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Arjuna waiting to see whether COPE ‘suspects’ receive nominations

Former UPFA MP Arjuna Ranatunga yesterday (Feb 22) said that he was waiting till the UPFA handed over its nominations this week to see whether politicians named by parliamentary watch dog committees, COPE (Committee on Public Enterprises) and PAC (Public Accounts Committee) received nominations to contest forthcoming parliamentary polls.

Two damaging reports authored by Wijedasa Rajapakshe during the sixth Parliament blamed several ministers of fraudulent transactions running into billions of rupees. Subsequently some of them switched their allegiance to the UPFA allegedly to avoid being investigated by the government.

Addressing the media at the defeated presidential candidate General (retd) Sarath Fonseka’s political office at Rajakeeya Mawatha, Ranatunga said that in the run-up to the recently concluded presidential polls the President he had unequivocally emphasised that would concentrate on tackling waste, corruption and irregularities in the post-LTTE era. He doubted the government would deny nominations to politicians named in COPE and PAC reports submitted to Parliament.

In a policy statement issued in the run-up to the January 26 presidential polls, the UPFA promised to formulate regulations to tackle corruption at the highest levels of the government.

He said that they hadn’t yet abandoned their efforts to bring in the JVP back to the fold. An irate Ranatunga said that he quit his ministerial portfolio some time ago to fight corruption. He said that during his eight year tenure as a parliamentarian he observed corruption even in parliament.

At the end of the media briefing, Ranatunga told The Island that he would most probably contest from the Colombo electoral district due to his brothers doing politics in the Gampaha district. One of his younger brothers, Ruwan is contesting on the UPFA ticket, while elder brother Prasanna is the Chief Minister of the Western Province.

Ranatunga said that he firmly believed that no one could challenge Fonseka’s leadership role in the war against LTTE terror. He was the man, who had created a safe environment in the country, to allow people to walk on roads without fear. The credit should go to him not to politicians, he said, emphasising that he would stand by Fonseka.

JVP General Secretary Tilvin Silva said that the DNA’s was the only political alternative capable of taking on the government. He said that they had the strength to go ahead with their campaign, though the Army held Fonseka on false conspiracy charges. He was a war hero but today treated shabbily for taking on the President whereas former LTTE terrorists responsible for massacres, including that of 600 police personnel in 1990 live luxuriously.

He alleged that UPFA goons and police had disrupted several protests organised by the Opposition against the arrest of Fonseka following the election.

Defeated presidential candidate Sarath Manamendra of the Nava Sihala Urumaya launched a scathing attack on the UNP and its leader Ranil Wickremesinghe for being politically selfish. He said that the Opposition could not forget Fonseka and allow him to rot in military custody while political parties, which backed the former Army Chief go separate ways at the parliamentary polls. Wickremesinghe couldn’t wash his hands off the issue, he said.

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