Officials from the Presidential Commission of Inquiry to investigate and inquire into serious acts of fraud, corruption and abuse of power, state resources, and privileges have stated that its mandate will continue regardless of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s objections made in respect of its legality.
Rajapaksa’s lawyers earlier questioned the composition of the Commission, raising the point that President Maithripala Sirisena had no power to appoint judges at the High Court to probe into whether Rajapaksa should pay monies owed to state-owned TV channel; Independent Television Network (ITN) regarding his 2015 presidential campaign.
The allegations against the former president are to do with: the appointment of Anura Siriwardena as the CEO of the ITN; the non-payment of advertisement fees by an ad firm to ITN over the former president’s election campaign and a financial loss resulting due to the non-payment; a financial loss of 2.4 million rupees caused to ITN by the non-payment of fees by another ad firm; the non-airing of advertisements on ITN of then Opposition Candidate Maithripala Sirisena when payments for them were received and later returned (causing a loss of income to the tune of 8.6 million rupees for ITN); and the price discrimination apparently implemented between Sirisena and Rajapaksa with regard to payments made to ITN over campaign advertisements (Sirisena was charged double the usual rate, it is alleged).
The former president has maintained that the expenses for his campaign are to be met by the political alliance he headed at the time, the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA). Last Thursday (October 15) marked the first time Rajapaksa was actually summoned to the Commission; its officials had visited his Mirihana residence on September 23.
The Commission has emphatically rejected the objections by Rajapaksa, officials affirmed. The Secretary of the Commission Lasil de Silva further stated that its mandate will continue. As such allegations concerning Rajapaksa and his regime will be investigated as before.