Sirisena, Ranil in air war over Rupavahini chief

Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe

Some bureaucrats are calling it the “air wars” – the tussle between the President’s Office and the Prime Minister’s Office – over Rupavahini, the national television broadcaster.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe wants Chairman Inoka Sathyangani replaced. They now want to appoint journalist and Sri Lanka College of Journalism’s Chief Executive Officer Shan Wijetunga in her place. However, President Maithripala Sirisena has sought reasons for the removal of Ms. Sathyangani and has said that he would not make a change.

It was only last week, as the Sunday Times reported, that the Rupavahini extended an apology to the Premier’s Office after complaints that Premier Wickremesinghe was not shown adequately in its video footage on the day of the launching of the national campaign against drugs. The event was headed by President Sirisena.

Last Tuesday, after the end of the weekly ministerial meeting, both Premier Wickremesinghe and Minister and UNP Chairman Kabir Hashim met President Sirisena over the same issue. When they went to see him in the President’s upstairs office, President Sirisena was engaged in a conversation with United National Party (UNP) deputy leader Sajith Premadasa. Thereafter, the Prime Minister and UNP Chairman raised issue with the President.
This week, President Sirisena also met all heads of state media. It has been reported to him that a revenue drop at Rupavahini was causing financial issue with difficulties in paying salaries.

Ms. Sathyangani was appointed Rupavahini Chairman when Mangala Samaraweera was the Media Minister. As President Sirisena has publicly declared, the media portfolio was removed from Minister Samaraweera after a request from Prime Minister Wickremesinghe.

(Source: Sunday Times)