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by Shamindra Ferdinando

The rebel SLPP group yesterday (10) urged the Constitutional Council (CC) to thwart a government move to grant another service extension to former IGP C. D. Wickremaratne, who retired on 26 June.

Addressing the media at the Nawala Office of Nidahasa Janatha Sabhawa, top Opposition spokesperson Prof. G. L. Peiris said that regardless of the declaration that President Ranil Wickremesinghe had granted Wickremaratne a second three-month extension on 09 July, pending the 10-member CC’s approval, the public expected the combined parliamentary-civil society group to reject the wholly unacceptable move.

The CC consists of Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena, Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, Leader of the Opposition Sajith Premadasa, Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva, MP Kabir Hashim, MP Sagara Kariyawasam, Dr. Prathap Ramanujam, Dr. (Mrs) Dilkushi Anula Wijesundere, and Dr. (Mrs.) Dinesha Samararatne. Rebel SLFP senior Nimal Siripala de Silva is President Wickremesinghe’s nominee.

The former External Affairs Minister warned that if the CC simply succumbed to political pressure, the public would lose their confidence in the vital body.

The academic asked whether the Wickremesinghe-Rajapaksa couldn’t find a one suitable senior DIG from among a dozen serving officers to succeed Wickrematratne who received his first three-month service extension in late March this year. Prof. Peiris pointed out that President Wickremesinghe, in consultation with Public Security Minister Tiran Alles, granted the second service extension two weeks after Wickremaratne retired.

The three senior most officers, now serving the Police Department are Senior DIG (Administration) Nilantha Jayawardena, Senior DIG (Central Province) L.S. Pathinayake and Senior DIG (Western Province) Deshabandu Tennakoon. The No. 02 in the Police Department always holds the post of SDIG Administration.

The other senior DIGs, according to the seniority list, are W.L.A.S. Priyantha (SDIG/Crimes and Traffic), P.P.S.M. Dharmaratne (SDIG/Sabaragamuwa), who acts as SDIG/Uva, S.C. Medawatte (SDIG/South), W.K. Jayalath (SDIG/North Western), R.L. Kodituwakku (SDIG/Support Services), M.D.R.S. Daminda (SDIG/North Central) who also acts as SDIG East, K.A. Rohana (SDIG/Police Headquarters), L.K.W.K. Silva (SDIG/Medical Services, Welfare and Field Force Headquarters) and K.P.M. Gunaratne (SDIG/North).

Of the three senior most officers, two, namely Nilantha Jayawardena and Deshabandu Tennakoon, have been named by the five-member Presidential Commission of Inquiry (P CoI) that investigated the 2019 Easter Sunday attacks. P CoI, in their final report to the Attorney General to consider criminal proceedings under any suitable provision in the Penal Code against SDIG Jayawardena, who had served as Director State Intelligence Service (SIS) at the time of the Easter carnage.

P CoI has recommended a disciplinary inquiry against SDIG Tennakoon. Tennakoon is also in the centre of legal actions and counter actions pertaining to the 09 May, 2022, violence and related incidents in the run-up to the then President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s ouster, two months later.

Prof. Peiris said that the insistence that Wickremaratne should continue for three months in the absence of a suitable replacement was nothing but an indictment of the entire department.

Wickremaratne succeeded Pujitha Jayasundera in the wake of the Yahapalana government’s failure to prevent the 2019 Easter Sunday carnage.

Prof. Peiris said that the ongoing killing spree, particularly in the Western and Southern Provinces, has underscored the urgent need to take remedial measures. The retired IGP couldn’t absolve himself of the responsibility for the pathetic law and order situation, Prof. Peiris said.

The former Minister alleged that the government was sharply divided over the security situation. The Minister said that the CC should courageously address the issue at hand or face the consequences.

The SLPP National List MP stressed that the country needed a permanent appointment. An appointment couldn’t address the challenges the country faced, the former Minister said, alleging that even after the Easter Sunday intelligence failure, blamed on the then SIS Chief Senior DIG Nilantha Jayawardena and IGP Pujitha Jayasundera, those at the helm of political leadership had failed to rectify shortcomings.

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