Sri Lanka ex-president protected by 213 body guards, 21 vehicles

COLOMBO (EconomyNext) – Sri Lanka’s defeated presidential candidate Mahinda Rajapakse is protected by 213 body guards from the army and the police and enjoyed the use of 21 vehicles, government spokesman Rajitha Senaratne said today.

He said the former strongman who was crushed at January elections had been claiming that he did not have adequate security to move about in the country and that prompted the government to disclose details of his security entourage.

"He is trying to give the excuse of (a lack of) security to stay away from meeting people," Senaratne told reporters. "We have given him more security than what he gave (former)  president (Chandrika) Kumaratunga."

Kumaratunga filed action in the supreme court to get what she was legally entitled to as a former head of state. In a 2007 decision, the Supreme Court had said she was entitled to two cars and one security vehicle, far less than what Rajapakse has been given.

Rajapakse now uses three limousines, including two bullet-proof vehicles, and 19 other vehicles as part of security entourage.

Rajapakse was also protected by 108 army personnel and 105 police officers, way above the security allocated to a cabinet minister.

Former presidents are entitled to a level of protection that is given to cabinet ministers who can have up to 30 security personnel.

Senaratne said over and above the vehicles officially allocated for Rajapakse’s use, he had also taken 30 cars from the presidential secretariat when he vacated the presidential secretariat and was yet to return most of them.

Hundreds of luxury vehicles have also disappeared from the president’s office when Rajapakse lost the elections and the authorities are still trying to recover them.

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