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Pujith: Sirisena interfered with police transfers

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

Former President Maithripala Sirisena had interfered with transferring of senior police officers from 2018 although an independent Police Commission was established, through the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, former IGP Pujith Jayasundara yesterday informed Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) investigating the Easter Sunday attacks.

Jayasundara said that towards the latter part of the previous government, there had been confusion in many spheres, and that had prevented them from taking key decisions on national security.

The ex-IGP said that he had been asked not to attend the National Security Council (NSC) meetings in October 2018 and that led to serious issues.

“I was aware that an NSC meeting was to be held on October 23, 2018. Usually, I was informed of such events or on the same morning. I didn’t get a call and I called former Defence Secretary Kapila Waidyaratne to ask whether there was an NSC meeting scheduled for that day. He said President Sirisena had asked him not to invite me. That was very upsetting,”

Jayasundara said he had been invited to the NSC meeting on November 03, 2018 and on that day Sirisena had asked him to transfer former CID Inspector Nishantha Silva because he was handling a case against then Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Ravindra Wijegunaratne and some Army officers.

President Sirisena had asked him to transfer Silva from the CID, but realising that it would lead to an uproar, he had attempted to dissuade Sirisena. He said he had informed Sirisena that former IP Nishantha Silva had faced no prior disciplinary action.

“The President agreed but he didn’t change his mind. Then, he left the country and a few days later former Defence Secretary Hemasiri Fernando called me and said that President Sirisena wanted me remove former IP Nishantha Silva immediately. I then transferred Silva to the Negombo Police station. I also submitted a report to the Police Commission informing that the decision had been at an NSC meeting.”

Jayasundara said Sirisena had asked him after returning from overseas who had ordered the transfer of IP Silva to the Negombo police station. He said he had told the President: “Sir, it was you who instructed me. He got very annoyed and said he had never such an order and disconnected the line.”

The Commissioners asked Jayasundara whether his absence from the NSC had had any impact on national security. Jayasundara said he had not been informed of what transpired at the NSC and that the fact that another senior officer of the Police was invited to the NSC had upset him.

Jayasundara said that the conflict between President Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had become a serious concern and that when both of them gave contradictory orders, he had chosen to follow presidential directives.



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President Ranil Wickremasinghe calls upon chief prelates of Asgiriya and Malwatta chapters

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(pic courtsey Divaina)

President Ranil Wickremasinghe called upon the chief prelates of the Asgiriya and Malwatta chapters on Thursday (02) morning to seek their blessings ahead of the 75th Independence day celebrations.

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US secures deal on bases to complete arc around China

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US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin (R) was in the Philippines to finalise the deal (picture BBC)

BBC reported that the United States has secured access to four additional military bases in the Philippines – a key bit of real estate which would offer a front seat to monitor the Chinese in the South China Sea and around Taiwan.

With this deal, Washington has stitched the gap in the arc of US alliances stretching from South Korea and Japan in the north to Australia in the south.

The missing link had been the Philippines, which borders two of the biggest potential flashpoints, Taiwan and the South China Sea, or the West Philippine Sea as Manila insists on calling it.

The US already had limited access to five sites under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) – the new additions and expanded access, according to a statement from Washington, will “allow more rapid support for humanitarian and climate-related disasters in the Philippines, and respond to other shared challenges”, likely a veiled reference to countering China in the region.

The statement came after Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin met Philippine President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr in Manila on Thursday.

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Nuland accuses China of failing to help SL with ‘credible and specific assurances’ acceptable to IMF

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Nuland addressing the media in Colombo (pic by Thushara Atapattu)

US hopes LG polls will be held in March

By Saman Indrajith

US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Victoria Nuland, yesterday said China had not provided credible and specific assurances to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for Sri Lanka to overcome the current economic crisis.

Addressing the media in Colombo, Nuland said: “What China has offered so far is not enough. We need to see credible and specific assurances that they will meet the IMF standard of debt relief. We, the United States, are prepared to do our part. Our Paris Club partners are prepared to do their part. India has made strong commitments that it will provide the credible assurances the IMF is looking for.”

Nuland said that India and the Paris Club had given strong assurances to the IMF to help Sri Lanka to obtain a $2.9 billion bailout.

“We want to see an IMF program as quickly as possible. That is what Sri Lanka deserves; that is what Sri Lanka needs,” Nuland said.

Nuland said the US would give Sri Lanka an additional USD 30 million to provide 96,000 schoolchildren with food.

She said Sri Lankans had taken to the streets, last year, demanding cleaner, accountable and inclusive governance, with transparency, and the government was expected to hold the elections to enable people to enjoy their democratic rights.

Nuland said that the US was glad to see that consultation between the government and other parties towards reconciliation had commenced. She said that she had met with members of the Tamil political parties, earlier yesterday. “We hope that the dialogue will continue to achieve real results such as return of the lands to their rightful owners.”

Nuland said that the US hoped that local elections would be held in March, the dialogue commenced for reconciliation would continue, and the Prevention of Terrorism Act would be reformed to meet international standards.

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