The presidential candidate for the United National Party (UNP) Sajith Premadasa has pledged to protect accused war criminal Shavendra Silva “no matter what”, at a rally in Homagama this weekend.
"No matter what pressures, I will protect Shavendra Silva and he will continue as the Army Commander,” declared Premadasa.
Silva, who currently heads Sri Lanka’s army, has been dubbed the “most wanted man” in Sri Lanka, due to his role in overseeing a military offensive that killed tens of thousands of Tamil civilians. He headed Sri Lanka’s notorious 58 Division, an army unit that committed grave violations of international law, including the execution of surrendering Tamils. Silva’s recent appointment led to the United Nations scaling back its use of Sri Lankan peacekeepers and the US warning that it would “significantly curtail bilateral cooperation”.
However, Premadasa seemed unperturbed in his defence of Silva, reportedly telling the crowd,
“There is no need to consult outside countries on what our country should do. Sajith Premadasa isn’t a person who submits to influences of anyone… Many tried to influence me when I was nominated for candidacy. However, I told them to give me the candidacy unconditionally, or else to keep it with themselves. I will not subjugate to any influences. I am not a person who makes political deals with any group.”