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Geneva issue: Susil refuses to play CID role

2014 Oct 28

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Declining to comment on a simmering controversy concerning the External Affairs Ministry, UPFA General Secretary as well as Environment and Renewable Energy Minister Susil Premjayantha yesterday said that he couldn’t perform the duties of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID).

A smiling Premjayantha said that he wouldn’t intervene in a matter which wasn’t his responsibility. He was responding to a series of questions as regards a recent statement attributed to External Affairs Minister, Prof. G.L. Peiris.

The External Affairs Ministry issued the statement clearing the then Sri Lanka’s top envoy in Geneva, Kshenuka Seneviratne of impropriety in connection with the award of a contract for the renovation of the official residence of the Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka in Geneva in 2009. Seneviratne currently functions as the Foreign Secretary.

When the media pointed out that Prof. Peiris, instead of making a statement in Parliament regarding this matter, revealed the identity of a senior Swiss intelligence official thereby compromising security, Minister Premjayantha insisted that the media should seek clarifications from the External Affairs Ministry itself.

Minister Premjayantha said that the media should realise that he couldn’t respond to such questions on behalf of Prof. Peiris.

Asked whether he was trying to sidestep the issue, an irate Minister Premjayantha said that was a wrong assumption.

Commenting on the funding of the Swiss project, Minister Premjayantha said that like other ministries and institutions, the External Affairs Ministry, too, was subject to a process of internal auditing as well as scrutiny by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

Minister Premjayantha said that as Prof. Peiris had explained the circumstances under which that particular transaction had taken place, there was no need for him to comment on the matter. The minister stressed that the Swiss matter had been finalised before Seneviratne took over the mission and the ministry was having documents pertaining to the transaction.

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