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Sri Lanka’s activist lawyers hail President for not interfering in bribery sting

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Lawyers for Democracy, an activist group, hailed President Maithripala Sirisena for not interfering after his chief of staff as arrested on allegation of taking a bribe from an Indian investor, drawing parallels with the former regime.

"In this moment, when President Sirisena’s chief of staff has been netted by an independent commission during a sting operation, as he was soliciting a Rs 20 million bribe, there is only one pertinent question to ask," Lawyers for Democracy said in a statement.

"Given the impunity the former regime showed to crimes by its inner circle, would the arrest of Gamini Senarath, former Chief of Staff to President Mahinda Rajapaksa ever have been possible during his reign?"

"We have no hesitation recognising that in this instance, the head of State has practiced good governance, by refusing to interfere in the raid or the investigative process.

"It is our fervent and sincere hope that this shall be the course of future anti-corruption action in Sri Lanka going forward and other politicians in power will follow the exemplary conduct and precedent set by the President in this instance."

Sri Lanka’s President has come under fire for issuing frequencies and also over a deal involving the purchase of a navy ship.

The lawyers also praised officials of the anti-bribery unit.

"It is vital that the people recognise the courage displayed by officials in the Bribery Commission in the recent past where corruption cases were filed against powerful former officials like Gotabaya Rajapakse and a serving Court of Appeal Judge," the lawyers said.

"Still, rogue elements mobilise supporters to protect the corrupt with the active support of the previous regime."

"It is our fervent and sincere hope that this shall be the course of future anti-corruption action in Sri Lanka going forward and other politicians in power will follow the exemplary conduct and precedent set by the President in this instance.

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"The elimination of corruption requires serious political commitment and courageous investigators who have the unwavering support of the public at large.

"We urge the people of Sri Lanka to take serious note of the urgent need to support institutions that are battling corruption within the system, and investigators in both the Bribery Commission and the Police Department.

Sri Lanka’s Good Governance or Yahapalanaya administration lost political capital after Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe failed to take early action against then Governor Arjuna Mahendran and also dragged several young parliamentarians into the controversy. (Colombo/May05/2018)
 

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