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Sri Lanka: Sajith Premadasa vows to protect Army chief Shavendra Silva


Press Trust of India  |  Colombo 

The presidential candidate of Sri Lanka's ruling party, Sajith Premadasa, on Sunday vowed to protect the country's Army Commander Lt Gen Shavendra Silva amid allegations of wars crimes committed under his charge.

Speaking at a campaign rally in rural Nivithigala in the country's Southwest, Premadasa said, "No matter what pressures, I will protect Shavendra Silva and he will continue as the Army Commander."

Silva was named by the UN Human Rights Council for his responsibility in alleged war crimes committed during the final phase of the military conflict with the LTTE which ended in 2009.

Silva, who headed the Army's 58th division, was accused of shelling hospitals, stopping humanitarian assistance and killing surrendered persons in the final days of the war. The Sri Lankan Army has officially denied committing war crimes.

Silva was appointed Army Commander in August this year by president Maithripala Sirisena, despite opposition from international rights groups.

The US government and the European Union have officially protested against Silva's appointment as Army chief.

The issue of national security has become a major issue ahead of the November 16 presidential election.

Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, the main opposition candidate and brother of former president Mahinda Rajapaksa, has accused the incumbent government of neglecting national security.

Rajapaksa said the government's lack of attention to security had resulted in the Easter Sunday bombings in which nearly 260 were killed and 500 were injured in Colombo.

Premadasa has assured that he would place national security under former Army chief Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka, who headed the Army in the campaign to crush the LTTE's separatist campaign in the country's Northeast.

Gotabhaya, then as a top defence ministry official, and Fonseka had worked closely during the war against the LTTE.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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First Published: Sun, October 27 2019. 22:40 IST