UPFA Presidential candidate’s election co-ordinator,
Minister Mangala Samaraweera says that within a month of Prime
Minister Mahinda Rajapakse’s victory in the November 17 polls, a
special Presidential Commission would be appointed to probe the
mysterious death of former UNP General Secretary Gamini
In a statement issued yesterday Minister
Samaraweera said that a large number of UNP MPs had requested
UPFA candidate Rajapakse to bring in a special commission to
probe the mysterious death of the party’s General Secretary who
had a dispute with the party’s leadership.
"Following the loss in general election 2000, a
situation developed within the UNP to reject the incapable
leadership of Wickremesinghe. A majority of UNP senior leaders
rejected the leadership of Ranil Wickremesinghe and rallied
behind deputy leader of the party Gamini Athukorala.
Wickremesinghe had opposed this growing popularity of Athukorala
but had to create a deputy leader post and appoint MP Karu
Jayasuriya to the post," Samaraweera said in the statement.
Wickremesinghe, when appointing his Cabinet in
2000, entrusted Athukorala with the Ministry of Highways and
Civil Aviation though he was shadow defence minister when the
UNP was in opposition. "Athukorala was not allowed to appoint
any officer to his ministry," the statement said.
Athukorala had attended a musical show organised by
the Sirasa Television the night he died. At the musical show
some UNP associates of Wickremesinghe had given several glasses
of wine to Athukorala. On his way back home, Athukorala had
complained of a burning sensation in his stomach. He died that
night, the statement said.
It said that when Wickremesinghe came to know of
the mysterious death of Athukorala, he had made arrangements to
bring the body to Colombo. No post mortem was held either in
Ratnapura or Colombo. Wickremesinghe who hurried to transport
the body to Colombo did not attend the seventh day or three
months alms giving ceremony of Athukorala, the statement said.
Several days after the mysterious death, there was
a fire at Sirasa TV station. Following this fire, it was said
that the video tapes of Athukorala’s last appearances were
On these grounds, UNPers suspect foul play and
demand a proper probe Athukorala’s death. UPFA candidate Prime
Minister Rajapakse had assured them that within a month after
his victory, he would appoint a special presidential commission
to investigate the sudden death of Athukorala. "We have already
made arrangements and allocated funds to the functioning of the
commission," Samaraweera said.