Will a pro-Gota officer head the Army during elections?
President Maithripala Sirisena will be making a crucial decision in the next few hours as to whether he will keep Lt Gen Mahesh Senanayake on as the Army Commander over the coming months or whether he is going to change commanders as the elections approach.
He may have to choose between keeping Senanayake or appoint Maj General Shavendra Silva, seen as a pro-Gotabaya Rajapaksa officer.
Senanayake’s current term ends on Sunday and as the Friday ends here in Colombo there was no announcement that he was to receive an extension.
He reached retirement age in August 2017 and has been granted extensions since.
The Army Commander and the President were in Naula this morning (16 Aug) at an event where Regimental Colors were presented to the Special Forces Regiment.
In case Sirisena does not grant an extension to Senanayake there are two other Major generals in the Army who have the seniority whom the President can pick.
One is the current Chief of Staff Maj Gen Silva and the other is the Commandant of the Volunteer Corps Maj Gen Sathyapriya Liyanage.
Out of the two most reports indicate that Silva, who was seen as being very close to the former Secretary to the Ministry of Defense and Presidential Candidate Rajapaksa, has his nose in front.
Silva was appointed Chief of Staff a few months ago and received an extension of service from the President when he reached retirement age in July.
Multiple sources in the Presidential Secretariat have told RepublicNext that the President’s daughter Chathurika Sirisena has been lobbying hard for Silva to be made Army Commander.