Over a decade after end of war, Goonetileke, Karannagoda receive five-star rank


 By Shamindra Ferdinando at the ECT, Colombo port

President Maithripala Sirisena, who is also the Commander-in Chief of the Armed Forces yesterday (Sept. 19) ceremonially conferred the five-star Marshal of the Sri Lanka Air Force and the Admiral of the Fleet rank to Roshan Goonetileke and Wasantha Karannagoda, respectively, at an investiture ceremony, at the East Container Terminal, Colombo harbour.

Their colleague, wartime Army Commander received Field Marshal rank on March 22, 2015.

President Sirisena conferred the rank on Fonseka though ACM Goonetileke and Admiral Karannagoda were deprived of the honour.

The previous government brought the war to a successful conclusion in May 2009. However, none of those who had been at the helm at the time the peace was restored received the non-retiring rank during President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s second term.

Chief of Defence Staff Admiral Ravi Wijegunaratne, in his brief introduction of the illustrious careers of two retired officers said that they received the five star rank effective Aug 05, 2019.

Conferment of the rank was put off at least twice during continuing political turmoil since the alleged constitutional coup in late Oct 2018.

Wartime Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Field Marshal Fonseka weren’t among those present on the occasion. Wijeyadasa Rajapakse, PC, was the only member of parliament to attend the event.

State Defence Minister Ruwan Wijewardene was also not present on the occasion.

 President Sirisena and UNP MP Wijeyadasa Rajapakse were among those at the reception onboard SLNS Sindurala and SLNS Sayurala where the previous night’s declaration of presidential poll now scheduled for Nov. 16, 2019, dominated the conversation among the guests.

At the onset of nearly two hour-long programnme, the gathering was shown documentaries on Goonetileke and Karannagoda followed by introductions by CDS Wijegunaratne. Karannagoda and Goonetileke received top commands on Sept 01, 2005 and June 12, 2006, respectively. Goonetileke and Karannagoda retired on July 14, 2009 and Feb 27, 2011, respectively. The latter also held the post of CDS for over period of two years.

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