Sri Lanka nationalist BBS a Western conspiracy: Mahinda Rajapaksa
Apr 24, 2015 11:25 AM GMT+0530 | 13 Comment(s)
LION FLAG: Supporters of ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa's brother Gothabaya waving flags similar to Sri Lanka's national flag without the stripes depicting minorities on April 23
Colombo (EconomyNext) - Sri Lanka's Sinhala nationalist Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) was a Western-backed conspiracy to alienate minority Muslims and defeat his government, former president Mahinda Rajapaksa has said.
In an interview with the French news agency, AFP, the former leader said on Wednesday that neither he nor his defence secretary brother had anything to do with the BBS despite popular belief that the Rajapaksas were behind the group.
"Look at where the BBS travelled (Norway and the US)," Rajapaksa said. "It is clearly a (then) opposition project."
He accused JHU leader Patali Champika Ranawaka of defending the BBS at a time when he wanted to take action against the group widely held responsible for a string of attacks against minority Muslims.
A BBS office in the southern city of Galle was opened by Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, but the then defence ministry spokesman had denied government links with the extremist group.
The BBS itself had repeatedly denied it was a proxy of external forces, but Rajapaksa said he was now convinced that the BBS was actually working against his interests.
The former president said he lost the January 8 election partly because minority Muslims ditched him thanks to the work of the BBS.
Rajapaksa said he was also guilty of not taking action against ministers who were corrupt and abused their power when he was president.
"When Mervyn (de Silva) tied officials to trees, I turned a blind eye," Rajapaksa said. "I should have taken action against Mervyn."
"I trusted my ministers too much. Now I know that it was mistake to turn a blind eye to what they were doing."