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Former MPs question the deployment of the Army around Parliament

ECONOMYNEXT – Two former Members of Parliament have written to the Secretary-General of Parliament questioning why the Armed Forces have been deployed to guard the Parliamentary complex in Kotte.

Former State Minister Eran Wickremeratne in a letter to Secretary-General Dhammika Dissanayake says he and his colleague Dr Harsha De Silva “visited Parliament at 3.00 p.m. today  (Saturday, April 25) to discuss with you, a matter of concern that had arisen since last night, about the security of the Parliamentary Complex.”

He says that as Dissanayake was “not present, we met with Mr Kushan Jayarathna, the Deputy Serjeant-at-Arms in Parliament.”

Wickremeratne said he observed “that a significantly higher number of armed forces personnel were present in addition to Police personnel, who normally provide security.  Jayarathna mentioned that you had insisted that the security of Parliament should be as usual. However, on observing otherwise, and on inquiry, we were told that the perimeter of the Parliament complex was being guarded by the armed forces.”

The former MP asked what necessitated such security changes. “What was the threat assessment? Was there a terrorist threat? We have not received any indication of a threat that necessitated a change of usual security arrangements” he said.

“It is the responsibility of all citizens and especially those paid out of the public purse to maintain peace and safeguard the separation of powers between the three organs of government i.e. the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary, which are the essential components of constitutional democracy,” he wrote.

Sri Lanka has had a long tradition of safeguarding freedoms and protecting all three organs of government. We must ensure that no ONE organ of government is permitted to encroach into the preserve of any other organ of government he pointed out. (Colombo, April 26, 2020)