No knowledge on security before appointment as State Defence Minister – Ruwan

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State Minister of Defence Ruwan Wijewardene, testifying before the Parliamentary Select Committee today (06), stated that he had no knowledge on security before his appointment, however, he gathered knowledge on the subject by working for the ministry for four years.

The Parliamentary Select Committee convened at the Parliament complex at around 2.00 pm this afternoon (06).

Further speaking he said that the Security Council meetings in 2017 had discussed the clashes between two mosques in Kattankudy as a result of extremist activities in the area, however, possible terror attacks were not subjected to discussion.

The state minister says that prior to the Easter Sunday attacks he did not receive any forewarnings on the terror attacks. He added that it was only after Easter Sunday attacks that he got to know of the forewarnings received by the intelligence service.

Explaining his scope of duties as the state defence minister, Wijewardene said the Tri-forces and the state intelligence service are not under his purview. Adding that Ranaviru Seva Authority, Civil Security Department and several other institutions are functioning under his authority, Wijewardene said State Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Defence generally function as two separate entities.

The Defence State Minister says he was called to the Security Council meetings before the 51-day Constitutional crisis took place last year. Following the crisis, the President and the Prime Minister were not on good terms, he said. “I believe that is why we were not summoned to the meetings afterwards,” Wijewardene continued.

He admitted that the intelligence coordination meetings and Security Council meetings had discussed the clashes between two factions in Kattankudy and those who left for Syria and returned to the country but not the terrorist attacks or the formation of terrorist groups.

During a visit to Batticaloa, several Muslim members in the area had spoken to him about a large number of factions and the element of extremism, the state minister said.

further responding to the questions raised by the panel, the state minister said that between 16th of December 2018 and 21st of April 2019 he was not invited for any Security Council meetings.

According to the state minister, the Defence Secretary had told him that the Security Council does not convene anymore as the President meets the relevant officials whenever he wants to.

Wijewardene said that felt the intelligence service had their own autonomy, rather than working together and that the defence ministry too had a certain amount of instability since five defence secretaries were appointed from 2015 to date.

He said he was not authorized to make decisions with regard to matters of national security. But it was him who was obliged to answer issues concerning national security that were raised during the parliamentary sessions.