President speaking in India says he is not in a hurry to make up his mind
Says presidential elections have been scheduled for 7 Dec.
Reiterates he was not informed of intelligence on Easter Sunday attacks
Denies investigations have revealed attackers had earlier visited India
President Maithripala Sirisena said in India on Friday that the Presidential Election had been scheduled for 7 December, but he had not made up his mind about contesting. “None of the political parties have selected candidates. I am not in a hurry to make up my mind,” he told the media on the sidelines of a meeting of BIMSTEC nations at Hyderabad House.
Speaking on the Easter Sunday attacks by radical Islamic suicide bombers which led to the death of over 250 people, President Sirisena said that Sri Lanka had not received any reports of the attackers visiting India.
Continuing about the terrorist attack, Sirisena said: “It seems an international outfit supported them (the attackers and their accomplices). They travelled to countries abroad. Most of the people in the group, including the suicide bombers, were wealthy people… they are young men and professionals. A few had doctorates. It is possible that they collected money for the activities from within the country.”
The President reiterated his charge that he was kept in the dark about intelligence reports on an impending attack. India had warned Sri Lanka about the attacks three times.
“I was in Singapore at the time of the attacks. A clear report had been sent by Indian intelligence agencies on 4 April to Sri Lanka. Correspondence had taken place between defence chiefs. However, from 4 to 16 April, the day I left to Singapore, none of the chiefs informed me about this. I would have not left the country had I known it. I removed the Defence Secretary and Police Chief because of this grave shortcoming,” Sirisena said.
On the ongoing investigations, the President said: “We have received support of intelligence organisations of friendly countries – India, US and UK – came to help us. Foreign policy of Sri Lanka relies on neutrality – we prefer mediation in resolving differences.”
On the attacks on Muslims following the blasts, Sirisena said: “We assure security for all groups in Sri Lanka. We are a vibrant democracy like India. Security and safety of all citizens will be ensured by my Government and no community will be targeted.”
He further said: “Terrorism takes many forms. In some countries there are domestic terrorists. For 30 years, Sri Lanka suffered from terrorism. We had peace for 10 years. The attacks on Sri Lanka were carried out by an Islamist group.”
“All democratic countries should join hands as terrorism hurts all countries. The objective of terrorism is to break bonds. However, in Sri Lanka the situation is under control. We have stability and peace in the country,” Sirisena said.
Tourists have started returning to the country, the President claimed.
The President said that people all over the world were congratulating Prime Minister Modi for rising to safeguard Indian democracy. Sri Lanka is looking forward to his visit on 9 June, Sirisena added.
Courtesy – The Hindu