The United National Party says the appointment of “Presidential Task Force to build a Secure Country, Disciplined, Virtuous and Lawful Society” consisting of only  members of the armed forces, the intelligence services and Police is highly problematic.

“During an election period, the accepted practice is that no major policy decisions are taken or new organisations are established other than when faced with grave circumstances. The formation of this broad-based Presidential Task Force once again shows the President as choosing to ignore the norms,” UNP General-Secretary Akila Viraj Kariyawasam said in a news release.

He said many of the issues which are to be tackled by the task force are national policy issues and should be discussed during the election period, before being handled by the newly formed government following the election.

Kariawasam noted that apart  from the acting-Inspector General of Police and two Deputy Inspector Generals, the composition of the task force is made up of retired or serving members of the armed forces and questioned why five separate intelligence agencies are required to serve on this task force when the Chief of the National Intelligence Services is tasked with coordinating all other intelligence agencies in the country, and as such his presence alone in this task force would be sufficient.

The UNP also questioned the absence of the DIG in charge of the Police Narcotics Unit, the Commissioner-General of Prisons, the Commissioner-General of Immigration and Emigration, the Attorney General, the Sri Lanka Bar Association, Ministry of Health and other relevant medical officials saying the tasks assigned to the Task Force must be implemented by the civilian bureaucracy.

“According to the constitution of Sri Lanka only the Cabinet of Ministers, the Prime Minister and President or a Cabinet Minister through his/her Ministry Secretary can issue instructions to institutions under their purview. Furthermore, specific laws provide the power to Cabinet Ministers to issue instructions directly to institutions specified in the law. The UNP states that in the event this Task Force issues any instructions to government institutions they will fall under the category of “illegal activities of social groups which are violating the law”,” the press release said.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa established the task force  this month and appointed Secretary  to the Ministry of Defence  Major General (Retired) Kamal Gunaratna  as its Chairman.

Its other members are  Commander of the Sri Lanka Army Lieutenant General Shavendra Silva , Commander of Sri Lanka Navy Vice Admiral Piyal de Silva ,Commander of Sri Lanka Air Force  Air Marshal Sumangala Dias,  Acting Inspector General of Police  C.D. Wickremarathne , Director General of Customs Major General (Retired) Vijitha Ravipriya , Chief of the National Intelligence Service Major General (Retired) Jagath Alwis  , Director of State Intelligence Service Major General Suresh Salley , Director of Army Intelligence Unit  Major General A. S. Hewavitharana , Director of Navy Intelligence Unit  Captain S.J. Kumara, Director of Air Force Intelligence Unit Air Commodore M.D.J. Wasage   , Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Special Task Force of Police T. C. A. Dhanapala  and  Deputy Inspector-General of Police  Waruna Jayasundara.

Task Force members include the Commander of the Sri Lanka Army Lieutenant General Shavendra Silva , Commander of Sri Lanka Navy Vice Admiral Piyal de Silva & Commander of Sri Lanka Air Force Air Marshal Sumangala Dias