Foreign Ministry revamp in progress with six new envoys proposed by the President
ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Foreign Service is getting an overhaul with the planned termination of the postings of heads of missions who have reached 60-years of age and the proposed appointment of a number of non-career envoys.
Traditionally envoys in overseas postings are allowed to continue until the end of their appointed term even though they reach retirement age.
According to this decision senior career diplomats Kshenuka Seneviratne, the current Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York, Sumith Nakandala Ambassador at the Hague, Asoka Girihagama in Ottawa, C A Wijeratne in Stockholm and Damayanthi Rajapaksa in Cairo will head home.
Others in the same level of seniority in the Foreign Service include Grace Asirwatham who is in Brussels as envoy to the European Union.
Meanwhile, Parliament has announced that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has sent in six names to be considered as envoys to the High Posts Committee.
They are, Retired Admiral Piyal de Silva, Milinda Moragoda, Ravinatha Aryasinha, Vishramal Sanjiv Gunesekara, Professor Kshanika Hirimburegama and Dr Palitha Kohona.
De Silva, nominated as envoy to Afghanistan, is a distinguished military officer who is the recently retired Navy Commander. He was a key figure in the separatist war as a naval strategist.
Moragoda, nominated for the very important New Delhi mission, has been in active politics for a long time. He has been with the Sri Lanka Freedom Party and the United National Party.
He has been a Cabinet Minister and was one of the principal negotiators during the 2002 Peace Talks with the LTTE.
He has since launched the Pathfinder Foundation, a think tank with close connections to Chinese academia.
Kohona, named for China, is also a retired diplomat who served in the last Rajapaksa administration in a variety of positions.
A dual citizen of Australia and Sri Lanka, Kohona had a lengthy career with the United Nations and with the Australian government.
Aryasinha named for the United States is a long-time career diplomat, the only Foreign Service officer in the list, who has served previously in Washington as Deputy Head of Mission with Ambassador Rank.
For a considerable length of time, Aryasinha was Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to Geneva before he was promoted as Secretary to the Ministry of Foreign Relations. He was replaced last month by retired Navy Rear-Admiral Jayanath Colombage.
Another name before the High Post Committee is that of Gunesekara, who has been named as Sri Lanka’s envoy to Japan. Gunesekara is a Real-Estate Agent, based in California.
Hirimburegama is an academic who was a Vice-Chancellor of the University of Colombo and the only woman Chair of the University Grants Commission. She has been named Ambassador to Paris. (Colombo, September 11, 2020) Reported by Arjuna Ranawana