COLOMBO: Sri Lanka’s former president Mahinda Rajapakse Tuesday denied government allegations that he attempted a coup to remain in office after it became clear that he had lost last week’s election.
“I deny in all possible terms reports of attempts to use the military to influence election results,” the former leader said on Twitter adding that he accepted the verdict before final results were declared on Friday.
Top aides of new President Maithripala Sirisena have alleged that Rajapakse tried to cling to power by persuading the island’s army and police chiefs to deploy the security forces.
Rajapakse broke his silence on the coup allegation just as Pope Francis began a two-day visit to the island and called for justice, healing and unity in a country emerging from a 37-year Tamil separatist war.
Rajapakse, who had invited the pope last year, was not at the welcome ceremony but issued three tweets rejecting the allegations against him.
In his first direct response to the coup charge, Rajapakse said he had “always bowed down to the people’s verdict”.
Rajapakse, who had been South Asia’s longest-serving leader, had been widely praised for conceding defeat to Sirisena before the final results were announced.
Just before the new government was formed on Monday, incoming Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera said Rajapakse had in fact tried to persuade the army and police chiefs to help him stay in office with the use of force.
“People think it was a peaceful transition. It was anything but,” Samaraweera told a press conference at the weekend.
“The first thing the new cabinet will investigate is the coup and conspiracy by president Rajapakse,” he added.