ECONOMYNEXT - Sri Lanka's President Maithripala Sirisena has asked the Constitutional Council to decide on the next Inspector General of Police amid intense lobbying and social media campaigning by two of the contenders.
The President has deviated from the constitutional provision requiring him to nominate a candidate and instead sent three names for the consideration of the Council on Friday evening, a source close to the process said.
The three names suggested by President Sirisena are Senior Deputy Inspectors General S. M. Wickramasinghe, Pujitha Jayasundara and Chandana Wickramaratne.
Wickramasinghe, the trusted head of former president Mahinda Rajapaksa's bodyguard, and Jayasundara, who is in charge of the Western Province, are known to lobby intensely for the top job using facebook and local media.
Both Wickramasinghe and Jayasundara have the same seniority while Wickramaratne who is just eight months junior has notched a wider scope of work in the department and is currently in charge of Southern and Sabaragamuwa provinces.
Wickramaratne, 53, is also the youngest out of the three men and could serve seven years if appointed IGP.
"The president has basically passed the ball to the Council without making a choice of his own," a source involved in the process said. "Seniority is not the only criteria and we are looking at many other aspects."
The outgoing IGP N. K. Illangakoon has scheduled a farewell press conference on Monday, but there won't be a replacement for at least a week.
The next meeting of the Constitutional Council is scheduled for April 18. “That is the earliest the Council could meet because some members are abroad at the moment,” another senior source said on Saturday.
Intense lobbying by Wickramasinghe and Jayasundara has already led to divisions with the rank and file taking sides in what has turned out like a “manapa” (preferential) vote battle at election time.
With the battle intensifying, outgoing Illangakoon weighed in saying he had never gone behind politicians asking to be given the top job in the department.
"Even when I was the second in command of the police force, holding the rank of Senior DIG Administration, I never expected to become IGP. Because of this quality, I have never been side-lined," he said two weeks ago.
In February, the president named three seniors for the post of attorney general, but the Council told him that they could only ratify a name suggested by the executive.
Eventually, the AG post did not go to the senior most officer, but a person the council felt comfortable with.
"With the IGP nomination too, we are going to see a similar situation," the source said.
(COLOMBO, April 9, 2016)