President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has summarily removed all Sri Lanka Navy personnel from all presidential security duties after more than 200 sailors tested positive for the coronavirus because of his own Government’s failure to protect frontline workers and test them regularly.
Heightened fears about the risk of President Rajapaksa contracting the virus have caused repeated testing cycles for his security personnel and senior staff.
These repeated testing have drive up testing numbers, but sources told Colombo Telegraph that in fact, even people in quarantine centers were only being tested after their symptoms subside in order to keep positive numbers as low as possible.
The decision to kick the Navy off the presidential security contingent marks another significant break for President Gotabaya Rajapaksa from his brother’s rule as Colombo Telegraph learns tensions between the siblings continue to simmer.
Naval personnel have been a vital component of presidential security since President Mahinda Rajapaksa took office. While the commando and STF units were deployed to provide the close security for the Rajapaksas, it was the Navy that was always trusted with the more intimate services. Cooks, drivers and physical trainers were often drawn from the Sri Lanka Navy. The proximity of Naval HQ to President’s House and the 2005-2015 Rajapaksa Government’s concerns about then Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka’s political allegiances caused the ruling family to show a distinct preference for security more sensitive services provided by the Navy. At the time, Fonseka’s arch enemy within the military structure, Wasantha Karannagoda was in charge of the Sri Lanka Navy. Karannagoda is also believed to be distantly related to the Rajapaksa family. Former First Lady Shiranthi Rajapaksa also had a close affinity to the Navy with her father being a former officer. (by Chamika Madiwake)