Gotabaya urged to rectify flaws in ‘Conspiracy’, admit his own failures




Divided SLPP rebel group looking for ‘ideal’ candidate

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Dissident SLPP MP Prof. Channa Jayasumana has said that former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s account of an internationally backed operation to oust him should be examined along with Wimal Weerawansa’s ‘9: The Hidden Story’, Sena Thoradeniya’s ‘Galle Face Protest: System Change Anarchy?’, two interviews given by ex-presidential aide Sugeeswara Bandara, and Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena’s disclosure in Parliament on March 21.

Taken together, they confirmed a despicable powerful foreign hand in the high profile project that mercilessly exploited an explosive combination of factors caused by mismanagement on the part of the then government and events beyond their control like, loss of important tourist income after the devastating Easter attacks also manipulated by outsiders, followed by the unprecedented COVID pandemic and even throttling of vital worker remittances by underground money transfers, the Anuradhapura district MP said.

He said on top of all that ex-President Gotabaya inherited a bankrupt government as the previous unscrupulous Yahapalana regime that even staged two daylight robberies at the country’s Central Bank had gone on a borrowing spree at high interests from the international bond market to the tune of more than 12 billion USD. May be the country should first investigate what that government did with such colossal borrowings in that short period without undertaking or completing any worthwhile projects, the top medical academic pointed out.

The former State Minister said so responding to The Island query whether he accepted the former President’s reasoning for the economic-political-social crisis that forced him out of office in July 2022.

Prof. Jayasumana denied that he was among those MPs who asked President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to convince Premier Mahinda Rajapaksa to resign in line with the overall effort to stabilize the government.

Referring to the Speaker’s declaration that he was even threatened in July 2022 after his refusal to cooperate with those spearheading the violent protest campaign, Anuradhapura district MP Prof. Jayasumana emphasized that the Wickremesinghe-Rajapaksa government couldn’t ignore such a serious disclosure.

The MP said that external intervention, particularly the role played by US Ambassador in Colombo, Julie Chung, as alleged by National Freedom Front (NFF) leader Wimal Weerawansa, violated the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. The SLPPer stressed the responsibility on the part of Speaker Abeywardena to seek an impartial inquiry, without further delay, as the issue at hand should be addressed, irrespective of any personal threats.

Deeply appreciating the Speaker’s decision to discard offers made by interested parties to appoint him as the Acting President, Prof. Jayasumana said that MP Abeywardena couldn’t absolve himself of the responsibility to uphold the Constitution. Prof. Jayasumana recalled how Abeywardena, as a young MP, proved his mettle by refusing to vote for the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. “In spite of being a member of the UNP parliamentary group, Abeywardena took that decision at the expense of his political career. Therefore, we believe he’ll stand by his principles.”

The Speaker should reveal who made the unprecedented intervention on behalf of those who planned the extra-parliamentary take-over.

Commenting on ‘Conspiracy’ launched by ousted President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Prof. Jayasumana said that there were serious shortcomings in the wartime Defence Secretary’s account of the developments and situations. Therefore, the former President should seriously consider rectifying mistakes and shortcomings in the next edition, the MP said.

The first edition has already been sold out and the second edition, too, is fast selling out.

However, various accounts of the protest campaign, including that of the Speaker, proved beyond doubt that there had been an international intervention, the MP said, adding that there were a couple of countries involved in the project.

Prof. Jayasumana stressed that the interventions made in 2021/2022, taking advantage of the dicey situation here, had been nothing but a continuation of a foreign agenda, brazenly implemented with the connivance of some interested parties. Those who couldn’t stomach eradication of separatist terrorism in 2009 and other like-minded groups funded by foreign governments/organizations exploited the economic crisis, Prof. Jayasumana said.

The MP found fault with the President for failing to take tangible measures to counter the threat. “We were ready to help him. We always wanted to counter anti-nationalistic threats. Unfortunately, the President ignored us. He depended on a group of inner people who eventually failed him.”

Prof. Jayasumana said that President Rajapaksa could have addressed the challenges faced by him and the country much better though he decided to work closely with the same lot.

Commenting on current political developments with the focus on six SLPP MPs reaching a consensus with the main Opposition Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) recently, Prof. Jayasumana said that at the parliamentary vote to elect a President, in July 2022, an entire group of dissident ruling party lawmakers voted for Dullas Alahapperuma.

UNP leader Wickremesinghe polled 134 votes whereas Alahapperuma managed to obtain 82 votes. JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake secured three votes. The SJB voted for MP Alahapperuma.

Prof. Jayasumana said that their group, identified as Nidahasa Jathika Sabhawa, consisted of 13 MPs. Of them, six recently reached an understanding with the SJB, Prof. Jayasumana said, adding that the others refrained from doing so due to different reasons.

Asked whether the remaining seven MPs, including him, could reach a consensus ahead of the forthcoming Presidential poll, Prof. Jayasumana said that he couldn’t give a definite answer. The MP said that he would support a person/political party that protected the unitary status of the country, followed a non-aligned foreign policy, safeguarded national interests in trade and investment and thwarted attempts to cause religious disharmony among the communities.

Asked whether he would quit politics in case of his failure to reach consensus with a suitable candidate/political party, Prof. Jayasumana said that a group of like-minded MPs, including him, was making an effort to find an appropriate candidate. According to him, there were a considerable number of MPs who valued unitary status and other related matters.

However, if they couldn’t find the ideal candidate, a serious attempt would be made to reach an agreement with a candidate in the fray willing to reach consensus on the above-mentioned preconditions, at least to a certain extent, he said.