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SLPP furious over alleged Rishad links, claims Wimal stabbed govt. in the back



By Shamindra Ferdinando

The government had been stabbed in the back by National Freedom Front (NFF) leader and Industries Minister Wimal Weerawansa, SLPP parliamentary group sources said yesterday (11).

Referring to Minister Weerawansa’s accusations regarding clandestine links between a section of the government and All Ceylon Makkal Congress (ACMC) leader Rishad Bathiudeen, allegedly involved with those responsible for 2019 Easter Sunday carnage, sources pointed out that the NFF leader’s move was intended to undermine the SLPP.

Delivering a public lecture at Sambuddhathva Jayanthi Mandiraya, on Tuesday (9), lawmaker Weerawansa alleged a group of decadent ruling party politicians who realised entering into political marriage with what the minister called Islamic extremism in the future had prevented the exposure of the likes of Rishad Bathiudeen.

Weerawansa holds Small and Medium Business and Enterprise Development, Industries and Supply chain Management portfolios. The NFF parliamentary group consists of six members, including one National List MP.

SLPP sources said that Minister Weerawansa’s outburst had caused irreparable damage to the government at a time it was under heavy pressure over the alleged shortcomings in the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) report and the controversial recommendation that 22 volumes of it shouldn’t be handed over to the Attorney General on the basis of them being sensitive.

Responding to a query, sources said that Minister Weerawansa had attacked the government the day before the commencement of three-day debate on the PCoI report and the issue at hand had been brought to the notice of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Minister Weerawansa alleged that the likes of Rishad Bathiudeen and former Eastern Province Governor M. L.A, M, Hizbullah had been taking overland in the Mannar region and the Eastern Province, respectively in line with strategy promoted by Yusuf al-Qaradawi, an Egyptian Islamic scholar based in Doha, Qatar.

The National Freedom Front Leader alleged that Rishad Bathiudeen during his tenure as the Industries and Commerce Minister of the UPFA (2010-2015) and yahapalana (2015-2019) administrations had deliberately undermined some businesspersons on racial grounds. Minister Weerawansa, who, too, had been a minister in the same Cabinet with Rishad Bathiudeen, explained how the ACMC leader bad exploited his ministerial portfolio for the benefit of a particular community.

Minister Weerawansa questioned the rationale behind the PCoI conveniently not recommending specific measures in respect of President of the Muslim Council M. N. Ameen, who included extremist teachings of Yusuf al-Qaradawi in Muslim teachers’ guide.

Weerawansa alleged that Yusuf al-Qaradawi’s teachings had been severely inimical to the country and promoted violence. Minister Weerawansa also said that the PCoI owed an explanation why specific recommendations weren’t made in respect of Hizbullah in spite of him being identified as a person who propagated extremism in the Kattankudy area.

The NFF leader also questioned the circumstances under which Rishad Bathiudeen’s brother, Riyaj arrested in connection with his alleged involvement with the Easter Sunday carnage under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) in April 2020 had been released. Minister Weerawansa said the police, after accusing Riyaj of being in touch with one of the Easter Sunday bombers, had quietly released him.

Commenting on one-time Western Province Governor Azath Salley’s conduct, Minister Weerawansa asked why the PCoI refrained from recommending action against the NUA (National Unity Alliance) leader Salley. Alleging that the then Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, in spite of being responsible for disrupting intelligence services thereby creating an environment conducive for Thowheed terrorists was conveniently let off the hook, Minister Weerawansa questioned the conduct of the P CoI on many points.

Minister Weerawansa tore into the PCoI questioning the motives of its members who cleared Wickremesinghe although he was responsible for the breakdown of the national security apparatus. He said there was no point in going after the then Defence Secretary Hemasiri Fernando, IGP Pujith Jayasundera, Chief of National Intelligence retired DIG Sisira Mendis and Chief of State Intelligence Services (SIS) DIG Nilantha Jayawardana when the very person who created a situation conducive for Thowheed terrorists escaped the attention of the PCoI.

Lambasting the PCoI for omissions, Minister Weerawansa asked whether Easter Sunday bomber Zahran Hashim’s ghosts had been active in the PCoI, and how the PCoI had recommended specific action against Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) General Secretary Ven. Galagodaatte Gnanasara over alleged extremist activity and left out those who connived, aided and abetted Easter Sunday conspirators.

The then President Maithripala Sirisena appointed the PCoI whereas his successor Gotabaya Rajapaksa extended its term.


SJB, JVP move SC against Finance Secy. for contempt of court



The main Opposition, Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB), and the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) yesterday (21) moved Supreme Court against Treasury Secretary Mahinda Siriwardana over his failure to provide funds required by the Election Commission to conduct the Local Government polls, ignoring an interim order issued by the apex court, on 03 March.

Ranjith Madduma Bandara, MP, is the petitioner for the SJB and Vijitha Herath, MP, moved court on behalf of the JVP, the leading party in the Jathika Jana Balawegaya (JJB).

Two Opposition parties declared action against Siriwardana the day after the Freedom People’s Alliance (FPA) issued a seven-day ultimatum to the Finance Secretary to release the funds.

EC Chairman Nimal Punchihewa is on record as having said that in spite of SC directive he didn’t receive fresh funding.

The petitioners sought the issuance of summons on Siriwardana for contempt of court over failure to carry out its interim orders, given on 03 March.

The petitioners want the Finance Secretary punished in terms of Article 105 (3) of the Constitution.

The SJB stated that Siriwardana had refrained from carrying out the March directives, on the basis of a Cabinet decision, taken on 13 Feb., 2023. The SJB also pointed out that the offensive conduct of the Treasury Secretary, inter alia, causes grave prejudice to the esteemed authority of the Supreme Court and in turn disturb the public confidence in the authority of the highest Court in the country. (SF)

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Minister indicates reduction in fuel prices in April



Power and Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekara told Parliament yesterday that fuel prices would be reduced considerably according to the fuel price formula at the next fuel price revision, due in April.

The Minister said that the government would be able to procure fuel shipments, at lower prices, during competitive bidding, with the receipt of the IMF bailout.

There had been practical issues, and problems, in opening Letters of Credit, and obtaining credit facilities, in the recent past, as Sri Lanka could not give a guarantee to fuel suppliers, Minister Wijesekara said.

“We could not open LCs and obtain credit facilities when procuring fuel. After the IMF bailout, we will be able to procure fuel at lower prices during competitive biddings. We will be able to obtain a long-term credit facility as well. Fuel prices in the global market seem to have declined and the rupee has also gained strength against the US Dollar. Having considered all these factors, fuel prices will be reduced by a considerable margin which could be felt by the people,” he said.

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IGP tells CID not to brook any interference from any quarter while they probe ’Harak Kata’ and ‘Kudu Salindu’



By Norman Palihawadane

IGP CD Wickramaratne has directed the CID to maintain a special log of names and details of any attempts by external parties to influene the ongoing investigations on notorious drug traffickers Nandun Chinthaka Wickramaratne aka Harak Kata and Salindu Malshika aka Kudu Salindu.

The suspects are currently under the custody of the CID.

The IGP issued the orders to the DIG CID and its director during a meeting of senior police officers on Monday, police headquarters said.

Sources said that the IGP has further instructed not to allow statements from the detainees to be taken by any police team other than the team currently investigating the suspects.

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