Month before NPC polls, SL President clips Gotabaya's wings
By P K Balachandran | Published: 24th August 2013 10:36 AM |
Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa has established a new Ministry of Law and Order, bifurcating the Defence Ministry, which has been in-charge of the police as well as the three armed forces, according to reports in the local media. Even though an official statement establishing such a ministry was yet to come, political sources told Express on Friday that the new measure was tantamount to clipping the wings of the powerful Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
It also meant that one of the key demands of the Tamil minority, which was that the army should withdraw from Law and Order duties and hand them over to the civilian police, had been accepted, the sources said.
Acceptance of the demand for de-militarisation of civilian functions is expected to help the ruling United Peoples’ Freedom Alliance (UPFA) in the September elections to the Provincial Council in the Tamil-speaking Northern Province, a pro-government source said.
A section of the media quoted the Secretary to the President, Lalith Weeratunga, as saying that the measure was in consonance with the recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC).
The Secretary to the new Ministry of Law and Order would be Retired Maj Gen Nanda Mallawarachchi, who is currently Lanka’s Ambassador to Indonesia. The Minister would be the President himself.
Earlier this month, in the Sinhalese-speaking South Lanka also there had been bitter complaints about the use of the army to quell a civil disorder in Weliweriya in Gampaha district near Colombo. People agitating against a polluted water table were shot at by the army’s 58 Division killing three youth.