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Sri Lankan president pledges to protect ‘pride of the security forces’ at UN

Sri Lanka’s president dismissed claims that he had begun to reduce the size of the military and instead vowed to protect the “pride of the security forces” at the United Nations later this month.

Maithripala Sirisena is due to meet with the UN Secretary General António Guterres as well as the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet at the 73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly later this month.

Speaking to reporters in Colombo earlier today, Sirisena said that he would put forward “proposals aimed at solving issues and provide relief without causing harm to the pride of the security forces and safeguard independence, sovereignty and national security”.

Sirisena went on to defend his government’s bolstering of Sri Lanka’s military, stating that “although a section of the media level baseless allegations that the government was placing national security in danger by reducing the military strength, the government has taken every possible step to ensure national security”.

Sri Lanka’s official President’s Media Division went on to quote him as stating “the biggest budget allocation of Rs 230 billion is for the defence and the forces have been provided with every requirement from modern weapons to aircraft and ships”.

“There is a positive recognition for the Sri Lankan armed forces internationally as a disciplined army and that is evident from the fact that United Nations Peace Keeping recruit increased number of army personnel from Sri Lanka,” he added.

Sri Lankan troops stand accused of committing massive human rights violations as part of a military offensive that culminated in May 2009, with the deaths of tens of thousands of Tamils. To date, senior Sri Lankan leaders have vowed not to participate in any international war crimes tribunal, despite agreeing to a UN resolution that mandated an accountability mechanism with international judges.

Despite this, the Sri Lankan military has continued to participate in UN peacekeeping missions, as pointed out by Sirisena, as well as receive training and participating in military exercises with other governments, including the United States and India.