Tuesday July 23, 2019
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Sri Lanka president vetoes military deal with the US

Jul 07, 2019 05:58 AM GMT+0530 | 2 Comment(s)

AFP - Maithripala Sirisena said he was opposed to the draft Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) that the two countries are negotiating to further strengthen their military ties.

Sirisena is at loggerheads with his pro-Western Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

"I will not allow any agreement that undermines our independence and sovereignty," Sirisena told a public rally in the island's south. "Several agreements currently being discussed are detrimental to our country."

"I will not allow the SOFA that seeks to betray the nation. Some foreign forces want to make Sri Lanka one of their bases. I will not allow them to come into the country and challenge our sovereignty."

The SOFA seeks to ensure reciprocal access to port facilities and allow freer entry to military personnel and their contractors.

Sirisena said there will be no bilateral agreements "against Sri Lanka's national interest" as long as he was in office. His term ends in January.

He did not name the powers he accused of trying to gain a military foothold in his Indian Ocean island republic of 21 million people.

However, it was a thinly veiled reference to the US which is keen on strengthening their existing military cooperation.

A year ago, Washington announced it was granting $39 million to boost maritime security in Sri Lanka as China developed its strategic hold on the Indian Ocean island.

Increased US interest in Sri Lanka comes as China is upping investment in ports and other building projects on the island, which is a key link in Beijing's ambitious "Belt and Road" infrastructure initiative.

The US had stopped arms sales to Sri Lanka during the height of the island's Tamil separatist war that ended in 2009. The global power has also been highly critical of the human rights record of the former government of strongman president, Mahinda Rajapakse.

Several senior military commanders from the Rajapakse regime have been denied visas to visit the US.

China has vowed to keep providing financial help, including loans, to Sri Lanka despite warnings about the island nation's mounting debt.

Sri Lanka in 2017 granted a 99-year lease on a strategic port to Beijing because of it could not repay Chinese loans for the $1.4 billion project.

The port in Hambantota straddles the world's busiest east-west shipping route and also gives a strategic foothold to China in a region long dominated by India.


 

2 Comments

  1. sacre blieu July 08, 08:34 AM

    Th president has more than stopped a conniving military deal and the clandestine agreement that would parcel out a large tract of land to a foreign government with unrestricted rights and liberties. He has ensured, hopefully, that our country, with what is left of it, remains a sovereign state and belongs to the people of this country.

  2. sacre blieu July 07, 08:39 AM

    This amounts to betrayal of the citizens of a nation and their sovereign rights and treason on the part of the proposers. Worse is that the way it has been represented amounts to utter deceit and deception, with the main actors running with the fox and hunting with the hound. What the politicians have done to the country is to nurture and farm fraudsters and criminality leading to the putrefying of the social fabric. It is well known that many have built their assets abroad through illicit ways in tax havens abroad. Why did we have to go to Seychelles and open a branch of a state bank, when any private bank would have jumped at the opportunity if the opportunities were rewarding. We have, today, very capable and qualified people of great talent who can meet many tasks that is given to them , even the services to, both, local and foreign engagements. What kind of asses have been created and encouraged.

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