POSTED AT 07:02 AM 23-04-2019
Army Commander seeks Police powers to search and arrest
Army Commander Lt. Gen. Mahesh Senanayake said that the Army had sought powers to conduct search operations and make arrests during the Security Council meeting held under the patronage of President Maithripala Sirisena yesterday.
“Emergency should be declared at least for a short period so that the Army is given these powers to enable us to bring this situation under control,” he said.
The Commander said as the Army does not have the legal provisions to act in such a circumstance, he had requested the President to declare an Emergency for a short period and give the Army the legal provision to conduct search operations and make arrests.“The Army currently does not have the power to conduct search operations without the Police. However, under the current situation, the Army needs this authority to carry out search operations and we requested the President to grant us these powers even for a few days.
“However, as we have asked for these powers, I intend to implement these powers legally and there is no need to create unnecessary problems simply because we are given these powers,” he added.
Army Commander Senanayake said that they have identified the network that is responsible for these attacks and at the Security Council meeting they had discussed the measures needed to be taken.
“We will be investigating whether this organisation has any international links, who its members are and in what areas they are active.”
However, he said that it is evident that there has been a lapse in terms of intelligence information.
“It’s not that the Army takes blame but what was discussed was not implemented. Therefore, I believe that the President will take measures to integrate the services in the future as this is what is required for the country. Instead of depending on just one intelligence unit under this integrated system all intelligence sectors could combine their information.”
After the President’s return to the country, a special Security Council meeting was held yesterday with the participation of the President, Prime Minister, Justice Minister, Ministry Secretaries and the Tri-Forces Commanders and the IGP.
Army Commander Lt. Gen. Senanayake said that at the meeting the incidents that affected the country was discussed and measures required to prevent such attacks in the future.
Meanwhile, each of the establishments have a role to play and the respective roles of these institutions was also discussed. The Army Commander said he had notified the President that under the current legal framework existing in the country, the Army does not have the ability to act in such circumstances. “However, we have deployed our troops to maintain security and prevent a recurrence of another 1983 riot or a Digana riot. We had to use Police curfew on Sunday Night to ensure peace and security.
He called on the people to remain calm at this point and not be misled by various rumour mongers. Have faith in the Security Forces and we will ensure the safety of the people and restore normalcy in the country.
“As the Commander of the Army I would like for Emergency to be declared as only then will we get the power to act to search and arrest suspects.”
When asked if there was a connection between the Wanathawilluwa incident and these spate of bombings, the Army Commander said, definitely there is a connection between these incidents. However, he said although the Army had not been notified the Police had been informed. The issue here is that there had not been a combined action between the Police and the military.
He said as the Army does not have the power to act even if their intelligence services function efficiently, they have to hand over the information to another party and they should act. This is where the issue is.
Responding to a question raised on whether the Security Council had not been notified of such a threat the Army Commander said, “Not specifically this incident, but we have discussed the possibility of such incidents.
The military intelligence units have informed of such possibilities. This organisation is a small body but they could have international funding and training. When we look at the explosives used etc, it does not seem to be up to international standards but this needs to be investigated.
However, in order to sustain such an organisation or group, international funding is vital and as such this group too could be getting international funding or backing,” he noted.