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Don’t enter politics after retirement Army Chief’s plea to top officers
Published Date: 05/12/2017 (Tuesday)

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Army Chief Lt. Gen. Mahesh Senanayake has strongly advised officers against entering politics after their retirement.

Lt. Gen. Senanayake said so at Security Forces headquarters, Kilinochchi last Thursday (Nov 30) in his first field visit to former LTTE stronghold since assuming the command of the war winning army in July this year.

Security Forces Commander, Kilinochchi, Maj. Gen. Ajith Kariyakarawana was among over 150 officers and 1,200 other ranks present on the occasion.

Lt. Gen. Senanayake said that Army officers shouldn’t forget the war and ‘incidents’ and not get involved in politics under any circumstances following their retirement.

The army under the then Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka’s command brought the war to a successful conclusion in May 2009.

Recently, the Army Chief earned the wrath of Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka for being critical of the latter’s comments against his successor Gen. Jagath Jayasuriya.

 Fonseka, who holds regional development portfolio in the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government publicly backed international calls for investigations into Gen. Jayasuriya’s conduct both during the war and thereafter. Wartime Security Forces Commander, Vavuniya, Jayasuriya served as the Army Commander till 2013 August after having succeeded Fonseka in July 2009.

Addressing Kilinochchi-based Army, Lt. Gen. Senanayake emphasized the pivotal importance of maintaining discipline at all levels.

 

Northern Province Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran has repeatedly demanded the withdrawal of the army from the Northern Province. The retired Supreme Court Justice has alleged the heavy military presence is detrimental to post-war national reconciliation, an assertion publicly contradicted by Lt. Gen. Senanayake.

Subsequently, Lt. Gen. Senanayake visited Hasalaka Gamini war memorial put up at Elephant Pass during the previous administration in honour of a soldier who had carried out a suicide attack on an improvised LTTE armour plated vehicle during 1991 abortive siege of the strategic causeway by the LTTE. The Army thwarted the LTTE attack.

The army lost Elephant Pass nine years later. The LTTE held Elephant Pass till late Dec/January 2009.

Lt. Gen. Senanayake has also opened a newly built accommodation complex for all rankers at Elephant Pass.

 

Later, the Army Chief visited Pooneryn headquartered 66 Division, where he was received by Maj. Gen. Duminda Keppetiwalana. On the latter’s invitation, Lt. Gen. Senanayake opened the main dressing station of the division.

Troops assigned for Security Forces headquarters, Kilinochchi are deployed both east and west of the Kandy Jaffna road.

The following day, Dec 1, the Army Chief visited Security Forces headquarters, Mullaitivu, where he was received by Maj. Gen. Dushyantha Rajaguru. The 14 and 23 battalions of the Sinha Regiment accorded the Army Chief guard of honour before he addressed the officers and men. The top soldier repeated at Mullaitivu what he told the Kilinochchi-based Army.

Three Divisions, namely 59, 64 and 68 headquartered at Nanthikadal, Oddusudan and Kombavil, respectively, are deployed in the Mullaitivu sector. In addition to them, there are support units.

Having concluded visits to bases in the Vanni, Lt. Gen. Senanayake told The Island that no one should pursue an agenda that could jeopardise post-war stability of the country. "We have eradicated terrorism at a huge cost. Therefore, officers and men, both in uniform as well as retirees should be mindful of their responsibility towards the organization."

Lt. Gen. Senanayake said that he had served the Army for 37 years out of its 68-year existence.

Source: The Island

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