Avant Garde - Mahanuwara ship

The Avant Garde Armoury case has caused cracks in the Maithri–Ranil Yahapalanaya Government in a serious manner forcing President Maithripala Sirisena to summon a special meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers next Wednesday.

The situation worsened by last Thursday as storm erupted at the Cabinet Meeting with Ministers Champika Ranawaka and Rajitha Senaratne taking umbrage over Law and Order Minister Tilak Marapana’s statement in Parliament that cleared Avant Garde of all charges.

Marapana claimed that certain quarters had turned the issue into a controversy like the Millenium City case and noted that a police officer who wanted to score marks over the issue was responsible for aggravating the issue. The minister said that based on findings and reports of the Attorney General’s Department there has been no misconduct on the part of Avant Garde.

Senaratne and Ranawake standing firm on the issue even threatened to quit the government if the Avant Garde issue was not properly investigated immediately and those responsible brought to book. They stressed that it was not ethical for National List Minister Tilak Marapana to investigate the Armoury as he had appeared for former Army Major Nissanka Senathipathy in that case.

It was reported that Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe walked out of the Cabinet Meeting as the situation became tensed and the President had agreed to have a special session of the Cabinet to discuss the issue to avoid further confusion. Minister Marapana came under pressure in Parliament last week as the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) and the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) too raised questions over his statement that cleared Avant Garde.

TNA MP M.A. Sumanthiran questioned in Parliament the right Marapana had to speak when Marapana was the counsel retained by Nissanka Senathipathy of Avant Garde. Political sources alleged that Ministers Marapana, Malik Samarawickrama and Vajira Abeywardena operate together in defending Avant Garde. President Sirisena addressing a meeting in Laggala on Friday announced that a special Cabinet Meeting will be held tomorrow to discuss the Avant Garde controversy.

(Source: Ceylon Today – by Prasad Gunewardene)