Sirisena pledges to oppose war crimes investigation

Saturday, 29 November 2014 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • Will launch domestic inquiry, act according to LLRC recommendations

  • Promises cutouts, polythene and poster free campaign

  • Expresses confidence in victory at the polls, even if President Rajapaksa hangs posters on Adam’s Peak

  Opposition presidential challenger Maithripala Sirisena will stand against an international investigation into allegations of war crimes committed during the final phase of the war. Sirisena, who was addressing a press briefing yesterday, said he would launch a domestic probe if he was successful in the January presidential election. “I will not allow President Rajapaksa or the security forces to be hauled before an international war crimes court,” Sirisena told journalists. His Government would act according to the recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC), Sirisena said. The LLRC has recommended credible investigations into specific incidents referred to by witnesses that testified before the Commission during the final phase of the war. “National and religious reconciliation is crucial to harmony between communities. So we will make policy decisions on this matter,” he said. Sirisena vowed to carry out a polythene- and poster-free campaign during the presidential election. “I will not use cut outs or polythene. To create awareness of a rally or meeting we may use posters, otherwise there will be no polythene or posters used during this campaign,” the common candidate pledged. A confident Opposition candidate hit back against President Rajapaksa’s propaganda blitz before campaigning officially kicks off. “He can hang cutouts from Siripada and Sigiriya if he wants. I will still win,” he charged. Former Fisheries Minister Rajitha Senaratne who also addressed the press briefing held at the Opposition leader’s office in Colombo claimed recent events had created a great wave of public support for the Opposition movement. Referring to the lead story in the Ravaya newspaper, Senaratne said intelligence reports were already predicting huge victories for Sirisena in the January poll. “People who were suppressed for so long are now speaking out. People who couldn’t understand what was happening are now understanding and aware. That is why you are getting this polling data now,” the former minister explained. The Ravaya report said the State Intelligence Service Chief Chandra Wakishta had been removed as a result of submitting a report that predicted a Sirisena victory with 59% of the vote. Senaratne promised more defections from the Government in the next few weeks. “What is stopping them all right now is fear. They are all very scared. That is the only reason they are staying. So there is your greatest evidence for why the presidential system has to go,” he charged. “The Government said there would be no more crossovers. Since they said that there have been two crossovers. So let’s wait and see what happens next week. We don’t need to advertise the numbers,” Senaratne said. The Government is moving to suspend sittings in at least three provincial councils ahead of the vote, the former minister added. Yesterday the UPFA Government decided to suspend sittings in the Uva PC which sits in the hill city of Badulla because it was too cold.