Government kept out of the loop – Rajitha
Tensions between President Maithripala Sirisena and the Government emerged at a press conference addressed by several Cabinet Ministers in Colombo yesterday about the Easter Sunday massacre.
Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne who was the first speaker said that Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and the Cabinet had not been informed by the Police and Security Services that foreign intelligence agencies had warned Sri Lanka that there will be attacks against Christian places of worship and tourist destinations.
“If we had been told we could have taken precautions,” he said.
His Cabinet colleague John Amaratunge who is in charge of Tourism and Christian Affairs also said he had not been told, although the intelligence report stated that these two sectors had been threatened.
Senaratne obliquely attacks the President
Senaratne also obliquely criticized the President saying that when the Head of State and Minister in charge of the Police was out of the country when the attacks took place and nobody was deputizing for him.
“When a crisis like yesterday’s attacks took place there was no Minister in charge present,” he pointed out.
Senaratne also pointed out that the Prime Minister had not been invited to attend Security Council Meetings since the October crisis.
“Ranil Wickremesinghe has attended Security Council meetings since the 1980s. He is the most experienced politician on security matters in the country, but the Security Council doors have been closed to him,” he went on.
Senaratne revealed that on Sunday when the Security Council met after the attacks the Prime Minister had gone to the Ministry of Defense. “But he was not allowed into the meeting but had to wait in State Minister Ruwan Wijewardene’s office for 20 minutes,” he added.
Finally he had been allowed in and had chaired the meeting Senaratne said.
Asked why this had happened Senaratne said “they had orders from above.” He was asked to clarify that remark but refused to answer.
Eventually when President Maithripala Sirisena convened the Security Council yesterday Wickremesinghe and Ministers Arjuna Ranatunge and Thalatha Athukorala were also invited.
Curiously the picture released by the Presidential Secretariat of the meeting showed four SLFP MPs also attending the meeting which is usually closed off to most people. The MPs are Dayasiri Jayasekara, Faiszer Mustapha, Ranjith Siyambalapitiya and Thilanga Sumathipala.