President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday expressed his readiness to meet defeated presidential election candidate, General Sarath Fonseka’s family to discuss the possibility of releasing the imprisoned former Army Chief.
Presidential spokesman, Bandula Jayasekera quoted President Rajapaksa as having said that Mrs. Anoma Fonseka could appeal to him directly without calling for international interference.
The President was responding to a recent statement attributed to Ms. Apsara Fonseka, one of the General’s daughters, that the Fonsekas would sought the intervention of US President Barak Obama to secure General Fonseka’s release.
The presidential spokesperson called the move a futile excise. “We are of the view that appealing to a President of another country is futile,” Jayaskera said. Instead, they could appeal to President Rajapaksa, “who may consider the appeal sympathetically,” he said.
This follows our recent revelation of a Colombo-based US diplomat on behalf of US Ambassador Patricia Butenis warning SLFP General Secretary, Maithripala Sirisena to release General Fonseka forthwith or face the consequences.
The former Chief of Defence Staff late last week appealed against the ruling in the ‘White flag’ case.
Jayasekera said that the Fonsekas could visit Temple Trees without any cost, whereas the White House is thousands of miles away.
“It should not be forgotten that President Mahinda Rajapaksa, on humanitarian grounds, granted permission to Mr. Sarath Fonseka, to visit the funeral of his niece, when the normal practice is that, people serving prison sentences are allowed only to attend the funerals of their immediate family members.”
“When President Mahinda Rajapaksa was in prison (as a Member of Parliament then) he was not allowed to visit his ailing mother. When his mother passed away the then government did not allow him to attend his mother’s funeral. He attended his mother’s funeral with prison officials, only with the approval of the judge.”
UNP MP Wijedasa Rajapakshe some time back met both General Fonseka and his wife to persuade them to appeal to the President. Rajapakshe told The Sunday Island that he also discussed the issue with the General’s daughters following requests by many people, including the clergy to explore ways and means of settling the issue.
President Rajapaksa is of the opinion that nothing could be achieved by running to the international community like the UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe.
External Affairs Minister Prof. G. L. Peiris last Thursday launched a scathing attack on Wickremesinghe for seeking external interference as part of his overall strategy to pressure the government on essentially domestic issues.
The UNP also sought the intervention of the Vatican to secure General Fonseka’s release in the wake of stepped-up protests to pressure the government over imprisonment of the common opposition candidate at the January 2010 presidential polls.
However, the Marxist JVP, which supported Fonseka’s candidate turned down the UNP organized ‘Release SF’ campaign, while the Democratic National Alliance (DNA) declared that it would campaign independently on behalf of Fonseka. The DNA parliamentary group included JVP MPs, though the coalition members seemed to be sharply divided over their strategy. Even Mrs. Fonseka declined to accept the UNP’s invitation to attend the protest.
Courtesy: The Island