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With decision pending on MCC Compact, Ravinatha named Lanka’s US envoy



Ex-navy Chief and former Colombo VC among 6 named for top posts

By Shamindra Ferdinando

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s government has chosen former Foreign Secretary Ravinatha Ariyasinha to head the Sri Lanka mission in the US.

Ariyasinha, a veteran career diplomat will replace another career officer Rodney Perera, who received the appointment in June 2019. Rodney is a son of late veteran UNPer Paul Perera.

Perera was appointed in place of Prasad Kariyawasam, nearly two years after the latter was brought back to Colombo as Secretary to the Foreign Ministry.

Ariyasinha, who had been Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative in Geneva at the time the previous yahapalana administration co-sponsored an Accountability Resolution 30/1 in respect of the conflict and post-conflict period, will appear before the newly constituted Parliamentary High Post Committee (PHPC).

In the wake of Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s victory at the November 2019 presidential election, the administration brought in one-time Navy Commander Admiral Jayanath Colombage as the Foreign Secretary. Colombage replaced Ariyasinha.

The PHPC headed by Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena comprises 18 lawmakers, with the SLPP having a clear majority therein. The Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) is represented by Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka, Thalatha Atukorale and Rishad Bathiudden, leader of the All Ceylon Makkal Congress (ACMC).

JVPer Vijitha Herath represents the National People’s Power in the PHPC.

A spokesperson for the SJB told The Island that Sri Lanka proposed to change the head of the mission at a time the country was under pressure to finalize the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Compact. The lawmaker pointed out that a four-member committee headed by Prof. Lalithasiri Gunaruwan appointed by the current dispensation strongly opposed the MCC Compact in its present form.

The US also wants consensus on Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) in the wake of the previous government extending the Acquisition and Cross Servicing Agreement (ACSA). The then President Maithripala Sirisena authorized ACSA, first entered into in 2007 for a ten-year period by the Rajapaksa administration.

Office of the Secretary General of Parliament on Wednesday, Sept 9, announced Ariyasinha’s appointment coming before the PHPC soon. According to the statement, representations in respect of altogether six diplomatic postings could be made till September 23.

In addition to parliament clearinghouse’s posting to Washington, the Office of the Secretary General of Parliament announced nomination of former minister Asoka Milinda Moragoda (High Commissioner designate to India), former VC of the Colombo University Professor Kshanika Hiriburegama (Ambassador designate to France), one-time Foreign Secretary Dr. Palitha Kohona (Ambassador designate to China), US-based real estate agent Vishramal Sanjiv Gunasekera (Ambassador to Japan) and recently retired Navy Commander Piyal de Silva (Ambassador to Afghanistan).

The Office of the Secretary General of Parliament announced the decision on Moragoda amidst continuing protests against the former minister’s appointment. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa recently declared that appointments made following careful consideration wouldn’t be changed under any circumstances.



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Foreign qualified medical students protest



A group of foreign medical degree holders protested opposite the Presidential Secretariat yesterday (23) requesting that tangible measures be taken to conduct the Examination for Registration to Practice Medicine (ERPM) without further delay.

They alleged that over 1,500 students had been deprived of the opportunity to sit the examination due to the fault of the Sri Lanka Medical Council, which is now under investigation by a committee, appointed by Health Minister Pavitra Wanniarachchi.

Photo: A section of the protesting students (pic by Thushara Atapattu)

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SJB insists referendum necessary besides 2/3 majority in Parliament



Supreme Court moved against 20A

By Chitra Weerarathne

General Secretary of the Samagi Jana Balavegaya Ranjith Madduma Bandara, MP, yesterday (23) filed a petition in the Supreme Court stating that the proposed 20th Amendment (20A) to the Constitution was inconsistent with the Constitution. It requires a two-thirds majority in Parliament and approval by people at a referendum for passage, the SJV has argued.

The SJB says 20A violates people’s sovereignty and franchise enshrined in Article (3) and (4) of the Constitution.

The petitioner has argued that the provisions in clause 55 of the Bill are inconsistent with the public trust doctrine and the principle of checks and balances and would prejudicially affect public finance.

 The clause 54 of the Bill seeks to repeal Article 156 A of the Constitution, which provides constitutional recognition to the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or corruption, the petition says.

 The petition says 20A seeks to repeal the prohibition on dual citizens being elected to Parliament and to the post of President.

The power of the Auditor General to audit the state institutions has been curtailed, the petition says, arguing that it could be detrimental to the economy.

It will be detrimental to the country if the Constitutional Council is replaced by a Parliamentary Council, the SJB General Secretary’s has contended in his petition.

Clause 20 (2) of the proposed 20A has restricted the powers of the Election Commission as regards the conduct of elections, the petitioner has argued.

The 20A states that an omission by the President could no longer be challenged through a fundamental rights violation petitions in the Supreme Court, the petitioner has said, adding that the Bill seeks to further enhance the powers of the President by allowing him to unilaterally remove the Prime Minister. The President would not be accountable to Parliament, the petition says.

The 20A would repeal Article 70/ (1) of the Constitution and enable the President to dissolve Parliament even immediately after a general election, the SJB General Secretary argues.

The respondent to the petition is the Attorney General.

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Lawyer Hijaz’s foundation received funds from banned foreign outfit – CID tells court



By A.J.A.A beynayake and Kasuni Rebecca

The CID yesterday informed the Colombo Fort Magistrate Priyantha Liyanage that Save the Pearls Trust run by lawyer Hijaz Hisbullah, now in custody for allegedly aiding and abetting one of the Easter Sunday bombers, had received Rs.13 million from a banned organisation named the Caliphate of Qatar.

The CID told court that according to the bank accounts of the trust the money had been received by it during the last few years and the police had launched an investigation to ascertain whether the funds had been used for terrorist activities.

The CID told court the investigation had been launched under the Money Laundering Act and a psychologist’s opinion had been sought on the book titled “Navarasam” found in a madrasa (school teaching Islam) run by Save the Pearls Trust in Puttalam.

The Magistrate order the CID to submit to court a Sinhala translation of the book and examine whether the contents of the book promoted terrorism.

The case will be taken up again on October 7.

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