Kumaratunge rejects UNP plea to pardon Dissanayake

[TamilNet, Sunday, 29 May 2005, 13:39 GMT]
Sri Lanka's President Chandrika Kumaratunge Friday rejected an appeal by main Opposition United National Party (UNP) to pardon and release the party's jailed National Organiser and former minister S.B Dissanayake, sources said. Mr Dissanayake was one-time Ms Kumaratunge's close confidante and champion minister.

Former Minister of Economic Reforms in the UNP Government, Mr. Milinda Morogoda, sought a meeting with the President on this matter after meeting Mr. Dissanayake in Welikade prison last month. Former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and UNP's working and political affairs committees later authorized Mr. Moragoda to meet the President at Mr. Dissanayake's request.

During the meeting held President's House Friday Ms Kumaratunge told Mr Moragoda that granting a pardon to Mr. Dissanayake after being convicted by the Supreme Court would tantamount to questioning the judgement of the court but indicated that she was prepared to have further consultations and review her decision.

According to media reports Mr. Moragoda had to wait for over five hours to meet the President.

Some UNP stalwarts who were opposed to Mr. Moragoda's move to seek for presidential pardon cautioned the party leadership that the move is "politically suicidal" and would compromise UNP's integrity and self-respect in future elections.


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