Lankan minister slams Facebook over ‘censorship’

12 November, 2019 12:00 AM printer

COLOMBO: A senior Sri Lankan minister accused social media giant Facebook on Monday of censoring comments he made questioning the citizenship of presidential election frontrunner Gotabhaya Rajapakse, reports AFP.

The nationality of Rajapakse, brother of former strongman president Mahinda, is a key issue ahead of voting Saturday as Sri Lankan law prohibits dual citizens from holding elected office.

Communications Minister Harin Fernando asked in a Facebook post on his official ministry page Sunday whether Rajapakse should be allowed to stand, suggesting he was still a US national.

“Is Mr. Rajapakse legally able to contest at a Presidential election in Sri Lanka?” Fernando asked in the now-deleted post. “If elected, will he able to take oaths and discharge the duties of the office?” Gotabhaya became a US citizen in 2003, giving up his Sri Lanka passport after migrating to Los Angeles following a 20-year military career.

He returned to Colombo in 2005, when he says he reclaimed Sri Lankan citizenship and was appointed defence secretary in his brother’s administration.

Gotabhaya insists he renounced US citizenship in May this year.

Fernando said Facebook took down the post from his official ministry page on Sunday, and he repeated the allegations on Twitter while complaining he had been censored.