New Delhi, May 31 (The Hindu/newsin.asia): Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena said here on Friday that the Presidential election has been scheduled for December 7, 2019, but he has not made up his mind about contesting it.
“None of the political parties have selected candidates. I am not in a hurry to make up my mind,” he told the media on the sidelines of a meeting of BIMSTEC nations at Hyderabad House.
The statement that the Presidential election is going to be held as scheduled on December 7 is significant since Dayasiri Jayasekara, the General Secretary of his party Sri Lanka Freedom Party, has been saying that the President is seeking legal opinion on extending his term till June 2020 on the basis of a particular interpretation of the constitution.
The opposition Sri Lanka Podujna Peramuna (SLPP) has threatened to go to court on the ruse to extend Sirisena’s term and postpone the election.
Attackers Didn’t Visit India
About the Easter Sunday attacks by radical Islamic suicide bombers which led to the death of over 250 people, President Sirisena said that Sri Lanka has not received any reports of the attackers visiting India.
Earlier, the Lankan Army chief Lt.Gen.Mahesh Senanayake had said that some of the attackers had visited Bengaluru, Kerala and Kashmir, “either to get funds or establish links”.
Continuing about the terrorist attack, Sirisena said: “It seems an international outfit supported them (the attackers and their accomplices). They travelled to countries abroad. Most of the people in the group, including the suicide bombers, were wealthy people…. they are young men and professionals. A few had doctorates. It is possible that they collected money for the activities from within the country.”
Indian Alerts Not Shared With Him
The President reiterated his charge that he was kept in the dark about intelligence reports on an impending attack. India had warned Sri Lanka about the attacks three times.
“I was in Singapore at the time of the attacks. A clear report had been sent by Indian intelligence agencies on April 4 to Sri Lanka. Correspondence had taken place between defense chiefs. However, from April 4 to 16, the day I left to Singapore, none of the chiefs informed me about this. I would have not left country had I known it. I removed the defense secretary and police chief because of this grave shortcoming,” Sirisena said.
On the ongoing investigations, the President said: “ We have received support of intelligence organizations of friendly countries – India, US and UK came to help us. Foreign policy of Sri Lanka relies on neutrality – we prefer mediation in resolving differences.”
Attacks on Muslims
On the attacks on Muslims following the blasts, Sirisena said: “We assure security for all groups in Sri Lanka. We are a vibrant democracy like India. Security and safety of all citizens will be ensured by my government, and no community will be targeted.”
He further said: “Terrorism takes many forms. In some countries there are domestic terrorists. For 30 years, Sri Lanka suffered from terrorism. We had peace for 10 years. The attacks on Sri Lanka were carried out by an Islamist group.”
“All democratic countries should join hands as terrorism hurts all countries. The objective of terrorism is to break bonds. However, in Sri Lanka the situation is under control. We have stability and peace in the country,” Sirisena said.
Tourists have started returning to the country, the President claimed.
The Lankan President said that people all over the world are congratulating Prime Minister Modi for rising to safeguard Indian democracy. Sri Lanka is looking forward to visit on June 9, Sirisena added.