ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s defence secretary Karunasena Hettiarachchi is tipped to be replaced by an officer from the attorney general’s office shortly, official sources said Friday.
Hettiarachchi, who turns 67 on March 20, has just returned from Singapore where he had undergone heart surgery, official sources said adding that he was being eased out.
Senior Additional Solicitor General Kapila Waidyaratne, President’s Counsel, is tipped to be the new Defence Secretary.
Hettiarachchi had caused serious embarrassment to the President when he announced a military boycott of the eastern province chief minister Naseer Ahamed over a spat with a navy officer in Trincomalee. It was the first time that security forces initiated “trade union action” against the political establishment.
The then air force chief Gagan Bulathsinhala, a key ally of Hettiarachchi, was said to have been behind the boycott call. President Sirisena unceremoniously terminated Bulathsinhala last year without giving him a extension of service. His other ally, navy chief Ravindra Wijegunaratne, was also put on notice.
Hettiarachchi who jubilantly announced the boycott of the chief minister was asked to retract his comments and government spokesmen had publicly castigated him.
Since then, Hettiarachchi, who was usually found to be in good spirits, has been on shaky grounds. He developed a heart condition which required surgery in Singapore recently.
Hettiarachchi’s likely replacement, Waidyaratne, is due to retire shortly from the AG’s department. He was nominated for the post of Attorney General last year, but missed it because of a break in his service when he went to Fiji in 2014 to serve as an appeal court judge.
He has also served as a Trial Attorney at the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia from 1998 until 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, March 10, 2017)