Written by Staff Writer
11 Nov, 2019 | 8:41 pm
Colombo (News 1st): A group of President’s counsels convened a media briefing today (November 11) in response to a press conference held by the Lawyers of Presidential candidate Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
The tweet posted by Minister Harin Fernando last Saturday evening gave rise once again to a debate over the dual citizenship of Gotabaya Rajapaksa. The minister via twitter said Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s name was not included in the Federal Register renouncing the individuals of their U.S Citizenship for the third quarter of 2019.
The Federal Register denouncing the individuals of their U.S Citizenship released with Nandasena Gotabhaya Rajapksha’s name not in it. @gotabayaR will remain a citizen of USA and will not be able to function as President even if he is elected into office.
— Harin Fernando (@fernandoharin) November 9, 2019
In response to his claim, a group including President’s Counsel Ali Sabry convening a media briefing yesterday (November 10) made clarifications regarding the citizenship.
A group of lawyers including President’s Counsel Attorney-at-Law Upul Jayasuriya responded to the points highlighted by President’s Counsel Ali Sabry this evening (November 11). Upul Jayasuriya noted that every candidate was told to swear an oath saying that they are not a citizen of another country and this has been inquired by the Chairman of the National Elections Commission. He said the commissioner verbally made a statement saying that he has not received such documents, at any occasion.
However, he noted that they heard that those documents have been produced before the commission two weeks before, at yesterday’s media briefing. He went onto note that he doesn’t know why they killed time for two weeks if they received the documents because they had the opportunity to present those documents on the day the nominations were submitted. He said they got to know that Chamal Rajapaksa was kept as an alternative for Gotabaya Rajapaksa if the decision of the Court of Appeal was against them.
Upul Jayasuriya said they are curious and suspicious as to why they even had an alternative if they were 100% sure of the qualifications of their candidate. He said the confusion began after the 3rd quarter of this year and this list was presented two days before. He noted that Ali Sabry did not say at any moment that the list which is now out, is an inaccurate list. Jayasuriya pointed out that they accepted that it was an accurate list but they also accepted that Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s name is not included in that list.
Attorney-at-Law Upul Jayasuriya noted that this list has been signed by the Embassy of the United States and the U.S. Embassy which signed the previous list has signed this list as well. He stressed that this is the first list that was presented on the 17th of April saying the application form has been submitted. He pointed out that it is the same signature that is on the certificate of renunciation and it belongs to an official who works at the U.S. Embassy.
Jayasuriya questioned; if his name was not on the list in the 2nd quarter and if this is indeed an accurate document, won’t he take steps to include Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s name to the list of the 3rd quarter? He said hypothetically if Gotabaya Rajapaksa wins, he will have to wait till February to dissolve the Parliament, therefore, if another court case is filed and it is proved that he is a foreign citizen, there is a chance that he might lose the Presidency as well.
Journalists posed several questions in this regard.
Journalist: You had time to raise objections. At that time, why did you not object?
Upul Jayasuriya: Even on the day of nominations, that initial opposition had been dismissed then itself. If this kind of opposition had been raised at the time, this is not the kind of thing that the Election Commissioner could have dismissed or accepted there itself. That is why they presented an affidavit to confirm the stance.
Journalist: Why can’t the United National Party, as a Government, speak to the US Embassy or the US Government and confirm the current status.
Upul Jayasuriya: This is not something a Government can get involved in because this is something to do with the electoral process. It is the candidate of the Podujana Peramuna that this matter relates to. He has the opportunity to confirm the stance regarding the matter. A third party cannot get involved.
Journalist: Is Gotabaya Rajapaksa a Sri Lankan Citizen or an American Citizen?
Upul Jayasuriya: Given that insufficient evidence has been provided there is reasonable doubt as to whether he has given up his American Citizenship–
Journalist: This idea you are bringing forward is very ambiguous. Can you make it clear to the people? Is Gotabaya Rajapaksa a citizen of the United States of America or is he a Sri Lankan citizen?
Upul Jayasuriya: I will give you a clear answer. Personally, I find it hard to believe that Gotabaya Rajapaksa has renounced his US citizenship.
Journalist: The U.S. State Department takes time to release such a list of those who have renounced their citizenship.
Upul Jayasuriya: Let us assume that the norm is that there is a delay. But, at present, the situation in our country is different. A Presidential Election is around the corner. At such a time, the attention of the entire world is directed towards us, including all embassies and high commissions. Against such a backdrop, do you believe the United States of America is not monitoring the situation in our country? As you know, sometimes, when people cannot answer a certain query, they keep quiet. That is the situation which has arisen at present.
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