The stand-off over the summoning of Sri Lanka’s Chief of Defence Staff Sarath Fonseka by the U.S Department of Homeland Security for questioning ended on Tuesday with an announcement by the Foreign Ministry that General Fonseka had been allowed to return to Sri Lanka without being quizzed by any agency of the U.S. government. The Foreign Office said General Fonseka left the U.S. on Tuesday for Colombo.
General Fonseka led the war against the LTTE as the Army chief. Washington’s intention to question and use him as a possible source against Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa over charges of excesses by the security forces and the LTTE during the 34-month war led to considerable anxiety in government circles here.
Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama, who had asked the U.S. Ambassador here to ask Washington to desist from any exercise to engage General Fonseka in a dialogue on the war, briefed envoys based here on Wednesday on the latest developments.
Political and diplomatic observers here are intrigued over the whole drama as it unfolded. General Fonseka is a U.S. Green Card holder and his daughters are in the state of Oklahoma.
Meanwhile, President Mahinda Rajapaksa flew down to the Northern Province to meet the war-displaced for the first time where he announced a pay raise for security forces.
A statement by the Presidential Secretariat said Mr. Rajapaksa told those re-settled in Kilinochchi and Mullathivu districts that his government was taking steps to resettle all the displaced as soon as de-mining was completed.
Speaking to the Army for the first time since the end of the conflict, Mr. Rajapaksa announced the pay rise with immediate effect saying they made great sacrifices.
He said for the past 30 years there had been no government which kept trust in the security forces as this government and stressed that the security forces should win the hearts of the Tamil people like they won the war and called on them to contribute to the development of the country.