PM urged not to withdraw MR’s elite commandos

Mahinda Rajapaksa with Ranil Wickremasinghe

Claiming continuing LTTE threats to his life, former President and Kurunegala District MP Mahinda Rajapaksa has appealed to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to rescind a government decision to withdraw a contingent of army commandos assigned for his security.

Former President met Premier Wickremesinghe at the latter’s office in parliament on Tuesday (April 5).

National Freedom Front (NFF) leader Wimal Weerawansa, MP yesterday explained the circumstances under which the former President had made representations to Premier Wickremesinghe as regards the threats faced by him.

MP Weerawansa was responding to a query at the weekly Joint Opposition briefing at Dr N. M. Perera Centre, Borella. Premier Wickremesinghe had assured the former President that he would look into the matter, Weerawansa said.
The government intended to replace the entire Commando contingent, Weerawansa said.

Former External Affairs Minister Prof. G. L. Peiris comparing wartime Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa’s response to post-conflict security threats with that of incumbent Defence Secretary Karunasena Hettiarachchi castigated the latter for absolving himself of responsibility as regards the recent detection of explosive cache at Chavakachcheri.

Referring to recent high profile terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels, Prof. Peiris underscored the danger in underestimating the threat posed by the LTTE, especially in the wake of Chavakachcheri lethal haul find. No less a person than Reginald Cooray, Governor of the Northern Province had publicly acknowledged that the recovered explosives were certainly meant for destructive purpose.

However, Defence Secretary Hettiarachchi had expressed a view contrary to that of Governor Cooray, Prof. Peiris noted. Northern Provincial Council member M.K. Sivajilingham had very confidentially cleared the LTTE of the Chavakachcheri explosives, Prof Peiris said, urging authorities to verify that statement. Prof. Peiris emphasized the urgent need to question the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) member.

The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) last Saturday questioned Prof. Peiris regarding a statement he made pertaining to Chavakachcheri detection.

Asserting that Chavakachcheri detection hadn’t been an isolated incident, Prof. Peiris called for a thorough investigation to identify growing threats to national security.

Prof. Peiris said that shocking move to replace the former President’s security contingent provided by the Army with Ministerial Security Division (MSD) personnel should be examined against the backdrop of possible re-emergence of the LTTE.

The LTTE lost its conventional military capability in May 2009.

Weerawansa claimed that intelligence services had warned the government on the possibility of the LTTE rump resuming operations. The NFF leader lambasted the government for endangering the former President’s life by sharply reducing his security. Could those who had been saved by the former President’s fearless leadership turn a blind eye to despicable efforts to expose him to danger, the MP asked.

Weerawansa alleged that the LTTE would take advantage of the opportunity. The MSD couldn’t match the expertise of Army Commandos, he said, alleging that among those MSD personnel who had been assigned for the former President’s security was one-time bodyguard of Democratic Party Leader, Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka.

MP Weerawansa expressed serious concern over a person who had been with Fonseka joining the former President’s security contingent. “The former President’s life is at stake. Whatever the political differences are, the former Commander-in-Chief’s safety and security cannot be jeopardised under any circumstances.”

The NFF leader declared that the government could not be allowed to undermine the former President’s security under any circumstances. Colombo District MP Weerawansa said that even those who had exercised their franchise in support of Maithripala Sirisena couldn’t deprive the former President of much deserved credit for defeating the LTTE.

Both Prof. Peiris and MP Weerawansa asserted that the former President faced a severe threat to his life.

They emphasized that there couldn’t be any compromise regarding the deployment of the Army for his protection. Prof. Peiris pointed out that the Army had been responsible for Rajapaksas’s security even before he became President in Nov 2005.

MP Weerawansa said that the Jt. Opposition would strongly campaign against what he called the government’s unfair move.

LSSP leader Prof. Tissa Vitharana alleged that the move against the former President had the backing of Western powers. The former minister explained on-going US intervention in Sri Lanka to highlight the danger experienced by key nationalist elements.

(Courtesy: The Island – By Shamindra Ferdinando)