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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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Murder convicted SLPP candidate not allowed to vote

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The murder convicted SLPP Ratnapura district candidate Premalal Jayasekera, who was sentenced to death over a killing in Kahawatte during the Presidential Election in 2015, was not allowed to vote at Aug.5 general election, CaFFE Executive Director Manas Makeen said.

Although Jayasekera was sentenced to death there was speculation that he would be allowed to vote. The shooting took place on Jan 05, 2015 and caused the death of a supporter of then Opposition presidential candidate Maithripala Sirisena.

The UNP supporter, who was engaged in decorating a stage, was fatally wounded in the shooting and succumbed to his injuries in hospital on January 8.

The Pelmadulla Magistrate issued arrest warrants on the suspects involved.

Former Deputy Minister Jayasekara was arrested on January 10 that year over the election-related shooting incident while he had been released on bail on December 07, 2015.

Former Sabaragamuwa Provincial Councilor Nilantha Jayakody and former Kahawatte Pradeshiya Sabha chairman Vajira Darshana were also arrested over the shooting.

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Over 70 per cent turnout

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The overall voter turnout at yesterday’s general election was over 70%, according to election officials and monitors.

The overall turnout at the Vanni Electoral District was 74%, district returning officer S.M. Saman Bandulasena said. The Vanni Electoral District comprises of Mullaitivu (74%) Vavuniya (74%) and Mannar (76%) administrative districts

The turnout in other districts were: Galle 70%, Matale 72%, Nuwara Eliya 75%, Ratnapura 71%, Puttalam 64%, Kandy 72%, Polonnaruwa 72%, Hambantota 76%, Anuradhapura 70%, Matara 71%, Batticaloa 76%, Kalutara 70%, Trincomalee 73%, Digamadulla 72%, Kurunegala 65%, Kegalle 70%, Gampaha 68%, Colombo 70%, Badulla 74%, Jaffna 67% and Moneragala 75%.

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Mangala prepares to launch new movement

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…support for LGBTQ assured

Former Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera plans to launch a combined political-civil society campaign tomorrow against the authoritarian rule.
In a statement issued yesterday (5), Samaraweera, who quit the electoral contest after obtaining nominations from the Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) a few weeks before the polls, emphasized the need for re-commitment to democracy as the country hurled towards an autocracy with the rapid convergence of the executive, the military and the clergy; the legislature and the judiciary are being turned into mere rubber seals of the executive President.

Mangala Samaraweera

The former minister addressed lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights among other issues amidst indications the SLPP could comfortably form the next government. Samaraweera said: “The LGBTQ movement must be supported and encouraged in their struggle to do away with archaic Victorian laws governing same sex relationships between consenting adults. All human beings – irrespective of sexual orientation, gender, ethnicity, caste or religion should be treated as equal and diversity must be celebrated in all its manifestations.”

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