Joint opposition slams Govt. for reducing MR’s security

Thursday, 7 April 2016 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

art.mahinda.rajapaksaBy Ashwin Hemmathagama – Our Lobby Correspondent

The Joint Opposition yesterday charged the Government with “plotting to reduce” the security detail of former President MP Mahinda Rajapaksa with effect from 10th April.

Revealing the possibility of a change in security arrangements, MP Dinesh Gunwardena informed the Parliament under Section 23 -2 of the Standing Orders the plan to replace the 106 army commandos currently on duty, with the Ministerial Security Division of the Police Department, who were seen as “unfit to protect Mahinda Rajapaksa” and “inferior in training” for the specific task. 

Demanding the government to provide reasons for such decision, which will put the former President’s “life at stake” MP Gunawardena said: “After defeating terrorism and uniting the country he deserves special protection. You have removed 50 commandos as the first step and remainder will be taken off by 10thApril. These soldiers are well trained to provide protection for VIPs. While in office he enjoyed protection provided by 22 officers and a considerable number of soldiers. But this has been reduced to 12 officers and 90 soldiers with effect from 8th January 2015. Now you are removing it in full. These army personnel were trained in India by the Black Cats to provide special protection. You should not underestimate the life threats he has. A suicide kit was located last week from Chawakachcheri. We demand that you increase his security and stop removing the commando protection provided.” Rejecting any plan to reduce protection provided to former President MP Rajapaksa or to remove the army commandos, the  Minister of Higher Education and Highways and the Leader of the House of Parliament Lakshman Kiriella said: “We too want to protect his life. Even at this moment he enjoys 103 army personnel along with another 103 from the police. We haven’t removed any of his security detail. It is you who jeopardise his security by telling the world about some hypothetical security lapse. But former army commander Sarath Fonseka was deprived from security soon after the Presidential election. Do you remember what happened to General Janaka Perera?On the following day after you removed his security the terrorists assassinated him. When I checked this morning there were no plans to reduce security of MP Mahinda Rajapaksa.”

Joining the heated argument why the former President should be allowed to continue with increased protection, Minister of Regional Development Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka said: “During the war, the former President obtained an order from the Supreme Court to reduce the security of former Presidents’ to 30 personnel. But at the time of execution this order I objected at the security council and allowed the former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga to continue with the 60 security personnel already assigned to her.”

“As far as I know the incumbent President as well as the Prime Minister has police officers in the security division. Soon after the results of the Presidential election 2010 was released the security officers dropped me off at home and left me exposed. When I was sentenced to prison I didn’t have any security. I was in the same prison with the LTTE terrorists. The number of security personnel assigned for VIP protection depends on the prevailing security condition in the country,” clarified the Field Marshal.

Life of MR endangered, claims wimal

​By Chamodi Gunawardana

The Joint Opposition yesterday charged the Government has endangered the life of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa by changing his military security and replacing it with Police. 

Speaking at a media briefing MP Wimal Weerawansa charged that the decisionto replace military security with Police has resulted in the inclusion of a Private Security Officer who had allegedly previously worked under Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka.

“We believe Police security is notenough for the former President who was the main target of terrorists. Rajapaksa should have more security because his life is at risk. The Government must remain committed to protecting him because he defeated the LTTE,” he said.

According to Weerawansa, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has agreed to reconsider the decision made to remove military personnel from Rajapaksa’s security when Rajapaksa and Joint Opposition MP Dinesh Gunawardena met him todiscuss the matter on Tuesday.

Weerawansa also alleged the Government was not paying sufficient attention to protect national security. “We have accumulated information that State Intelligence personnel have warned the Government about the reformation of the LTTE, but the Government has ignored them,” he charged. However, Petroleum Resources Development Minister ChandimaWeerakkodyon Wednesday insistedthe Government remained committed to national security. 

Addressing the weekly media briefing at the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) headquarters, Weerakkody further said the SLFPwould never allow anyone to put Rajapaksa’s life at risk. He said SLFPerswould always attempt to protect Rajapaksa as he remained a senior adviser of the party. 

State Finance Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena added some groups had tried to take advantageby spreading false information about the discovered explosives and attempted to mislead the public.

“Several politicians used the Chavakachcheri incident as a ‘hot topic’ to sling mud at the Government and some media institutions gave huge publicity for it. However it was not the only one that has happened from 2009 to present,” he noted. 

Highlighting the figures of recovered LTTE weaponsfrom the Northern and Eastern Provinces during the post-war period, Abeywardena stressed 313 suicide jackets have been found. He added 226,716 bombs, 4,621,366 bullets, 73 cyanide capsules, 8,937 weapons and 177,025 kgs of explosives have been recovered from 2009 till now. 

Abeywardena asserted these discoveries did not result in major publicity as the Chavakachcheri incident.