Alleges arms procurement corruption during first speech in Parliament, proclaims his innocence
Reiterates charge of fixed 2005 and 2010 elections, insists White Flag incident happened in his absence
By Ashwin Hemmathagama
Our Lobby Correspondent
Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his brother Gotabaya came under a hail of condemnation yesterday for “corruption, fraud, sub judicial killings, nepotism, taking revenge on rivals, and misleading the public on war victory,” in Regional Development Minister Sarath Fonseka’s maiden speech in Parliament.
Fonseka also spoke of the White Flag case and alleged it was done during the time he was not in Sri Lanka. He also charged the date for the ending of the war was incorrect and falsely publicised by the Rajapaksas.
“Rajapaksa didn’t know the date the war ended. On 16 May he kissed the tarmac at the airport, but the war was going on. On 19 May he boasted in this House about ending the war, but the war was going on and Prabhakaran was alive, so those who cling to the war don’t know the exact date the war ended. I had to leave the country for a few days for a military procurement matter. This was the period they did things, which came up as the White Flag Case. Their behaviour tarnished the clean fight we had, so people should know more about the White Flag case,” added Minister Fonseka.
Making allegations of financial frauds and money-making out of war, MP Fonseka charged that the former Government headed by the Rajapaksas made weapon purchases from China outside the defence budget.
“The payment for the weapons bought during my period are payable from 2012 till 2020. But the former President and the Security Chief mislead the public, claiming lack of money to develop the nation due to war spending. Let me take an example to show how they stole public money. We import 130mm ammunition in ship loads. At the time we started the war each ammo cost $ 150. The price went up only by $ 50 for the last 15 years. But the Defence Secretary started paying $ 650 for each ammo during the war. So the Army ran out of money to purchase ammunition. I couldn’t fight for four months in the absence of ammunition.
“In 2008 we used multi-barrel, which fired 40 rockets at a single firing. Unless we use 40 rockets, the expected results cannot be gained. In the absence of money, we only fired one rocket per day in mid-2008. I personally contacted the Pakistan Army Commander. He was good enough to send me $ 40 million worth of ammunition to continue the war.”
Continuing his allegations, Fonseka spoke of the 2005 presidential elections, where he insisted former President Rajapaksa allegedly bribed LTTE Leader Prabhakaran with $2 million to boycott the vote, insisting he had been given this information by former Minister Basil Rajapaksa. Fonseka went on to say that if the charges were proved, the guilty party should face the gallows.
“The 2010 election was also rigged. Many polling centres were attacked. The results were cooked. These results were sent to then Elections Commissioner. This is how former President Rajapaksa became the President. I know that MP Rajapaksa is there in the lobby. I kindly request him to come inside and raise a point of order to challenge my speech. He was unable to drive the 2015 election simply because of the foreign monitors present at the counting centres. His plan was to attack the centres and also to arrest many political opponents including Maithripala Sirisena,” he alleged.
Fonseka continued to talk extensively on his trial and imprisonment, denying the charges and insisting his loyalists within the Army were unfairly targeted under the former regime.