Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, his son Namal Rajapaksa and brother Chamal Rajapaksa were conspicuous by their absence in Parliament yesterday when the adjournment debate on the New York Times investigative report was taken up.
Many Government members as well as the JVP accused former President Rajapaksa for undertaking a tour in Singapore dodging an important debate that is directly connected to him.Notably, Joint Opposition Parliamentary Group Leader Dinesh Gunawardena also chose to be absent despite his name being included in the list of speakers from the JO for yesterday’s debate.
MP Gunawardena, who was present in the House earlier on the day, was not present when the Chair read out his name.
JVP Leader Anura Dissanayake said former President Rajapaksa has a duty to attend Parliament and respond to the serious allegation of receiving USD 7.6 million to his polls campaign.
“This is a direct accusation against him. I thought that he would remain in the chamber throughout the debate to confront allegations made against him and prove that he was not guilty. On the contrary, we saw how hard the pro-Rajapaksa clan tried to hamper the debate. At least somebody of his family could have come to Parliament and reply on behalf of the former President,” he noted.
The MP, commenting on former President Rajapaksa’s comment that he does not bother to reply to the NYT report as he does not intend to contest an election in the US, said Rajapaksa owes an explanation to the people in Sri Lanka as he had trapped the country in a debt crisis and had endangered the country’s economic and political independence. “The country needs an explanation from him not as a former President, a current MP or as a future candidate in elections, but simply as an ordinary citizen of this country. If he is a real citizen, he should have replied without dodging the debate,” he added. UNP MP Thushara Indunil, Law and Order Deputy Minister Nalin Bandara and many other UNP members also questioned the absence of the former President and his family members.