MonitorsPublished on Jul 13, 2009
A major reshuffle of the Sri Lankan defence establishment took place last week. General Sarath Fonseka took over as the Chief of Defence Staff, a newly created post, with powers to map out military strategy and planning. Gen.
South Asia Weekly Report 80

Sri Lanka
< class="maroontitle">Major military reshuffle in Sri Lanka

A major reshuffle of the Sri Lankan defence establishment took place last week. General Sarath Fonseka took over as the Chief of Defence Staff, a newly created post, with powers to map out military strategy and planning. Gen. Fonseka was succeeded by Gen. Jagath Jayasuriya as the new Chief of the Armed Forces. On assuming his duties, Gen. Jagath Jayasuriya said his 200,000 strong force would be used in the massive reconstruction efforts in the areas once held by the Tamil separatists. Wasantha Karannagoda, Sri Lanka’s Navy Chief took over as the new National Security Advisor. The Naval Chief is Thisara Samarasinghe. Meanwhile, the current Chief of Staff of the Sri Lanka Army and Competent Authority for the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the North, Major General G A Chandrasiri, has been assigned the position of Governor of the Northern Province. The erstwhile governor of the Northern Province, Dixon Dela, has been appointed as the new High Commissioner for Sri Lanka in the Maldives. President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s brother, Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, has been made the civilian head of the defence department.

< class="maroontitle">India and Bangladesh Prime Ministers meet

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina, met this week on the sidelines of the Non Aligned Movement (NAM) summit in Egypt. Both the prime ministers agreed to resolve bilateral issues amicably through dialogue. Replying to Bangladesh’s concern over Tipaimukh Dam, Dr Singh assured that India will not take up anything that will harm Bangladesh’s interest. Sheikh Hasina also assured that she will not tolerate any anti-India activity in her country’s soil and will act against such groups. In another development, chiefs of the Border Security Force (BSF) and Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) met in Dhaka for a three-day summit beginning from July 12. Besides discussing various border issues, both sides exchanged lists of terrorists and criminals who have been either arrested or believed to be living in each other’s territory. India’s list contains 77 names, including that of ULFA leaders Arabindo Raj Khoya, Paresh Baruah and Anup Chetia. Bangladesh’s list contains 1227 names. India also handed over a list camps that are being run by anti-India groups in that country.  In a significant development, Bangladesh security forces have arrested an operative of the outlawed Asif Raza Commando Force (ARFC). Mufti Obaidullah, the militant, has revealed the existence of Laskhar-e-Tayeeba (LeT) cells in Bangladesh. ARFC is accused f carrying out attack on the American Centre at Kolkata in 2002.

< class="maroontitle">MDP wins repoll in Thimarafushi

The ruling Maldivian Democratic Party emerged victorious in a repolling that took place in Thimarafushi atoll. Mohamed Mustafa defeated his opponent Mohamed Gassan Maumoom, son of former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, by a slender margin of 50 votes.  They claimed the seat as “the second golden seat” after the seat of the presidency. With 25 members in the Majlis, the recent victory could provide more leverage to the ruling MDP in the national legislature. MDP parliamentary leader Moosa Manik hinted at the possibility of defections to his party, saying there are many more members of the Parliament who are now willing to join the party.
< class="maroontitle">Future talks uncertain after Gilani and Manmohan Singh meet in Egypt
Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Yusuf Raza Gilani met on the sidelines of the 15th summit of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt on Thursday (July 16). This is the third high-level meeting between the two countries since the 26/11 Mumbai terrorist strikes culminated in a joint statement. According to the statement, both countries realized the importance of a dialogue process for building an atmosphere of confidence and resolving all disputes. Further, India agreed in principle to not make the stalled Composite Dialogue Process conditional to Pakistan’s counter-terrorism performance. The Foreign Ministers of both countries have agreed to meet during the UN General Assembly later this year. The meeting comes in the backdrop of the release of Lashkar-e-Tayeeba chief Hafiz Saeed. While India maintains that Pakistan is not serious in prosecuting Saeed, Pakistan cites lack of evidence for the slow pace of investigation. After the release of the statement, Prime Minster Singh made India’s stance clear. “Composite dialogue cannot begin unless and until terrorist heads which shook Mumbai are properly accounted for, (and) perpetrators of these heinous crimes are brought to book,” he said.

< class="maroontitle">Contributors:

      • Anjali Sharma                        – Sri Lanka, Maldives
      • Joyeeta Bhattacharjee        – Bangladesh
      • Kaustav Dhar Chakraborti  – Pakistan
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