Detained former Sri Lankan Army Commander and MP, General Sarath Fonseka, was not allowed to attend Parliament on Wednesday. Instead, he was forced to appear before Court Martial II where he is being tried for alleged corruption and other improprieties in purchases for the army.
The local media quoted Fonseka’s party Democratic National Alliance (DNA) as saying that the General had begun an “indefinite fast” to protest against the assault on his privileges as a Member of Parliament.
The opposition benches and the Minister of Housing, Wimal Weerawansa, brought the issue to the notice of the Speaker, and asked him to protect the privileges of the members.
Fonseka had been elected from Colombo district on the Democratic National Alliance (DNA) ticket in the January 10 elections. He had every right to attend parliamentary sessions, the opposition argued.
The opposition pointed out that Foneska was allowed to sit in parliament right through Tuesday’s session, even though the Court Martial was in session on that day. His lawyers had appeared for him.
However, it was announced that marshals would be deployed to bring him to court for Wednesday’s session.
CALL TO DISREGARD TAMIL DIASPORA
The former Chief Minister of the Tamil-speaking North Eastern Province of Sri Lanka, A.Varatharajaperumal, on Wednesday appealed to the Sri Lankan government not to give any importance to the Tamil Diaspora and its machinations because these were irrelevant.
“The Tamil Diaspora is not going to go back to Sri Lanka and has no stakes in peace and development there. In fact, its interests are at variance with those of the Tamils remaining in Sri Lanka. While the Diaspora wants instability and war in the Tamil areas, those Tamils living in the island nation want peace, devolution and economic development,” Perumal told Express in a phone interview from India.
“Therefore, the Rajapaksa government should ignore the Diaspora and instead talk to the representatives of the Tamils remaining in Sri Lanka,” he said.
A founder-leader of the Eelam Peoples’ Revolutionary Liberation Front (EPRLF), Perumal said that government has to devolve power to the Tamils by sincerely implemementing the 13 th amendment.
“ The Sri Lankan government has defeated the LTTE, but it is yet to win the hearts and minds of the Tamils,” he said.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Prime Minister D.M.Jayaratne, and Defence Secretary, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, have been harping on the dangers posed to Sri Lanka’s integrity by the Tamil Diaspora. The Prime Minister said on Tuesday that the Diaspora was sending money to LTTE cadre still evading arrest in Sri Lanka, to make them start the military wing again.
THONDAMAN JOINS CABINET
Arumugan Thondaman, leader of the Indian origin tea plantation workers, joined the Sri Lankan cabinet as Minister of Livestock Development on Wednesday. He had earlier rejected the portfolio saying that it had nothing to do with plantation workers and opted to stay out.