Furore over SLA Commander's comments

[TamilNet, Monday, 18 May 1998, 23:59 GMT]
A comment by the Lieutenant General Rohan Des. Daluwatte, the army commander, that the devolution package drafted by the Sri Lanka Government (SLG) as a political solution to the ethnic conflict, "would offer no solution - and give rise to problems that did not exist now" has raised a furor in SLG circles, the Sunday Times said yesterday.

daluwatte_rohan.gifThe comment was made by Lt. Gen. Daluwatte during an interview with Lakbima, a Sinhala language newspaper.

The statement had agitated members of the SLG who said the army commander should not talk politics and his statement sounded supportive of the views of Sinhala hard-liners who are against the package.

The comment is close to the official position of the opposition United National Party (UNP) too.

Pressure from SLG circles, though not from Anurrudha Ratwatte, Deputy Minister of Defence, who wanted to gloss over the matter-led to the army commander contacting the Lakbima reporter to whom he had given the interview, requesting him to carry a denial.

The reporter, Priyantha Srilal, had first refused but then acceded to the request, drafted a denial, faxed it to the army commander who had made amendments and faxed it back.

This follows another media gaffe where the army commander confirmed that there was a programme to go to schools and recruit school leavers when Mangala Samaraweera, Minister of Posts and Telecommunications took great pains to assure the public that there was no such programme.

 

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