Sri Lanka on Saturday complained to two visiting envoys that some countries were channelling funds via International Non-Governmental Organisations (INGOs) and local Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) to destabilise democracy in the island-nation.
The Sri Lankan Foreign Affairs Minister, Rohitha Bogollagama, echoed these views in separate meetings with the Australian Special Envoy to Sri Lanka, John McCarthy, and the Ambassador of Sudan, Khidir Haroun Ahmed, residing in New Delhi.
A statement by the Foreign Ministry quoted Mr. Bogollagama as saying, “An amazing amount of assets have been found by the same authorities and it is a proven fact now that these funds have reached Sri Lanka via some International INGOs and local NGOs. He expressed his highest dissatisfaction for channelling such funds to destabilise democracy in Sri Lanka.”
Though the Minister has not named any particular country, his remarks assume significance against the backdrop of the Feb. 10 interview of Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Sri Lanka Defence Secretary, with the Singapore-based Straits Times where he had talked about the alleged coup plans of the former Army chief, retired General Sarath Fonseka.
“We are 100 per cent convinced that western countries with vested interests were backing him. Even the U.S., and countries like Norway, spent lots of money on his campaign.
“I have proof of the Norwegian government paying journalists to write against the government. They have vested interests and used to support the Tamil Tigers in various ways. They also supported Fonseka to try oust the President,” Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa had told the paper.
The missions of the U.S. and Norway here had strongly refuted the charges made by the Defence Secretary that they were involved in funding the election campaign of the former Army chief.
On Friday a statement put out by the Foreign Affairs Ministry said the matter figured when the U.S. Ambassador, Patricia Butenis met Mr. Bogollagama. It quoted him as telling the U.S. envoy that Colombo does not give any credence to the ‘palpable misinformation’ concerning alleged moves involving the U.S., aimed at undermining the leadership of President Rajapaksa.
Earlier in the week the Central Investigation Department had claimed to have recovered Sri Lankan Rs. 15 million and $ 5.5 lakh from a safe vault of a private bank in Colombo that belonged to mother of Dhanuna Tillekaratna. Mr. Tillekaratna is the son-in-law of the defeated common opposition consensus presidential candidate, Gen. Fonseka.
‘Gen. Fonseka not politically victimised’
The Foreign Affairs Ministry in two separate statements about the meetings between the Minister and the envoys further said he explained the political developments in the country and that by having accepted the resignation of Gen. Fonseka, the President had removed the General’s barriers to enter politics.
“He pointed out that any person regardless of the status should respect the laws of that country. He said that Gen. Fonseka was arrested and detained under the military law, that he was 0not politically victimised by the government and that he is under military custody due to his own committed offences.
According to the statement by the Foreign Affairs Ministry,
the Sudanese Ambassador briefed Mr. Bogollagama on the current situation in Darfur and explained about the arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in 2009 on Sudan’s President Omar Hassan Ahmad Al Bashir for war crimes and crimes against humanity when Sudan is not a member of ICC.
“In response, Foreign Minister Bogollagama stated that Sri Lanka is also facing similar pressures from the International Community on Domestic Affairs,” the statement said.