EU told to keep out of Lanka’s politics

Sri Lanka yesterday asked the EU not to interfere in its domestic politics, particularly in relation to the forthcoming presidential polls.

Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama summoned EU Ambassador in Colombo Bernard Savage to protest against a recent remark attributed to the top diplomat regarding former Army Chief General Sarath Fonseka contesting the January 26 presidential poll. Responding to a query at a recent media conference, Ambassador Savage said that retired military officers entering politics were not a new phenomenon. He had referred to President Dwight Eisenhower.

Government sources told The Island that it was unfortunate a section of the international community wanted to play politics with purely a domestic issue. Sources said that Ambassador Savage’s comment on ex-military men who had ventured into politics, citing the example of the former US President Dwight D. Eisenhower, in response to a question posed by a journalist on the Sri Lankan presidential election could regrettably be construed as promoting and adding value of a particular candidature with the intention of influencing the voters at the forthcoming presidential election.

The sources said that Bogollagama had asserted that Ambassador Savage’s comment also contradicts the EU’s neutrality at the presidential polls. The Ambassador had been asked not to issue such statements.

Sources pointed out that the controversial comment coincided with the European Commission’s announcement on 15th December of its recommendation to temporarily suspend the GSP+ concession to Sri Lanka, providing further impetus to the public perception that the EU was attempting to unduly influence the electoral process in the country.

Sources said that the government had to take Ambassador Savage’s statement seriously particularly in the backdrop of Opposition claims that the GSP+ concession could be retained if General (Redt) was elected the President.

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