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High Posts Committee split over Dayan

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  • Controversial former diplomat’s nomination as Ambassador to Russia approved despite strong opposition from TNA, JVP 


The High Posts Committee of Parliament finally ratified President Maithripala Sirisena’s nomination of Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka as ambassador to Russia yesterday, but only after pitched battles within the committee which was sharply divided over the appointment.

Three Tamil National Alliance parliamentarians and two JVP MPs strongly opposed Dr. Jayatilleka’s nomination again when the Committee met in the Parliamentary complex yesterday. His appointment was backed by the Joint Opposition and the SLFP MPs in the Committee, and most of the UNP MPs with the exception of a few.

In an unprecedented move, the High Posts Committee – a legislative oversight body mandated to sanction high-level appointments made by the Executive – deferred approving Dr. Jayatilleka’s nomination on 17 July. Following the stormy session, Speaker Karu Jayasuriya, who chairs the High Posts Committee, wrote to President Sirisena, calling on him to reconsider the appointment since the Committee had been unable to reach consensus on the nomination. The majority at the HPC were not in favour of Dr. Jayatilleka being posted as Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to Russia, the letter said. The committee had also considered the fact that 115 individuals had petitioned the High Posts Committee against Dr. Jayatilleka’s appointment, it was said.

It was the first time in the history of the High Posts Committee – known largely as a rubber stamping authority – that a President had been asked to reconsider an appointment.

The committee convened to take up the issue again on Tuesday (8), but the members demanded more time to study documents submitted to the committee about Dr. Jayatilleka’s record. The HPC was reconvened at 2.30 p.m. yesterday to deliberate on the appointment again.

The Committee grilled the ambassadorial designate to Moscow on 17 July, after 108 civil society activists, academics, researchers and grassroots organisations wrote to the HPC expressing their strong reservations about Dr. Jayatilleka’s appointment, calling him an ardent champion of the former Rajapaksa administration. 

“We note that Dr. Jayatilleka’s ideology and the ideology that shaped the January 8, 2015 movement for change are poles apart,” the civil society activists said in their representations to the High Post Committee. The petition signed by over 100 academics, activists and religious leaders, urged the committee to reject the nomination.

Dr. Jayatilleka remains a fervent admirer of former President Rajapaksa and his strongman rule. However, Daily FT learns that in recent months the former Rajapaksa era diplomat to Geneva and Paris has been building a relationship with President Sirisena.  


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