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Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Sri Lanka President and Police Minster at loggerheads over appointing a IGP

In the absence of a consensus between President Ranil Wickremesinghe and Public Security Minister Tiran Alles on the selection of Senior DIG Deshabandu Tennakoon as the next Inspector General of Police (IGP) C.D.Wickramaratne was given yet another service extension of three months to serve in the post.

According to informed sources, the President is not in favor of the appointment of Thennakoon whereas the minister insisted on it.

The two had a one-on-one meeting yesterday and arrived at the conclusion to grant a service extension to C.D. Wickramaratne as a compromise solution.

It took two weeks to take a decision with regard to the IGP post after the second service extension of IGP C.D. Wickramaratne ended on June 25.

Since the IGP post fell vacant on June 25, Senior DIG (Administration) Nilantha Jayawardena was overseeing the duties of the office of the IGP. However, it was reported that delay in naming the new IGP has already caused administrative issues including issuing directives related to crime and narcotic operations.

Although President Ranil Wickremesinghe failed to recommend a name to the Constitutional Council, sources said that Minister Alles had initially recommend President to appoint Western Province Senior DIG Deshabandu Thennakoon as the new IGP despite strong concerns from both the Catholic Church and Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL).

In the wake of the race to the IGP post in March where Wickramaratne was given an extension of three months, seven Senior DIGs, some of whose names were in the line for the IGP post have been transferred.

At that time several SDIGs including Ajith Rohana had accused the Public Security Minister, alleging they were subject to malicious, unreasonable and unjustifiable transfers. Rohana alleged that the minister did all these malicious acts to harass them and to protect a particular SDIG.

According to the current seniority list, Senior DIG (Administration) Nilantha Jayawardena, Senior DIG (North Western Province) L.S.Pathinayake, Senior DIG (Western Province) Deshabandu Thennakoon and Senior DIG Ajith Rohana are among the names that are contesting for the topmost position.

However, there was strong opposition from several civil organizations, Catholic Church and the BASL against Senior DIGs Nilantha Jayawardene and Deshabandu Thennakoon as appointing one of them as IGP as they are facing certain allegations.

Thennakoon had been functioning as the Senior DIG in charge of the Western Province since 2019 and he has been accused of involvement in the mob attack that took place at Temple Trees and Galle Face on May 9, 2022. Earlier, the Attorney General also informed IGP Chandana Wickramaratne to name Thennakoon as a suspect in the case regarding the incident.

The Colombo Fort Magistrate’s Court earlier issued an order preventing Thennakoon from leaving the country over the mob attack. However, the Magistrate last week ordered to revoke the overseas travel ban imposed on Thennakoon in connection with the magisterial inquiry into the Galle Face attack.

In addition, the Presidential Commission of Inquiry probing the Easter Sunday bombings found that Senior DIG Deshabandu Thennakoon had not fulfilled his duties during the attack and recommended a disciplinary inquiry be initiated against him.

Also, SDIG Thennakoon was accused of a criminal accusation that he had allegedly aided and abetted to commit a criminal breach of trust with regard to Rs.17.8 million recovered by protestors inside the President’s House on 09 July, 2022.

It is questionable if the reason for the delay in appointing an IGP, is to clear the name of a certain senior DIG from these allegations despite that there are several other senior DIGs in the line for the post.

Sources said the President and Minster Alles had met last Thursday and held a discussion over the appointment of the next IGP.

A senior official of the President’s Office said that the President has informed the Minister to recommend the appointment of an IGP or whether C.D. Wickramaratne will be given another extension.

Sources also said that the former IGP C.D.Wickramaratne had met the Public Security Minister privately last Thursday.

In the wake of Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena’s remarks in Parliament last Friday that the President will name the new IGP within the 48 hours, sources within the President’s office and the Police Headquarters said that President decided to extend the service of C.D.Wickramratne by three more months.

Wickramaratne’s term was reportedly extended again following the concerns and criticism from the opposition that the Sri Lanka Police is functioning without an IGP for two weeks and the President is unable to find a suitable replacement for the post.

President Wickremesinghe had reportedly twice bowed to the influential BASL and Catholic Church and rejected the Public Security minister’s nominee for the new police chief when C.D.Wickramaratne’s term ended twice, in March and again in June.

Will the President follow the same path after the end of three months extension and will give another extension to Wickramaratne or can he find a suitable replacement for the post. (Darshana Sanjeewa Balasuriya)/DM



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