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Prez-PM battle no excuse for intelligence failure – GL

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… ex-spy chief cited to prove futility of political partnerships

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Former State Intelligence Service (SIS) Chief Senior DIG Nilantha Jayawardena’s testimony before the Presidential Commission of Inquiry probing the Easter Sunday carnage had shown why the President and the Prime Minister should not be elected from two different parties, SLPP Chairman, Prof. G.L. Peiris, told The Island.

 Prof. Peiris, who heads the SLPP National List said that former spy chief Jayawardena hadn’t shied away from pointing out how a dispute between President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had placed the SIS in an extremely difficult situation at the onset of yahapalana administration in January 2015.

 The former External Affairs Minister was commenting on Jayawardena’s testimony on Monday (27).

Jayawardena, who had been in the staff of Director General, Intelligence the late Cyril Herath succeeded Senior DIG C.N. Wakista.

 Jayawardena, faulted for failure to thwart the Easter Sunday carnage by a Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) in Oct 2019 explained to PCoI how his outfit struggled to cope with UNP-SLFP coalition in the run-up to a spate of near simultaneous suicide bombings.

Prof. Peiris said that the breakaway UNP faction, the Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) readiness to serve a government under President Gotabaya Rajapaksa should be examined against the backdrop of Jayawardena’s assertion.

 Having repeatedly warned of a dictatorship in case Gotabaya Rajapaksa won 2019 presidential election, its leader Sajith Premadasa on several occasions declared his readiness to serve as the Premier under President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Prof. Peiris said.

 The UNP couldn’t work with Maithripala Sirisena, in spite of him being installed in the Office of the President by the UNP. A devastating political crisis destabilised the much touted yahapalana administration within weeks after 2015 presidential poll. It would be silly even to think about President Gotabaya Rajapaksa having to invite the SJB leader to form the next government, Prof. Peiris said, warning the UNP and SJB to expect debilitating defeat at the Aug 5 presidential poll.

 Responding to another query, Prof. Peiris emphasized that whatever the political complications caused by what he called a disastrous arrangement at that time, the then SIS Chief couldn’t justify their failure to thwart the murderous Thowheed Jamaat project. There was no doubt the political leadership failed, the former minister said, adding that those who allowed the terror project to go ahead by negligence couldn’t solely blame it on the President-Premier battle.

 Describing the beleaguered ex-spy chief as a yahapalana insider, Prof. Peiris alleged that those who had served the previous government sought to side step the key issue.

 The issue at hand is why law enforcement authorities refrained from taking tangible measures in spite of having actionable intelligence from a friendly country, Prof. Peiris said.

 At the time Thowheed Jamaat struck Commander-in-Chief President Sirisena, in addition to defence he also held the law and order portfolio.

 Prof. Peiris said that political rifts couldn’t be allowed to jeopardize national security. Former SIS head’s testimony coupled with that of former presidential secretary P.B. Abeykoon’s exposure showed how the previous administration handled post-war national security, Prof. Peiris said.

 Terrorists could have achieved their objectives without much difficulty due to ‘security services’ playing politics, he said.

 Nilantha Jayawardena received appointment as SIS Chief in March 2015. At that time he was called by the then IGP N.K. Illankagoon to take over SIS, he was in charge of the Kankesanthurai Division in the Jaffna peninsula.

 Prof. Peiris said that the disastrous handling of security/intelligence apparatus leading to the Easter Sunday carnage exposed those who were at the helm of defence apparatus.

 Jayawardena received promotion to the rank of Senior DIG with effect from Feb 28, 2019, with the approval of the National Police Commission (NPC).

 In the wake of the 2019 presidential election, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa for the first time in our history brought the SIS under a military officer. One-time Director of the Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI) Brigadier Suresh Sallay was named new SIS Chief. Subsequently, he was promoted to the rank of Major General

 President Rajapaksa also named retired Maj. Gen. Jagath Alwis as the Chief of National Intelligence (CNI) in place of retired DIG Sisira Mendis.

 Intelligence veteran Maj. Gen. Kapila Hendavitharana served the CNI at the time of the 2015 government change. On the UNP’s request, President Sirisena appointed retired DIG Sisira Mendis as the CNI and Mendis was replaced soon after the Easter attacks.

