Tue, Mar 09, 2010 - Page 4 News List

Sri Lankan official says India wanted president to lose poll

AFP AND AP , COLOMBO

India’s external intelligence agency tried to undermine Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse at polls in January and wanted him defeated, a minister said in an interview published yesterday.

Sri Lankan Minister of Postal Services Nandana Goonathilake said the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), India’s foreign intelligence service, had worked against Rajapakse at the Jan. 26 vote even though the Indian government publicly supported him.

“How the RAW operates and the way that the government of India operates are sometimes very different,” Goonathilake told the Daily Mirror newspaper.

“This is why I said though the Indian government was for President Rajapakse, particular [RAW]officials worked against him,” Goonathilake said.

His remarks came as Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao was in Colombo to discuss post-war politics and reconciliation in the island.

Rao held closed-door talks with Rajapakse on Sunday and pledged more support to re-settle thousands of ethnic Tamils displaced during the final phase of fighting between troops and Tamil Tiger rebels last year.

“She expressed India’s willingness to continue assisting Sri Lanka in the resettlement of the IDPs [internally displaced people],” Rajapakse’s office said.

Sri Lanka has been internationally criticized for holding up to some 300,000 Tamils in internment camps which were eventually closed earlier this year.

The government crushed the Tamil Tigers last May in a giant offensive that remains dogged by war crimes allegations.

Meanwhile, former army chief and presidential hopeful Sarath Fonseka began a hunger strike on Saturday after being barred from using a telephone, his party said on Sunday.

Fonseka was arrested a month ago after he lost the presidential election and is being detained in a naval complex in Colombo.

Officials have said he will face a court martial on several charge from before he gave up his army command last year.

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