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AG turns down plum diplomatic post, keeps his options open

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… offer made after Canada rejected ex-Air Force Chief as High Commissioner

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Attorney General Dappula de Livera, PC, scheduled to retire later this month, has kept his options open by turning down a government offer of a plum diplomatic post. The Island learns that the government has made the offer in writing.

The offer came in the wake of Canada refusing to accept the appointment of retired Air Force Commander Air Marshal Sumangala Dias as the High Commissioner to Ottawa. Canada, a key member of Sri Lanka Core Group at the Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) asserted that the retired Air Force Chief couldn’t be accommodated due to war crimes allegations against the Sri Lankan military.

Subsequently, Air Marshal Dias was named as Sri Lanka’s Ambassador in Italy, a member of the European Union (EU) backing Geneva moves against the war winning military. EU is also represented in the Sri Lanka Core Group led by the UK.

The Canadian High Commission in Colombo declined to comment on the issue saying, “… It is subject to state-to-state confidentiality.”

The AG’s Office told The Island that the President’s Counsel de Livera, having appreciated the offer of high profile diplomatic posting, has informed the Office of the President, in writing, of his intention to serve the people further.

The AG has received the offer before the all-party parliamentary High Posts Committee (HPC) chaired by Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena cleared the appointment. However, HPC’s approval is routine with successive governments seeking its consent after having made the announcement.

Authoritative sources said that the Constitution allowed the AG and IGP to serve in same capacity even after reaching the retirement age consequent to the enactment of the 20th Amendment to the Constitution last October. The 19th Amendment made it mandatory for the IGP and the AG to retire at 60.

There has been no previous instance of a top public servant giving up an opportunity to serve as head of a top diplomatic mission.

The then Additional Solicitor General and President’s Counsel de Livera captured public attention during the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (P CoI/January 2017-Dec 2017)) into Treasury bond scams perpetrated in 2015 and 2016 before being appointed as the Solicitor General in Feb 2018. A week after April 21, 2019 Easter Sunday carnage, de Livera, received the appointment as Acting AG before being cleared by the Constitutional Council on May 7.

Livera succeeded Jayantha Jayasuriya, PC, who was elevated to the post of Chief Justice.

Following the change of government in Nov 2019, SLPP administration recalled heads of missions to pave the way for new appointments. In addition to the offer made to the incumbent AG, the only other person from legal fraternity to receive diplomatic posting was one-time Chief Justice Mohan Pieris, PC, Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative in New York.

The change in the Office of the AG takes place amidst two high profile cases-Treasury bond scams and Easter Sunday carnage, both perpetrated during the previous administration.

Sources said that the Easter Sunday case had taken a new turn with the unprecedented stand taken by Public Security Minister Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera that anyone detained under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) shouldn’t be allowed to participate in parliamentary proceedings. The Minister’s position contradicted the incumbent AG’s recent instructions issued to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) that All Ceylon Makkal Congress (ACMC) leader and Samagi Jana Balavegaya Vanni District MP Rishad Bathiudeen could attend parliament without any hindrance.

In spite of the consensus among the Speaker’s Office, AG and the CID as regards MP Bathiudeen’s participation in the parliamentary proceedings on May 4 and 5, Minister Weerasekera intervened. The Minister on Wednesday appealed to Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena to reconsider his request to prohibit PTA suspects attending parliament.

 

 



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Employees’ Trust Fund Act No. 46 of 1980 to be amended

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The Cabinet of Ministers approved the proposal presented by the Hon. President in his capacity as the Minister of Finance, Economic Stabilization and National Policies to instruct the legal draftsman to prepare a bill to amend the Employees’ Trust Provident Fund Act No. 46 of 1980 enabling to provide health insurance similar to Agrahara health insurance to private sector employees.

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Cabinet nod for MOU between the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka and the Republic of Maldives on Cultural Cooperation

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The Cabinet of Ministers approved the proposal presented by the Minister of Buddha Sasana, Religious and Cultural affairs to sign a cultural cooperation agreement between the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka and the Maldives. (The draft agreement has received the clearance of the Attorney General and the approval of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs).

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Outgoing Bulgarian Ambassador calls on the President

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(pic PMD)

Mrs. Eleonora Dimitrova, Bulgaria’s Ambassador to Sri Lanka, met President Ranil Wickremesinghe at the Presidential Secretariat on Monday (06), before departing for her home country upon completing her tenure in Sri Lanka.

 

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