The United States has lodged strong protests with Sri Lanka over the arrest of opposition presidential candidate retired General Sarath Fonseka and remarks attributed to Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa that the US funded the opposition’s campaign.
Sri Lanka’s Ambassador Jaliya Wickremasuriya was summoned to the State Department in Washington to be handed a protest note over the two issues. Robert Blake, US Assistant Secretary for Near East and Central Asian Affairs, told Mr. Wickremasuriya the US Government was deeply concerned over the two issues.
US Embassy spokesperson Jeff Anderson declined to comment. “I am sorry I cannot say anything on the matter,” he said yesterday. However, a Foreign Ministry source in Colombo confirmed Ambassador Wickremasuriya was summoned to the State Department to be handed a protest note.
The Singapore-based Straits Times quoted Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa as saying that the United States and Norway had funded Gen. Fonseka’s campaign for the January 26 presidential election.In separate statements, both the US and the norwegian Embassies in Colombo denied the accusations.
Foreign Minister Rohita Bogollagama on Friday met Valerie C. Fowler, Deputy Chief of Mission of the United States Embassy in Sri Lanka. Ambassador Patricia Butenis is out of the country.
Foreign Ministry sources said Mr. Bogollagama explained the circumstances under which Gen. (retd.) Fonseka was arrested by the Military Police. He has said the General was being dealt with under the Army Act.