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New Indian Defence Adviser calls on SL Defence Secretary, Army and Navy Commanders

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After observing the health protocols stipulated by the government of Sri Lanka for diplomats arriving in the country, the new Defence Adviser to the High Commission of India Captain (Indian Navy) Vikas Sood had interactions with senior officials of the Defence Ministry and armed forces over the past week.

Captain Sood paid courtesy calls on Defence Secretary Maj. Gen. (Retd) Kamal Gunaratne, Acting Chief of Defence Staff and Commander of the Sri Lanka Army, Lt. Gen. Shavendra Silva and Commander of the Navy, Vice Admiral Nishantha Ulugetenne.

During the interactions, marked by traditional cordiality and camaraderie between the armed forces of the two countries, a range of matters of mutual interest in bilateral defence cooperation were discussed. A strong commitment to further strengthen the defence relationship between the two countries was reiterated by participants on both sides.

It was noted that India and Sri Lanka enjoy a strong and growing defence relationship pillared on extensive cooperation in capacity building, such as through training, and other close linkages. More than 50% of all foreign military training slots in India are allocated to Sri Lankan defence personnel.

It was observed that commonality of security concerns and challenges as well as the mutual resolve to address them for ensuring peace and security in our shared region guide the bilateral defence ties. Regular high level exchanges and visits, joint training and exercises, ship visits and sports interactions are the key elements of this robust cooperation.

Satisfaction was expressed at several high level exchanges and interactions between the two countries in the field of defence this year, despite the travel restrictions in the wake of the COVID 19 pandemic. Besides several delegation level visits, Maj Gen (retired) Kamal Gunaratne with Lt. Gen. Shavendra Silva, participated in Def Expo 2020 at Lucknow, India in February 2020.

The gratitude of India for the excellent cooperation by Sri Lanka Navy and Sri Lanka Ports Authority in the repatriation of Indian nationals from Sri Lanka in June 2020 when INS Jalashwa undertook a visit to Sri Lanka was conveyed. The smooth conduct of this operation is a testimony to extremely close ties between Indian and Sri Lankan Armed Forces.

It was also noted that in line with the commitment of the leadership of the two countries to cooperate in facing COVID-19 challenges, India had extended essential medical assistance to Sri Lanka in recent months. In this context, it was recalled that the Indian Navy had gifted two transportation pods to transfer COVID 19 patients and four thermal scanners to the Sri Lanka Navy.

In the context of sharing Sri Lanka’s valuable experience in effectively fighting COVID, the recent participation of Maj Gen HJS Gunawardena, Chief of Staff of the Sri Lanka Army in a webinar organized by India for various partner countries including Bangladesh, Thailand and Myanmar to share best practices followed by Sri Lanka was appreciated.

It was noted that the participation of more than 400 Sri Lankan tri-services personnel in the celebration of ‘International Day of Yoga’ on June 21 this year at Sri Lanka Army Headquarters is further testimony to the close professional and cultural affinity between the two countries and their armed forces.

 

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EC member Hoole moves SC against 20A

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Petitions challenging 20A before five-judge bench of SC today 

By Chitra Weerarathne

Petitions filed in the Supreme Court, challenging the constitutionality of the proposed 20th Amendment to the Constitution of Sri Lanka, will be called before a five-judge bench today.

These petitions have said that people’s approval at a referendum as well as a two-thirds majority in Parliament will be needed to enact the Bill.

All the petitions have basically said that the Bill has a section, which says a dual citizen can contest to enter the Parliament of Sri Lanka and run for President threatened national security.

The petitions challenge the powers vested in the President. The President could sack the Prime Minister and the Ministers. Once the Bill becomes law, fundamental rights petitions could not be filed to challenge an act of the President, the petitions have pointed out.

The investigating powers of the Auditor General have been curtailed. The powers vested in the Elections Commission when an election is on is also limited, the petitioners have argued.

The petitions have requested the Supreme Court to declare that a two-thirds majority in Parliament and people’s approval at a referendum will be needed to enact the proposed amendment.

Among the petitioners are Elections Commission member Ratnajeevan Hoole, the Samagi Jana Balavegaya, Attorney-at-Law Indika Gallage, Mayantha Dissanayake, S. J. B. Member of Parliament for the Kandy District and also the President of the Youth League of the Samagi Jana Balavegaya.

The Supreme Court bench will comprise the Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya, Justice Buwaneka Aluwihare, Justice Sisira de Abrew, Justice S. Thurairajah and Justice Vijith K. Malalgoda.

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Senasinghe announces quitting politics

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By Akitha Perera

Former non-cabinet minister of the yahapalana government Sujeewa Senasinghe announced yesterday that he would quit politics. 

He had also stepped down as the SJB Deputy Secretary, Senasinghe said. 

Senasinghe said that he intended to focus on his business in the future and that he would commence work on his PhD from January 2021. 

He unsuccessfully contested the Aug 05 general election from the Colombo district on SJB ticket.

Senasinghe commenced his political career as a member of the Western Provincial Council of the UNP. He was elected to Parliament twice from the same party. 

He earned notoriety by publishing a book denying the bond scam ever took place.

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Pujith insists his hands were tied during crucial period 

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

He had been aware that the activities and preaching of Islamists would have an impact on reconciliation, but those in higher positions were convinced otherwise, former IGP Pujith Jayasundara, yesterday, told the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) investigating the Easter Sunday attacks.

The ex-IGP said that although he too had received information about activities of Islamic extremists by late 2018, he had been barred from the National Security Council (NSC) by then.

“I couldn’t share the information I had and I didn’t know what was discussed there. I couldn’t even assign a senior officer to represent me there.”

Jayasundara added that after he had received, on April 09, a report from State Intelligence Service (SIS) Director Nilantha Jayawardena about a possible terrorist attack, he forwarded the report to SDIG of Western Province, Nandana Munasinghe, SDIG crimes and STF M.R. Latheef, DIG special protection range Priyalal Dasanayake and Director of the Terrorism Investigation Division, Waruna Jayasundara and spoke to them over the phone.

Jayasundara said that he had also phoned all SDIGs in charge of provinces. The witness added that he had wanted to ensure that there would not be a leak, causing unnecessary problems in society.

“For example, the letter I sent to the Special Protection Range (SPR) was leaked to the media after the attacks.”

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