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Sri Lankan president refuses to halt corruption probe

COLOMBO, May 6 (Xinhua)-- Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena has rejected a request by former leader Mahinda Rajapakse to stop the bribery and corruption investigations against his supporters, a high-ranking government official said on Wednesday.

Rajapakse had laid this condition to meet Sirisena on Wednesday afternoon where both are expected to discuss the future of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) of which Sirisena is the chairman and Rajapakse a senior adviser. "President Sirisena has clearly rejected this condition put forward by Rajapakse as he has stressed that in order to maintain good governance, those involved in corrupt activities have to be probed. He will not interfere with the law,"the official said.

The government official, on request of anonymity, told Xinhua that Rajapakse had also laid the condition to become the SLFP's Prime Ministerial candidate, which was once again rejected by Sirisena who stated that the party's Prime Ministerial candidate would be decided only on the votes after the parliamentary elections. "President Sirisena has given his consent for Rajapakse to contest the parliamentary election, but he has made it clear to Rajapakse that the people's aspirations will come first when it comes to electing the SLFP's Prime Ministerial candidate,"the high ranking official said.

The meeting between Sirisena and Rajapakse which will take place on Wednesday afternoon in the parliament complex would only be limited to party level discussions and would be held without damaging the trust vested in the president by 6.3 million people, the President's Media Division said on Tuesday evening.

However, Rajapaksa has stated that recent arrests of his close associates have indicated that these were politically orchestrated to sabotage his talks with Sirisena on Wednesday.

Releasing a statement to media, Rajapaksa said that"on an earlier occasion, when a date had been set for a meeting between me and President Maithripala Sirisena, my brother Basil was arrested and remanded. This time a member of my security contingent has been arrested after another date was set for that meeting. Today, former minister Johnston Fernando was also arrested."

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