Civil Society organizations that supported President Maithripala Sirisena’s election campaign are now in a quandary, due to the President’s preference towards certain ultra-nationalist individuals.
Purawesi Balaya at a recent meeting with the President had objected to the appointments of former Divaina Editor Gamini Sumanasekara and A B Lalith de Silva as Presidential Advisors. The President had reportedly agreed to remove them provided the Purawesi Balaya provides nominations of suitable professionals. Accordingly, the names of Dr Ranga Kalansooriya and former Daily News editor Jayatilleke de Silva had been proposed, while the movement also proposed the name Ravi Rathnaveil had been proposed by the movement for social justice of the late Sobhitha Thera.
The three nominees were summoned to the Presidential Secretariat yesterday and handed over appointment letters, but contrary to the President’s undertaking to replace the presidential advisors with those of the professionals, it was upon inspecting the appointment letters that they realised that they were appointed as Deputy Directors of the President Media Unit which already had a 83 member strong staff. The appointments of Dr Kalansooriya and Mr Jayatilleke are at much lower level considering their qualifications, a Purawesi Balaya spokesman said.
“The Secretary to the President has objected to appoint President Confidante Dharmasri Bandara Ekanayake as the Director General Media as he does not have a basic degree whereas a Ph.D holder in media has been appointed as one of 15 deputies in the unit. This is a joke,” he said. “Purawesi Balaya is to meet the President soon to clarify matters. The duo will not accept their appointments until it is cleared”, he added.