Withdrawal of Army security: MR cries foul

Tuesday, 3 May 2016 00:06 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Kurunegala District Legislator and former President Mahinda Rajapaksa has cried foul over the Government’s decision to withdraw his entire contingent of military security and replace the corps with officers from the Special Task Force (STF) Ministerial Security Division (MSD), both run by the Police Department.

The former President was initially assigned a military contingent of 102 personnel, but the Government announced plans to withdraw this contingent last month.

In a statement issued hours after the decision was announced to withdraw 50 remaining military personnel assigned to former BUP_DFTDFT-2President Rajapaksa’s security detail, his Media Secretary Rohan Welivita said it was the view of security experts that the former Head of State faced threats to his life after he defeated the LTTE.

Police personnel were assigned but they were not trained in VVIP security protocols, Welivita said in his media release.

“Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa is the only living leader in the world who defeated a powerful terrorist organisation. Therefore it is the public’s opinion that Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa should be given proper military protection,” the former President’s aide said.

Welivita said the sudden removal of 50 Army personnel from the former President’s security detail has endangered Rajapaksa’s life.

“It is the duty of the Government to provide sufficient military protection to safeguard the life of Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa,” the Rajapaksa aide said.

The Government has argued that the former President was being afforded equal protection as that extended to incumbent President Maithripala Sirisena. Speaking to reporters when the plans to withdraw Rajapaksa’s military security were announced last month, Defence Secretary Karunasena Hettiarachchi explained that neither President Sirisena nor Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had military units assigned for their protection.

Secretary Hettiarachchi said that STF units trained in VIP security had replaced the Army units for all three VVIPs. (DB)