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Shavendra appointment “sovereign decision” – MFA

Facing widespread international and domestic opprobrium at the appointment of Lt General Shavendra Silva as Army Commander the Sri Lankan government is hitting back saying the move is a “sovereign decision by a Head of State.”

The United States, the European Union and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet have expressed serious concerns about the appointment of an officer who they point out is accused of serious human rights and humanitarian law violations.

Bachelet and the EU said the appointment calls into question “the Commitments given to the Human Rights Council as recently as March 2019.”

The statement also added that it “also undermines Sri Lanka’s efforts at national reconciliation and sends a worrying message to victims and survivors of the war.”

The counter-statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said: “foreign entities trying to influence the decisions and internal administrative processes of public service promotions in Sri Lanka is unwarranted and unacceptable.”

It also added that “articulating a position of concern on this appointment by certain bilateral partners and international organizations, based on allegations, is regrettable and contrary to the principles of natural justice espoused by all responsible members of the international community.”

No government statement addressed the concerns expressed by local agencies and political leaders.

Asked what the UNP’s stance is on the President appointing Silva as the Army Commander, MP Chandima Gamage said that he cannot give the party’s stance but felt that it is “not a timely decision.”

Addressing a press conference this morning he said that he believes the “President will make it right in the coming days.”

Earlier the Tamil National Alliance described the appointment as a grave affront to the Tamil People. The Party spokesman MP M A Sumanthiran said that they were “dismayed” by the President’s actions.

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The Centre for Policy Alternatives expressed serious concern at the appointment of Silva.

It said that the organisation is “disappointed that the present Government, which committed itself to security sector reforms and accountability, has taken no action to address these concerns. Today’s appointment is in effect a repudiation of the promised reforms. It demonstrates a clear disregard for human rights norms, and will facilitate the further entrenchment of impunity in Sri Lanka,” the CPA said in a Press Release posted on their website yesterday 19 Aug.

Meanwhile, the  Johannesburg based International Truth and Justice Project (ITJP) condemned the appointment of Lt Gen Silva as the Commander saying the government of Sri Lanka has betrayed its people by making this move.

The IJTP in a press release yesterday 19 Aug said the Sri Lankan President’s “decision to appoint a notorious alleged war criminal, Major General Shavendra Silva, as Commander of the Army is immensely damaging to the country and marks the end of any reconciliation process, given the allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity against him.”

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