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GR lambastes foreign interference as US envoy meets Elilan's wife

2014 Jan 25

By Shamindra Ferdinando

US Ambassador to Sri Lanka Michele J. Sisson met Northern Provincial Councillor Ananthi Sasitharan in Jaffna while the Defence Ministry was exploring the possibility of rehabilitating her in view of her alleged LTTE links.

The meeting took place at Hotel Margosa, Chundikulli, Jaffna on Wednesday evening. Among those present were Northern Province Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran and Tamil National Alliance (TNA) MP M.A. Sumanthiran.

A mother of three, Sasitharan, contested the first Northern Provincial Council polls last September on the TNA ticket and polled the second highest number of preferential votes secured by a candidate. Chief Minister Wigneswaran obtained the highest number of preferences.

The TNA delegation had dinner with Ambassador Sisson at Hotel Margosa, according to sources.

Asked whether the Defence Ministry plan for rehabilitating Sasitharan had come up for discussion during dinner, a US embassy spokesperson said: "We don’t have any details to share on any discussions."

Sasitharan was married to Trincomalee District LTTE political wing leader Elilan.

Ambassador Sisson was in Jaffna to launch a programme to support the Jaffna fisher community. It was in accordance with a USAID livelihoods project worth approximately Rs. 196 mn.

Addressing a public gathering in the Batticaloa District on Thursday, the Defence Secretary alleged that the US Ambassador in Sri Lanka was interfering in domestic affairs. The Defence Secretary was addressing religious dignitaries and civil society representatives in the Eastern Province at Hotel East Lagoon, in Batticaloa.

Defence Secretary Rajapaksa lashed out at those who had been pushing for foreign intervention in Sri Lanka even after the conclusion of the conflict in May 2009.

Rajapaksa, who is also Secretary, Urban Development, said that foreigners would only make matters worse, therefore all communities should resolve to settle their problems themselves.

An irate Defence Secretary alleged that the US Ambassador had overstepped her mandate. He said the Rajapaksas had been in politics for 75 years and they were capable of tackling post-war issues. Emphasising the pivotal importance of thwarting foreign interference in domestic issues, the Defence Secretary said that the country could proceed without advice from diplomats.

Recollecting the circumstances leading to eelam war IV in mid 2006, Defence Secretary Rajapaksa said that those living in the Northern and Eastern regions knew the measures taken by the government to restore normalcy since the eradication of the LTTE.

Security forces brought the entire Eastern Province under government control in mid 2007.

The Defence Secretary said that the government speedily handled resettlement, de-mining, rehabilitation, as well as disarming of armed groups subsequent to the conclusion of the conflict.

Responding to a query by The Island yesterday, Defence Secretary Rajapaksa said that a section of the LTTE couldn’t be accepted as a political wing. During the Norwegian arranged Ceasefire Agreement, terrorists had masqueraded as political activists to operate in government held areas, the Defence Secretary insisted. The Defence Secretary said that an attempt was being made to differentiate the LTTE fighting cadre and a non-existent political wing.

Those who had been accusing the GoSL over accountability issues weren’t bothered about the TNA calling the LTTE the sole representatives of Tamil speaking people in late 2001, Rajapaksa said.

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