The Defence Secretary and Army Commander categorically denied claims that Sri Lanka is heading towards military rule, saying “it is not possible for the military to do so when there is a President in office.”
Defence Secretary General (Retd) Kamal Gunaratne and Army Commander General Shavendra Silva speaking to journalists in Colombo said, “Sri Lanka has a Constitution and the Security Forces operate as per the Constitution. The military has no intention of taking control. The President is the Commander-in-Chief, so why does the Army need to take control?”
The Defence Secretary also dismissed claims of military rule, and recalled an incident in the 1960s where an attempt was made to do so, but failed due to internal leaks.
“It is impossible to do something like that in Sri Lanka,” he said, while adding the Security Forces have no such intention as well.
Gunaratne, responding to questions posed by journalists, admitted that former Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa is being given safe haven at the Trincomalee Naval Base.
“We have taken former Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa to the Trincomalee Naval dockyard for his safety after the military protected Rajapaksa from thousands of violent protesters who surrounded Temple Trees in Colombo. Within the next few days, we will send him to a place of his preference, as we cannot keep him there indefinitely,” Gunaratne said.
Asked about the extent the Forces will go to protect former Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, Gunaratne said the Forces will go to any extent to safeguard the former PM and added that all other leaders and former leaders of the country will be treated the same.
“We have a very capable military in our country. We will protect the people and the country to the best of our ability,” he said.
By Gagani Weerakoon