Acting Army commander takes over

[TamilNet, Saturday, 08 July 2006, 21:49 GMT]
Major General Nanda Mallawaratchchi has been appointed as acting Commander of the Sri Lanka Army (SLA), taking over the responsibilities of Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka, who was seriously wounded by suicide bomber on April 24, the Sunday Times reported.

“Maj. Gen. Mallawaratchchi will serve in this capacity until Lt. Gen. Fonseka, now undergoing treatment in a Singapore hospital, recovers and returns to his post,” the paper reported.

A female suicide bomber struck as Lt. Gen. Fonseka’s convoy was passing where she was standing deep within Sri Lanka Army headquarters in Colombo. Eleven soldiers were killed and the General seriously wounded.

The Sri Lankan government has repeatedly stated since the blast that Lt. Gen. Fonseka was fast recovering from his wounds, despite misgivings amongst some Sri Lankans.

This weekend’s reports are set to fuel speculation that the General’s condition is worse than the government is revealing to the public.

The Sunday Times quoted reports from Singapore as saying Lt. Gen. Fonseka had undergone further surgery. No details were available.

After the female suicide bomber infiltrated Army Headquarters and attacked Lt. Gen. Fonseka, Maj. Gen. Mallawaratchchi overlooked some of the Commander's responsibilities, the Sunday Times added.

“However, he remained as chief of Staff of the Army. This was even after Lt. Gen. Fonseka was flown to Singapore for treatment. Hence, he had not been in a position to exercise some of the responsibilities vested by law in the Commander of the Army,” the paper said, without elaborating.

Maj. Gen. Mallawaratchchi’s appointment came on the orders of President Mahinda Rajapaksa who is also Minister of Defence and Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces.


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