Some diplomats survive purge, others axed

MP Mahinda Wijesekera’s brother Piyasiri in Havana, a former UNP Mayor of Colombo, Omar Kamil, in Teheran and Faiz Mustapha in London survived a purge of political appointees heading Sri Lankan missions abroad retaining their jobs at least for the time being.

But former ministers Rupa Karunatilake, U.B.Wijekoon and Ariya B. Rekawa are among the politicians and close associates and relatives of senior UNPers who are to be replaced on the recommendation of Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar through a scheme recently approved by President Chandrika Kumaratunga.

The change-over was expected to take place in a few months, well informed sources said. "Some incumbent heads of missions are desperately trying to extend their terms."

Several career officers heading missions are also to be given fresh assignments abroad or return to the ministry.

M. J. Palipane will replace career officer (retired) C.D. Cassie Chitty in Germany, N. Sikander will replace V.K.Valson (political appointee) in Sweden, B. A. B. Goonetilleke takes over from career officer Geetha de Silva in Canada, Ranjith Uyangoda replaces career diplomat Karunatilake Amunugama in Japan.

The proposed changes were announced as Kadirgamar finalised plans to visit Tokyo. Japan’s deep involvement in the peace process, particularly the economic part of it, has underscored the need to strengthen the mission in Tokyo.

Mrs. Pamela J Deen replaces former Minister Rupa Karunatilake in the Netherlands and Prasad Kariyawasam moves to New York as Permanent Representative to the United Nations. Kariyawasam who headed the Permanent Mission in Geneva returned to the ministry this year. Currently he functions as the Director General, Economic Affairs Division.

A. M. J Sadiq takes over from career officer I. Ansar in Saudi Arabia, Mrs. Aruni Wijewardena replaces Laksiri Mendis (political appointee) in Austria, Mrs. C. Wagiswara takes over from career officer Ananda Gunasekera in France, W. M. Seneviratne replaces former Minister Ariya B. Rekewa in the Philippines and M. Mahroof replaces Dr. A.N.Haniffa, son-in-law of UNP MP M.H.Mohamed, in Oman.

Retired career officer, N. Navaratnarajah would take over from former PA MP Chula Bandara in Poland.

The proposed appointments represent the largest single batch of career officers appointed as Sri Lanka Ambassadors in the recent past, ministry sources said.

Neville Ranasuriya, former Chairman, Employers Federation of Ceylon, Institute of Personnel Management, Brooke Bonds Ltd. and Director, MJF Group, with 42 years experience in the tea trade has been named as Ambassador to the Russian Federation. He replaces former Minister U.B. Wijekoon. Russia is one of the world’s biggest tea buyers.

During the past two years, the career service Heads of Mission accounted for only about 40%. The present and forthcoming appointments will make it to go beyond 60%.

Both Piyasiri Wijesekera and Dr. A.N.Haniffa had held previous diplomatic appointments, in France and Bangladesh respectively.(SF)


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