Premadasa to my husband, one time Secretary to General Sarath Fonseka when the latter contested the 2010 presidential election as the common candidate.

Responding to another query, MP Gamage revealed that AJP had been registered by Mangala Samaraweera after he was sacked by the UPFA. Declaring that AJP no longer existed, MP Gamage said that both she and her husband handed over their resignation letters as Secretary and Deputy Chairman, respectively, to SJB General Secretary Ranjith Madduma Bandara about a week after she voted for the 20th Amendment.

In a wide ranging interview, MP Gamage revealed that UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe had planned to introduce a new piece of legislation similar to the 19th Amendment to the Constitution in case General Sarath Fonseka won the 2010 presidential election. MP Gamage claimed that her husband as the Secretary to the war-winning Army Chief had advised him not to do so as whoever functioned as the President needed necessary executive powers.

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Foreign force behind Easter Sunday attacks – Sirisena

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

A powerful foreign country or an agency was behind the Easter Sunday bombings and the National Thowheed Jamaat (NTJ) leader Zaharan Hashim, former President Maithripala Sirisena yesterday told the PCoI investigating the Easter Sunday attacks.

“I also do not believe that Zaharan was the leader of that organisation. Because a leader would never have initiated a suicide attack and died during the first wave,” Sirisena said.

The former President also said that Islamic extremism had spread rapidly in the country due to the support extremists received from Muslim politicians.

Sirisena also said that the military and intelligence officials had been demoralised by harassment they suffered during the yahaalanaya administration. This was the reason why local institutions failed to uncover NTJ’s plans. “But this incident is a conspiracy because it appeared that Zaharan was being manipulated by some foreign hand,” the former President said.

The President further said that during the previous administration, UNPers had headed the Ministry of Law and Order for several years that they had significantly weakened the intelligence services. Although he had taken the Ministry of law and Order in the last stages of the yahapalana government, he had not been able to undo the damage the UNP had done in four years, the witness said.

Commissioner: “Did you know that during your tenure as President, Muslim MPs and ministers were forcible acquiring land in Vanni and Batticaloa and they were constructing Muslim villages and mosques there?”

Sirisena: “Some ministers used their political power to clear forests and cultivate lands. Some ministers were angry with me when I tried to stop them. I tried hard to control those actions. But it was difficult for me to deal with that situation. Fundamentalism rose due to the protection given by Muslim political leaders. Certain political parties are based on religion, race and language. This is disastrous. I tried to stop these people but my decisions were not implemented.”

 

 

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Bathiudeen granted bail

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Former Minister Rishad Bathiudeen was released on bail by the Fort Magistrate’s Court yesterday. Fort Magistrate Priyantha Liyanage released Bathiudeen on cash bail of Rs. 100,000 with two sureties of one million rupees each.

The Magistrate also imposed a travel ban on Bathiudeen and said that the guarantors should be his close relatives.

The Magistrate granted bail to the MP considering the risk of him contracting COVID-19 as two inmates in cells next to his had recently tested positive for coronavirus.

Bathiudeen was remanded in connection with alleged misappropriation of public funds during the last presidential election to transport voters.

The former minister has been accused of misusing 222 buses owned by the SLTB for transporting internally displaced persons from Puttalam to polling stations in Silavathurai, Mannar during the 2019 Presidential Election. Two others, Mohamed Yaseen Samsudeen and Alagarathnam Manoranjan face the same charges.

They have allegedly violated Article 82(1) of Presidential Elections Act, No. 15 of 1981 by misappropriating public funds amounting to Rs. 9.5 million.

Bathiudeen was arrested at an apartment complex at Ebenezer Place in Dehiwala in the early hours of October 19. He was then produced before the court and placed under remand custody. His bail application was also rejected by the magistrate’s court on several occasions

 

 

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Zahran supported Sirisena and SLMC at 2015 elections, Hizbullah tells PCoI

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

National Thawheed Jamaat (NTJ) and its leader Zahran Hashim supported Former President Maithripala Sirisena and the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) at the 2015 elections, former Eastern Province Governor M.L.A.M Hizbullah, on Tuesday night, told the PCoI probing the Easter Sunday attacks.

Hizbullah was giving evidence before the PCoI for the second day.

“Zahran supported the SLMC at the 2015 general election. After the UNP-led coalition won the election, NTJ members fought with our supporters. Several people were injured during the clash, including Zahran’s brother. SLMC leader Rauff Hakeem visited Zahran’s brother at the hospital.”

The witness also submitted a footage of a demonstration opposite NTJ Headquarters in Kattankudy. It contained a speech by Zahran, who expressed his dismay after Sirisena appointed Hizbullah as a national list MP.

“In this video, Zahran clearly says he supported Maithripala Sirisena at the 2015 presidential election. Zahran also says he sent a fax to the former President, urging him not to appoint me to Parliament.”

However, it was earlier revealed that in 2015, representatives of five recognised political parties, including the UPFA and the UNP, had signed agreements with Zahran in the run-up to the 2015 general election. Representatives of Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC,) Democratic Party, UNP, UPFA and National Front for Good Governance (NFGG), too, had signed agreements with Zahran in exchange for NTJ support, the Commission was told.

Hizbullah, on Monday, admitted that his party had also signed an agreement with the NTJ.

“Zahran told social media that he would support any politician who agreed to his proposals. All the parties joined him. I also went along.”

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