President Maithripala Sirisena will do anything in his power to stop the Parliamentary Select Committee inquiring into the Easter Sunday bombings and his recent statement at the cabinet that he has no plans to contest the 2019 presidential election may also be linked to this effort top sources close to him have told Colombo Telegraph.
On Tuesday Sirisena told the cabinet of ministers that he would not contest for a second term and would neither support former President Mahinda Rajapaksa‘s team in the election.
The whole aim of this latest announcement is to divert the attention of the Select Committee from attributing responsibility to him as Minister of Defence for failing to act on detailed intelligence that the bombings were imminent the sources added. “President Sirisena is terrified that how much he knew about the attacks before April 21st will be revealed at the committee” with various security officers scheduled to give evidence before it the sources close to Sirisena said.
The president was frantically contacting lawyers and experts to ask for opinions about how he can stop the PSC from holding the sittings. For the first time on the direction of Speaker Karu Jayasuriya a select committee has been held in the full view of the media. Sirisena was even considering proroguing parliament to dissolve the committee the sources added.
On the first day of sittings President Sirisena got his brother who is the chairman of SLT to suspend the live telecast of proceedings on PEO tv channel 91. However the Parliament website continued to broadcast the sittings. PEO TV is unlikely to telecast future PSC sittings either.
“The president seems convinced this PSC wants to pin the blame on him for the Easter Attacks. Already some testimony has gone badly for him. He seems to think he is being targeted through this committee,” the source told Colombo Telegraph. He may have thought that if he indicated to the UNP ministers that he was unlikely to be a candidate in the presidential election they will back off him and call off the Committee the source added.
Colombo Telegraph has already reported that President Sirisena was briefed 3 times in advance of the Easter attacks by SIS head SDIG Nilantha Jayawardena. The final warning was on April 21 hours before the bomb went off. Colombo Telegraph can also reveal now that President Sirisena also received documents in connection to the warnings by a senior intelligence official on April new year day. He continues to claim security officers did not inform him about the warnings.
President Sirisena is very worried that SDIG Jayawardane will have to tell the Committee the truth when he is summoned. To lie to the committee would be to commit perjury and invite the censure of parliament and possibly criminal proceedings.
The PSC will reconvene in Parliament at 11am on June 6th. The Committee has summoned ex Defence Secretary Hemasiri Fernando and suspended IGP Pujith Jayasundara to testify. Jayasundara has already filed a damning FR in Supreme Court detailing how President Sirisena promised to absolve him from blame in any inquiry report into the Easter attacks if he quietly resigned.
Between now and the PSC sittings tomorrow morning President Sirisena’s next move might be one worth watching.