Sri Lanka president revives defence establishment

ECONOMYNEXT – President Maithripala Sirisena Tuesday confirmed Kapila Waidyaratne, 60,  as the country’s new defence secretary replacing controversial Karunasena Hettiarachchi who was eased out amid serious questions over his conduct.

The just retired Senior Additional Solicitor General Waidyaratne takes over the defence ministry at a time when Sri Lanka is under international scrutiny over its pledges to investigate war-time atrocities.

President Sirisena also made two other key appointments to his own secretariat and the army in a bid to bolster his reconciliation efforts, officials said.

The President’s Secretary, P. B. Abeykoon, who resigned last week was replaced by long-time Sirisena ally, Austin Fernando, 75, who now will head the country’s civil service as Sirisena’s topmost aide.

“Veteran administrator Austin Fernando assumed duties as President’s Secretary a while ago. He will add great strength to our public service,” the President said on twitter.

The number two officer in the army, Mahesh Senanayake, was elevated as the new commander while retaining his predecessor Krishantha de Silva as the Chief of Defence Staff.

All three appointments are seen as bolstering the new government’s reconciliation efforts.

Fernando has been a commissioner general of rehabilitation and associated with Sri Lanka’s peace efforts between 2002 and 2004. Lt Gen Senanayake has led the military’s hand over of occupied civilian land back to their owners in the past two years.

Waidyaratne had been a UN war crimes prosecutor for three years till February 2003.

His father, Norman Waidyaratne was a UNP member of parliament from Balapitiya and was the deputy speaker from September 1978 to December 1988.





(COLOMBO, July 4, 2017)


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