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Govt wasn’t first to sign ACSA, yet to sign SOFA – Hector

By Nisali De Silva

Certain parties are trying to disrupt the Government’s development drive by creating an “American phobia” among the general public for petty political gain, United National Party (UNP) MP Hector Appuhamy said.

The UNP-led Government has not yet signed the controversial Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) and any agreement signed will be no different to the one signed by former President Chandrika Kumaratunga in 1994, Appuhamy told journalists at Temple Trees this morning (3 July).

“We have not signed any SOFA agreement; nor have we changed it. We have, however, discussed it with the other party since a legal problem has arisen. We opposed the proposal to exclude American citizens from local jurisdiction if they commit any offence in Sri Lanka,” he said.

Appuhamy further said that those who now “lament over American agreements” were silent when then Secretary to the Ministry of Defence Gotabaya Rajapaksa and former American Ambassador to Sri Lanka Robert Blake signed the Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement (ACSA) in 2007.

“When the agreement was signed in 2007, it was valid for 10 years. After that, it is supposed to be extended and that is what we are engaged in. But some people who pretend to be patriotic are creating an American phobia to push their hidden agenda,” he added.

The UNP backbencher MP also said some people are misrepresenting the Government for the American-funded Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) programme which provides USD 480 Million for the development of Sri Lanka.