When Prez feels unsafe

What may have been dismissed by many as a mere figment of the imagination of a disgruntled stool pigeon a few weeks ago has turned out to be a serious issue. It now figures in heated exchanges between the UNP and the SLFP at ministerial meetings, we are told.

President Maithripala Sirisena’s security has been beefed up in view of the alleged assassination plot revealed by self-proclaimed anti-corruption campaigner and police informant, Namal Kumara. The arrest of an Indian national has given the alleged plot a whole new twist.

A top presidential aide has complained of a sinister move to hush up the ongoing investigations into the alleged assassination plot. Presidential Advisor and senior lawyer Shrilal Lakthilake, who, on Thursday, briefed the press on the alleged plot, chose to leave unsaid who was trying to suppress the probe. If a high level investigation into an alleged bid to kill the President is not free from political interference, how can the government claim that other probes are being conducted properly?

The government claims to have restored the rule of law and made the country safe for people to live in. President Sirisena’s grave concerns about his own safety have given the lie to this claim. According to Namal Kumara’s complaint, the conspiracy was against both the President and former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa. Has Rajapaksa’s security also been strengthened?

The CID has informed the courts that the Indian national claimed that the plot was to eliminate the President and the entire Rajapaksa family. The government has sought to deny media reports to this effect by claiming that the CID has not mentioned anything about a threat to the Rajapaksa family in the B report. We have dared the government to get the police to take up the media reports in courts and request that they be corrected if it is confident that the CID never made the statement at issue before the Magistrate. The otherwise pugnacious yahapalana spokesmen have chosen to ignore our challenge; perhaps, they do not want to get exposed for lying once again.

Who is in a position to try to derail the ongoing probe into the alleged assassination plot? The Joint Opposition is without power to do so. In fact, there is no reason why it should ever do so; its heavyweight, Gotabaya was on the hit list, according to Namal Kumara. The JVP, the SLMC, the TNA etc. cannot be suspected of such a move by any stretch of the imagination. It is not difficult to see that only the UNP is in a position to influence a CID probe in that it holds the law and order portfolio and wields political power. It may be recalled that when Namal Kumara first revealed the alleged assassination bid, the kneejerk reaction of the UNP spokesmen was to make little of it and call Kumara’s credibility into question.

The yahapalana government’s policy is to have suspects arrested even before investigations begin. Its political rivals who are summoned to the CID and the FCID to record statements are taken to remand prisons. But, strangely, this course of action has not been adopted in dealing with DIG Nalaka de Silva, who headed the Terrorist Investigation Division (TID), when he was accused of conspiring to kill the President and Gotabaya.

Retired and serving top cops have been arrested over the killing of a ruggerite. All those responsible for the young player’s death must be punished. But, the question is why the police officer who is allegedly to have conspired to kill the President has not been arrested. But for tremendous pressure the UNP came under to take action againist him, DIG de Silva would have stayed put. He has been interdicted at long last. We are not calling for anyone’s arrest, but double standards on the part of the police and the government, or the UNP faction of it to be exact, are too obvious to be ignored.

It is only natural that the President’s camp thinks there is a move to cover up the assassination bid probe.


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