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Sri Lanka political crisis deepens as Bribery DG quits

By Our Political Correspondent

Oct 17, 2016 14:31 PM GMT+0530 | 7 Comment(s)

  

ECONOMYNEXT, Sri Lanka's simmering political crisis worsened on Monday as the head of the bribery commission resigned in protest over the controversial remarks of President Maithripala Sirisena questioning her integrity.

Dilrukshi Dias Wickramasinghe tendered her resignation to Sirisena who had appointed her last year after the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption (CIABOC) was re-established as a fully independent body.

"She sent her letter of resignation to the president today," CIABOC Commissioner Neville Guruge told reporters.

There was no immediate comment from the President or his office, but sources close to Director-General Wickramasinghe said she was quitting protesting President Sirisena's remarks on Wednesday questioning her integrity.

Her resignation deepens a crisis between the President and the Prime Minister over anti-graft investigations carried out by three instituitions -- the CIABOC, the Financial Crimes Investigations Division and the Criminal Investigations Division of the police.

Related: Sri Lanka heads for uneasy new political trajectory

While CIABOC's independence is guaranteed by the 19th amendment to the constitution, the FCID and the CID are controlled by the police, which comes under Law and Order Minister Sagala Ratnayake, a loyalist of the Premier.

Sirisena's apparent U-turn on corruption and investigations into high profile cases has stunned even his senior aides who said he had not consulted any of them before making the remarks on Wednesday at the Sri Lanka Foundation.

He publicly condemned the CIABOC and Wickramasinghe for last month's prosecution of three retired admirals and the former defence secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa.

Sirisena said he condemned the prosecution with "disgust". All four were given bail, although legal experts noted that it was highly unusual to release them on bail.

The quartet was accused of defrauding the state of Rs11,400 million. Any loss of over Rs25,000 usually attracts a mandatory remand period of at least two weeks.

Sirisena said military commanders who led the successful campaign to crush separatist Tamil Tiger rebels in 2009 should not be humiliated by bringing them to court.

Wickramasinghe, a senior prosecutor from the state Attorney General's department, has launched several high profile investigations against members of the former regime, as well as those of the Rajapaksa family.

Sirisena's outburst came days after Namal Rajapaksa, the son of the former leader, filed a petition in court saying that prosecutions against him were politically motivated, a claim now confirmed by President Sirisena.

The President accused Wickramasinghe's CIABOC of working according to a "political agenda" and vowed to take unspecified "stern action" against the CIABOC, as well as two other anti-corruption bodies, the Financial Crimes Investigations Division (FCID) and the Crime Investigations Division (CID).

The President's remarks signalled a rift between him and the national unity government led by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, which oversees the FCID and the CID.

The two men are from rival parties, but made a common cause to topple former strongman Rajapaksa, whose entire family and closest associates face allegations of corruption as well as murder.

(COLOMBO, Oct 17, 2016)


 

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7 Comments

  1. Jayasingha October 18, 08:05 AM

    The president is correct. Also is the JO. It is clearly evident that this lady is selectively targeting only the complaints against JO MPs and Rajapakses. There is no solid action against the complaint on the CB issue the biggest fraud ever and govt: ministers which have been filed with her office. Obviously she is acting on a political agenda set according to the PM's wishes.

  2. Nimal October 18, 07:42 AM

    It is relevant to say that no case has been filed about the central bank bond issue - yet. However we do not yet know whether or not she did an impartial investigation and whether a case would have been filed in due course.

    People wanted big fish. Now when big fish are being taken to court, the President is complaining. These are after all crimes committed earlier. Usually big fish are pretty good at covering tracks, sometimes they get caught on smaller matters when they are careless.

    President could have given a pardon for services rendered to the state if he wanted to. But he should not stop people from being taken to courts. No one is above the law, not war heroes not the president.

  3. Dream October 18, 02:41 AM

    Why CIABOC completely silent on the Central Bank fraud? There is clear evidence on this case. None of these organizations and NGO goons of good governance talk about the CB scam. People who use a govt vehicle get remanded but the crooks who stole billions are free

  4. Edward October 18, 01:38 AM

    Rajapaksha faction is quite correct when they said that a new government will be formed very soon. That prediction appears to become true very soon. This is the end for the action against graft and corruption for many years under Rajapakshas.

    This lady is the protector of people against theft by the powerful looters. She should be the next leader of the country. Sirisena is just like an Eel, with a snake head and tail of a fish.

    Sirisena is a just a slippery Eel, who is exploiting both sides of the political spectrum showing the tail to some and head to others.

  5. punchinilame October 18, 01:50 AM

    The outburst has created an unexpected situation in Good Governance (GG1) by being overtaken by GG2 (Gon Gamaralla),following which the 3 heads made up the Gon Good Governance (GGG3). Let us hope this will resolve itself with time?

  6. Gon Giaboob October 18, 01:32 AM

    So, she does not have a house in Colombo..... That's the truth according to Giabao.... Colombo Suburb is not Colombo....

  7. Giabao October 17, 02:51 AM

    How can one trust her when she had reportedly told authorities that she does not own a house in Colombo when in fact she was seen living in a house in Colombo suburbs.

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