By Ashwin Hemmathagama Our Lobby Correspondent
Legislators supporting former President Mahinda Rajapaksa lobbied yesterday in Parliament for an immediate upgrade of his privileges and blamed the Government for violating the Presidents Entitlements Act No. 4 of 1986 and Article 36 of the Constitution.
Raising the issues as per the Parliament Standing Order 23-2, UPFA parliamentarian Dinesh Gunawardena said: “Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa is entitled to an official residence, office, servants and protection among many other facilities. You have failed to provide him with these for over a period of five months. All these facilities were made available to former presidents and their wives, on par with this Act. Regardless of the political party in power, the Act has to be followed. He was the leader who defeated terrorism in Sri Lanka and united the nation. His life is in danger both in Sri Lanka and abroad.”
“He is an international icon who held diverse responsibilities in several international forums. You are preventing him from conducting his activities by not providing these facilities. Three weeks ago the Government removed his medical team including the nurses and the doctors, which is inhumane,” he added.
In response, Plantation Industries Minister and House Leader Lakshman Kiriella produced a media release issued by Rajapaksa’s Media Secretary, Rohan Weliwita, confirming that a total of 213 security personnel from the military and police were allocated to his security detail already.
“The Prime Minister will provide a lengthy response soon. We have not removed his security and he continues to enjoy 213 personnel at the moment. You speak as if nothing was provided and are trying to mislead the House,” said Minister Kiriella.