New Delhi: Amid rumours of political infighting in the Sri Lankan government, President Maithripala Sirisena has asserted that all is well.
In an exclusive interview to News18, his first after the ghastly Easter attacks on April 21, Sirisena has said that it was natural for many stories to surface in turbulent times such as these.
“However, there is no issue about infighting in the government. The intelligence warning was neither brought to the notice of me nor the Prime Minister. As such, this is an unfortunate lapse in the defence mechanism than a political problem. We, as a nation, stand together in a collective response,” he said.
Sirisena’s statement is significant as Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe late on Sunday said the government had information about possible attacks but that it was not shared. Wickremesinghe’s statement on how the information was not looked into led to several people questioning the relevance of such a statement after the bloody attacks.
In Sri Lanka, the police and the armed forces report directly to the President. While the country has a state minister of defence (Ruwan Wijewardene), Sirisena is the Minister of Defence according to the Constitution,. The political crisis the country faced last year as a result of a showdown between Sirisena and Wickremesinghe was being widely seen as the reason for the latter to pass such a statement.
In October last year, Sirisena had sacked Wickremesinghe and appointed Mahinda Rajapaksa as the Prime Minister. Soon after the appointment, Sirisena shut the Parliament for three weeks to keep protesters at bay.
Wickremesinghe, who declared his shocking dismissal as “illegal”, then ignored a deadline to vacate his official residence. On the other hand, Rajapaksa had called for a snap parliamentary election to allow people to vote for a new plan to overcome the country’s looming economic and political crises.