US denies funding opposition

SisonThe US Embassy in Sri Lanka denied on Saturday it was “pumping money” into the country to topple President Mahinda Rajapaksa after the allegations were levelled by a minister.

Resettlement Minister Gunaratne Weerakoon accused US envoy Michele Sison of seeking to fund opposition forces in the election campaign in order to oust Rajapaksa who is seeking an unprecedented third term in next month’s elections.

“She is pumping money to topple President Mahinda Rajapaksa,” the minister told an election campaign rally Friday.
The embassy strongly rejected the minister’s accusations.

“The allegations by Minister Gunaratne Weerakoon are baseless,” the embassy said in a statement. “They reflect a fundamental misunderstanding of our engagement with senior government officials and our policy toward Sri Lanka as well as the US political and economic system.”

The minister also alleged that Sison had offered him “a five-year scholarship for my children (and) a house in the US and a green card” if he agreed to a demand to remove military camps in the island’s former war zone.

Dismantling the camps has been a longstanding demand of US and other Western nations, as well as of neighboring India, which have criticized Colombo’s human rights record.

“I said closing army camps is not something I can do, but it is up to the president,” Weerakoon said. Sison left Sri Lanka Saturday after completing her term as ambassador. Prior to her departure, she met with President Rajapaksa and Foreign Minister G. L. Peiris who had “congratulated her on strengthening bilateral ties,” the statement added. (Arab News) 

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