Friday, 16th April 2021

Sirisena appoints new Defence Secretary, acting IGP

Colombo, April 29 (IANS): Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena on Monday appointed former Army commander Gen. S.H.S Kottegoda as the new Defence Secretary and Deputy Inspector-General C.D Wickramaratne as the Acting Inspector General of Police (IGP).

Sirisena appointed Gen. Kottegoda following the resignation of former Defence Secretary Hemasiri Fernando last Thursday over security failures which led to Easter Sunday’s suicide bombings which killed 253 people.

Earlier in the day, the President named Wickramaratne, the second-in-command in the police force, as the acting IGP.

Sirisena last week blamed intelligence failures for the April 21 attacks in which hundreds were killed and injured and promised a major shake-up in the country’s security apparatus.

He had sought resignations from Fernando and IGP Pujith Jayasundara amid growing public outrage over the government’s failure to act on intelligence reports indicating that Islamist groups were planning to target churches in the island nation.

The Defence Secretary resigned on April 25, saying he had systematically “disseminated the intelligence information received about the attacks on the competent officials and departments” and that he had complied with his duties.

Meanwhile, Jayasundara has been sent on compulsory leave, the Daily Mirror quoted sources as saying.

The Defence Secretary occupies the third position in the chain of command of office after the country’s President, who also holds the post of Defence Minister.

Last week, Sirisena said that there were as many as 140 Islamic State suspects in the country and 70 of them had already been apprehended.

The recent bombings were the worst attacks since the Sri Lankan civil war between Tamil guerrillas and the government ended in 2009.

 

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