Sri Lanka President offers top security post to Fonseka

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena offered Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka a top security job in a bid to restore discipline in the country and speed up investigations into high-profile murders, it was announced on Wednesday.

Cabinet Spokesman Rajitha Senaratne said the job offer was made to Fonseka during Tuesday’s cabinet meeting, with all ministers endorsing the proposal with a view to dealing with the seemingly unending protests across the island.

"The President said he (Fonseka) can be either the army chief or the chief of defence staff, or have some new position with overall powers over security to bring about discipline in the country," Senaratne told reporters.

He said the police had failed to deal effectively with a rash of protests that disrupted the life of the community.

"We accept there is indiscipline and we also accept that the police have not been able to deal with the situation effectively,” the minister said. “The government is accused of not having a spine to deal firmly with those causing disruption."

Reporters asked the minister if the government wanted to bring back a “Gotabhaya-type” system, referring to former defence secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa who used the military to ride roughshod over city dwellers.

During the period of the former president, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa deployed troops to evict people from their modest homes at Colombo 2 and other locations, and turned over those properties to big companies, including Tata of India, to build luxury condominiums. Anti-government protests were ruthlessly crushed.  Government doctors, fearing reprisals, did not stage a single strike against the Malabe private medical college during the Rajapaksa regime.

Minister Senaratne said Fonseka indicated he was willing to step down from his cabinet portfolio of Regional Development and take up the new challenge.

However, a formal appointment was not made and Fonseka was reportedly mulling his options.

It is also proposed to make him the minister of law and order, and bring the police department under him, a move that would require accommodating incumbent Sagala Ratnayake in a different portfolio.

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There had been several complaints against the current police chief Pujith Jayasundara, according to several ministerial sources who also said that he had been put on notice by Speaker Karu Jayasuriya who is the head of the Constitutional Council, which nominated Jayasundara in April 2015. (COLOMBO, April 26, 2017)

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