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Gotabhaya Rajapaksa defends govt position on Sarath Fonseka issue

Oct 4, 2010 6:05:24 AM- transcurrents.com

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa says those politicians now shedding crocodile tears for incarcerated Sarath Fonseka never uttered a word in support of him during the Eelam war IV.

Defence Secretary Rajapaksa says none of them appreciated the former Army Commander’s role in the war until he quit a 40-year career to take on President Mahinda Rajapaksa at the January 26 presidential election.

Responding to Opposition criticism that the war hero was being unfairly treated for challenging President Rajapaksa, the Defence Secretary said that the defeated presidential candidate’s new friends had conveniently forgotten the circumstances under which Fonseka entered politics.

In a brief interview with The Island yesterday, the Defence Secretary alleged that the Opposition was using the issue as a political tool to undermine post-war political stability.

An irate Rajapaksa said that the Opposition had carried out an extremely harmful presidential election campaign by accusing the Army of war crimes. He asked whether anything could have been more damaging and irresponsible than accusing him of having ordered that surrendering LTTE cadres be shot on the Vanni east. He challenged the UNP and the JVP to reveal their position on a statement attributed to Fonseka in a front-page Sunday Leader interview on December 13, 2009.

Defence Secretary Rajapaksa said that those who were making a public display of Fonseka’s trouble had ignored the launch of an UN inquiry on the basis of Fonseka’s unfounded allegations. He said Fonseka’s imprisonment had nothing to do with his politics. The UN action had targeted the country’s political and military leaderships, and ongoing reconciliation efforts could be jeopardised, he said, urging the public to beware of ‘bankrupt politicians seeking cheap political gain’.

Responding to a query, the Defence Secretary recalled how those now siding with Fonseka had tried to disrupt the war against the LTTE by defeating the UPFA’s budget in 2007 and 2008. According to him, nothing could be as regrettable as one of the architects of Sri Lanka’s triumph over the LTTE throwing his weight behind a set of ‘calculating politicians bent on capturing political power at any cost’.

Commenting on criticism on the former Army Chief being subject to Court Martial jurisdiction, Defence Secretary Rajapaksa said that many officers, including Major General Parakrama Pannipitiya had been court martialled for alleged violation of tender procedures during Fonseka’s command.

That action effectively denied Pannipitiya, who had led the campaign in the East an opportunity to command the Army, the Defence Secretary said adding that there had been many instances of officers being sent out of the army on flimsy grounds according to Fonseka’s whims and fancies.

The primary reason for the war victory was nothing but President Rajapaksa’s readiness to double the strength of the Army and increase the strength of other services and police, the Defence Secretary said stressing that had Fonseka shared the credit for war victory with the military leadership, the country could have avoided an unfortunate situation.

Rajapaksa said that the JVP had strongly opposed the creation of the post of the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) for Fonseka. The then JVP MP Lal Kantha had told Parliament that the government was being foolish as this could lead to a military dictatorship, he said. Today, the JVP was saying something entirely different, he said. - courtesy: The Island -