U.S expresses concern over Shavendra Silva being appointed Sri Lankan army commander

COLOMBO (The Island /ANN ) -The United States government said yesterday, that it would not tell Sri Lanka who should be given positions in the public service, but its concern expressed with regard to the appointment of Lt. Gen. Shavendra Silva as commander of the Army, was due to allegations of gross human rights violations against him.

The U.S Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Alaina B. Teplitz during an interaction with journalists at her residence in Colombo said, "It is only an articulation of our concerns" and should not be seen as interference in the affairs of another country or an attempt to dictate who should be appointed to key positions.

"The allegations of gross human rights violations against Lt.Gen. Silva, documented by the United Nations and other organisations are serious and credible", she noted adding that the appointment undermined Sri Lanka’s international reputation and its commitment to promoting justice and accountability, especially at a time when the need for reconciliation and social unity was paramount, in the light of assurances given by the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe National government to the United Nations Human Rights Council, which had adopted several resolutions on accountability issues in Sri Lanka, arising out of the war which ended on May 18, 2009.

Asked whether the application by the Podujana Peramuna’s Presidential candidate Gotabhaya Rajapaksa to renounce American citizenship had been accepted, the Ambassador said it was an administrative issue and no conclusion could be drawn from the fact that Gotabhaya’s name did not appear in the Federal Registry at this stage."It could at times take as much as a year. Neither I nor our government has given any assurances to Gotabhaya. The administrative process will take its normal course."

When told that Gotabhaya, who was the brother of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, had met her (Ambassador) prior to being named the Podujana Peramuna’s Presidential candidate, she replied that the U.S had not signified its backing to any candidate in Sri Lanka’s next Presidential Election.

Meetings with local politicians was nothing unusual, Teplitz added.