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* Sri Lanka's top defense official assures to maintain military bases in North and East for national security
Sat, Nov 30, 2019, 08:20 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Nov 30, Colombo: Sri Lanka's Defense Secretary Retired Major General Kamal Gunaratne says the military camps in the North and East will not be removed disregarding national security.

Welcoming the main Tamil party, Tamil National Alliance (TNA) leader R. Sampanthan's recent statement that TNA would support the government on decisions beneficial to the country and the people, the Defense Chief said although the political parties can make various statements, the government is not prepared to give up national security.

Speaking to media in Kandy after paying homage to the Temple of the Tooth and calling on Chief Prelates of Malwathu and Asgiri Chapters on Saturday (30), Major General Gunaratne said the TNA has stated that they will support President Gotabhaya Rajapaksa.

"Under the new government, a great deal will be done for the development of the Northern and Eastern Provinces and I believe supporting the government to their best is the most appropriate step for the TNA," the Defense chief said.

"It is better if President Gotabhaya Rajapaksa receives the support of other parties than carrying out the development work alone. It is best to seek the support of other parties. Then it is much easier to fulfill the task."

He said if the regional leaders, including in the North and East, support the President, the Prime Minister and the Government, then the task of developing the country can be accelerated. "It can be viewed as an appropriate decision to provide a better life for the people most-affected during the war."

However, the Defense Secretary assured that the military camps will not be removed from the North and East.

"The government is of the view that military camps should remain as it is for national security. The security forces should be in right places to safeguard the country. Military camps will not be removed compromising national security by listening to requests from any parties."

"It doesn't hurt that there was a military camp in the area. It serves the public, not harm. During the war, even a patient from the North and East was admitted to the hospital by the soldiers in the army camps. During the war, the security forces assisted in various ways to facilitate education for the GCE Ordinary Level students in the North and East. We are ready to help children in war-affected areas in the same way," Major General Gunaratne commented.

Speaking further the Defense Secretary said there will be no discrimination based on religion or race.

"We do not have racial and religious differences. We are ready to do our best to serve the needs of all- Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim, Burgher, Malay, Buddhist, Hindu, Christian and Islamic - from the oldest person to the youngest child in the country."

The Defense official noted that it is the President's view that preserving archeological places and artifacts regardless of religion, is a prime duty and should be given priority. "We will take necessary measures in this regard in the future," he added.

He said although anyone can express extremist ideas according to their political philosophy, those should not harm a particular religion or a race and the government will ensure the right for people to practice their religion and live according to their culture and values. "Every person should live without harming the other party. Every task we do should be according to the country's law" he said.

The Secretary paid homage to the Dalada Maligawa and called on the Chief Prelate of the Malwatte Chapter Most Venerable Thibbatuwawe Sri Sumangala Thero, the Chief Prelate of the Asgiriya Chapter Most Venerable Warakagoda Sri Gnanarathana Thero and the Chief Prelate of the Ramangna Chapter Most Venerable Napana Pemasiri thero and received their blessings.

This is the new Secretary's first visit to the Dalada Maligawa since assuming office as the Secretary of Defense on 20th November 2019.


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