Mangala's 'misdeeds' to be probed
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Mangala's 'misdeeds' to be probed

The Lankan president has appointed a panel to probe the former minister's misdeeds, reports PK Balachandran.

india Updated: Feb 14, 2007 17:21 IST

To put further pressure on Mangala Samaraweera, the ring leader of the dissidents in the ruling Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), President Mahinda Rajapaksa is to investigate his "misdeeds" when he was a cabinet minister.

The state-owned Daily News reported on Wednesday, that the President had decided to appointed a commission to investigate "irregularities, malpractices and misdeeds" in the Ports Authority.

Samaraweera was Minister of Ports and Civil Aviation before he was sacked a few days ago.

The Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) would also be investigating the shady deals, the paper said.

Among the charges are: appointment of Tokyo Cement Co,as the sole dealer in the Eastern Province for five years; renting out a building belonging to the Port Authority in Beruwela to a private party for 30 years; utilisation of Port Authority funds to construct a beach park in his home town of Matara; adoption of irregular tender procedure for the beautification of Galle Face Green in Colombo; and attempting to lease out a prime property in Colombo to an MNC.

But Samaraweera has said that he will answer all the charges made against him at a press conference to be held here on Thursday.

In the meanwhile, he has reportedly sent another letter to Rajapaksa making charges against his administration.

According to Daily Mirror Samaraweera has pointed out that the confidants of the President had tried to launch a new airline Mihin Airwithout consulting him; that a person close to the President was interfering with appointments in the Ports Authority; and, most importantly, the government had deviated from its commitment to peace, by opting for war rather than a negotiated settlement of the Tamil problem.

Samaraweera had already written five pungent letters before the President took away all his portfolios last week.

A little earlier, he had lost the prestigious portfolio of Foreign Affairs in a cabinet reshuffle.

Taking back the three sacked dissident ministers is now only a very remote possibility, political observers say.

The president sees the revolt as a betrayal of the highest order and is particularly angry with Samarweera, the ring leader.

To make up for the lost numbers in parliament, the President is reportedly trying to get some more MPs from the opposition United National Party (UNP).

Eighteen MPs had recently crossed over and all were given ministerships.Six more would be welcome, reports say.

And sure enough, sources in the UNP say that six more are ready to cross over if they get reasonably good portfolios.

The Sri Lankan Council of Ministers is already 103 strong and constitutes 45.7 per cent of the parliament of 225 members.

First Published: Feb 14, 2007 17:21 IST