House meets for first time since Easter bombings

House meets for first time since Easter bombings

Written by Staff Writer

23 Apr, 2019 | 10:17 pm

Colombo (News 1st): Parliament convened today (April 23) for the first time since Sunday’s terror attacks. During the parliamentary session, the Speaker informed the house of the notice issued by the President, declaring a state of emergency.

Making a statement in Parliament, Speaker Karu Jayasuriya noted that all possible steps would be taken to ensure the security of members of parliament given the prevailing threat.

The next item on the agenda for today’s sitting was a special statement by the Prime Minister on the prevailing situation. However, tensions flared when the Speaker intervened to prevent MP Wimal Weerawansa from raising a point of order ahead of the Prime Minister’s statement.

The Prime Minister proceeded to make his statement in spite of the vociferous protest from the opposition benches.

Speaking at the Parliament today PM Ranil Wickremesinghe noted that in past Sri Lanka had the war, and on the ground, in addition to guerilla and traditional warfare Sri Lanka had to face suicide attacks from terrorists, these suicide attacks were being carried out by those who were supporting the war on the ground and they acted with political intentions.

The Premier noted that the current situation is very different as it is global terrorism and what they see today is beyond the ethnic terrorism of the past, this is terrorism based on religion and it is not surprising that former terrorists are shouting about this.

He noted that they can say today that the terrorism Sri Lanka is experiencing is well planned and is a long term endeavour, although it is a handful that is involved in this, they have long term plans. He added that these people have also received training, had planned several attacks and they were able to thwart some of them.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe added that a state of emergency has been declared to empower the tri-forces to detain bombers and the handlers. He said the attack was on Sri Lanka’s economy at a time when the economy was on the rise and steps have been taken to strengthen security at tourist locations and to strengthen the economy.

Meanwhile, Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa speaking in Parliament said in January 2015 he handed over a secure country to the new president, the intelligence services were strengthened to an extent where there would be no threat. However, he noted that the government is solely responsible for the Easter Sunday tragedy.

He pointed out that even though the government was informed of the attacks nothing was done to secure the nation. Individuals of the government, simply took care to ensure that they were not at any such locations that would be attacked.  He noted that if anyone is to resign for these attacks it should be the government.

Opposition leader raised questions;

“When were the national intelligence services and the security council first informed of the potential for these attacks? What steps were taken based on the intelligence received? Was the government aware that the said organisation was involved in terrorist activity? Who carried out the investigation into the discovery of 100 kilograms of explosives in Wanathawilluwa? Who were the suspects taken into custody in connection with this incident? Was this reported to the security council? If so when was this done and by whom? What steps were taken on this? How many of these suspects were produced in court and when? How many of them were released? Were any of these suspects released on a request made by any specific person? If so which person made such a request?”

Rajapaksa pointed out that the situation cannot be resolved by the Prime Minister and President sitting on different ends. He requested the government to not point fingers at any community or ethnicity because of the terrorism and noted that they will provide what support they can in taking action against these terrorists.

UNP MP Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe noted that on November 18th 2016, he said that 32 persons from 4 families in the Thowheed Jamath organisation, had been trained overseas by ISIS and were preparing for terrorist attacks in this country.

He noted that on that day, government ministers convened press conferences and said that he was lying and people like Mujibur Rahman insulted him. He said these ministers and Mujibur Rahman must be held accountable for these killings.

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