Sri Lanka president accepts bribery chief’s resignation

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena informed his cabinet on Tuesday that he decided to accept the bribery commission director general’s resignation after he questioned her integrity.

Maithripala Sirisena is due to make a fresh appointment shortly.

During Tuesday’s closed-door cabinet meeting, Sirisena sought to explain his frustration with the bribery commission headed by Dilrukshi Wickramasinghe, the FCID and the CID.

The President was particularly miffed that there were 15 rookie police investigators invited to watch senior minister A. H. M. Fowzie being questioned by the bribery commission.

The president has vehemently denied that he was trying to protect former defence secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa who was summoned to court last month to answer allegations that he defrauded the state of Rs11,400 million.

Sirisena told his cabinet that in his outburst on Wednesday, he had only spoken about the "indignity" allegedly suffered by three ex-navy admirals who were charged along with Gotabhaya Rajapaksa.

Contrary to popular belief, Sirisena has insisted that his problem with the government of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was the failure of the administration to well and truly nail Gotabhaya for all his alleged sins.

Dilrukshi Wickamasinghe’s resignation has helped both sides to save face and move on, and salvage the unity government, sources close to both sides said on Tuesday.

Related:Sri Lanka heads for uneasy new political trajectory

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, who is currently in Belgium, is known to be following developments at home closely.

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However, the release by his office of a picture of him tasting gourmet chocolates in Brussels while a dangerous row raged in Colombo was seen as in poor taste.

Enjoying the sweet treats with the Prime Minister was Law and Order minister Sagala Ratnayake whose actions are being questioned after President Sirisena’s highly publicised public outburst against the police.

Speaker Karu Jayasuriya, who is also the Chairman of the Constitutional Council, which appoints chairmen and members of independent commissions established in line with the 19th amendment to the constitution, has tried to defuse tensions by glossing over the main issues.

"Several chairmen and members questioned if higher echelons of government had any concerns about the work," the Speaker said in a statement issued on Monday

Bribery commission DG Wickramasinghe became the first member of an independent body to resign in protest over interference by the executive into the work of the anti-graft commission, whose independence is guaranteed by the constitution.

The Speaker did not refer to Wickramasinghe’s resignation, but said there was no disagreement between Sirisena and Wickremesinghe over the functioning of the independent bodies.

Jayasuriya urged all independent bodies to continue their work, saying the people had high hopes that the institutions will deliver results.(COLOMBO, Oct 18, 2016)

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