 Maj. Gen. Hendavitharana told The Island that national intelligence services should present the correct ‘intelligence picture’ to relevant political and military authorities. The assertion that political crisis caused difficulties to the SIS in sharing available information with government partners could not be acceptable. Hendavitharana played a crucial role in the overall intelligence effort against the LTTE during the war before being named the first CNI.

 Hendavitharana said that the country paid a very heavy price for not taking threats posed by extremists/terrorists seriously.

 Nearly 275 persons perished in multiple blasts, over 400 suffered injuries.

 



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Death threats won’t deter us – EC Chairman

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Nimal Punchihewa (Chairman ECSL) picture by PRIYAN DE SILVA
Chairman of the Election Commission of Sri Lanka Nimal Punchihewa told The Island that members of  the election commission won’t be deterred by death threats.
He said that members of the commission  M M Mohamed,  K P P Pathirana and S B Diwarathne have been repeatedly threatened and the police have not been able to apprehend the perpetrators.
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Three people dead after torrential rain in New Zealand

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At least three people have died due to flash flodding in Auckland (picture BBC)

BBC reported that at least three people have died and one is missing after New Zealand’s largest city experienced its “wettest day on record” on Friday.

Auckland is said to have received 75% of its usual summer rainfall in just 15 hours.

A local state of emergency was declared as authorities managed evacuations and widespread flooding.

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Chris Hipkins thanked emergency services for their swift response to the disaster.The new prime minister travelled to Auckland, where he also expressed his condolences to the loved ones of those who died in the floods.

“The loss of life underscores the sheer scale of this weather event and how quickly it turned tragic”, he said in a news conference on Saturday afternoon.

The downpour flooded the airport, shifted houses and resulted in power cuts to homes for hours.

New Zealand’s defence forces were mobilised to assist with evacuations and emergency shelters were set up across the city.

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Parliament prorogued on Friday night

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President says cabinet agreeable to fully implementing 13 A until party leaders decide whether or not to abolish the Amendment

Parliament was prorogued from midnight Friday (27) by President Ranil Wickremesinghe under powers vested in him by Article 70 of the Constitution, parliamentary sources said on Friday.

The Department of Government Printing was due to issue the relevant notification on Friday night but it was not out as this edition went to print.However the President’ Media Division (PMD) confirmed the prorogation on Friday evening saying that President Wickremesinghe “is expected” to make a policy statement based on the decisions taken after the 75th Independence anniversary when parliament recommences on Feb.8.

A separate bulletin said that the president had informed the party leaders Conference on Reconciliation that the cabinet was agreeable to “fully implementing (the) 13th Amendment until party leaders decide whether or not to abolish the Amendment.”

Parliamentary sources explained that a prorogation which is a temporary recess of parliament, should not extend to a period of more than two months, However, such date for summoning parliament may be advanced by another presidential proclamation provided it is summoned for a date not less than three days from the date of such fresh proclamation.

Political observers believe that the prorogation is related to the president’s effort to secure as wide a consensus as possible on the National Question. They dismissed speculation that it is related to the scheduled local elections. This issue was clarified by the PMD bulletin.

When parliament is prorogued, the proclamation should notify the date of the commencement of the new session of parliament under Article 70 of the Constitution.During the prorogation the speaker continues to function and MPs retain their membership of the legislature even though they do not attend meetings of the House.

The effect of a prorogation is to suspend all current business before the House and all proceedings pending at the time are quashed except impeachments.A Bill, motion or question of the same substance cannot be introduced for a second time during the same session. However, it could be carried forward at a subsequent session after a prorogation.

“All matters which having been duly brought before parliament, have not been disposed of at the time of the prorogation, may be proceeded with during the next session,” states the paragraph (4) of article 70 of the constitution.

In the light of this constitutional provision, a prorogation does not result in an end to pending business. Thus, a pending matter may be proceeded with from that stage onwards after the commencement of the new session.

At the beginning of a new session all items of business which were in the order paper need to be re-listed, if it is desired to continue with them.At the end of a prorogation a new session begins and is ceremonially declared open by the president.

He is empowered under the constitution to make a statement of government policy at the commencement of each session of parliament and to preside at ceremonial sittings of parliament in terms of the provisions of paragraph (2) of article 33 of the constitution.The president is empowered to make a statement of government policy at the commencement of each new session. In the past, it was known as the Throne Speech which was delivered by the Governor-General.

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