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Lanka placates army to counter Fonseka

[Express Buzz, Wednesday, 18 November 2009 09:34 No Comment]

In an attempt to counter the political pull of the ousted Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) and war hero Gen Sarath Fonseka, the Rajapaksa government has announced a number of measures to placate the armed forces, especially the two lakh strong army.

The government is to immediately pay the defence forces personnel, the across the board salary hike that President Mahinda Rajapaksa had promised recently.

The decision to pay the extra emoluments with the November salary itself, was announced by the incumbent Army Commander, Lt Gen Jagath Jayasuriya, at an army parade in Panagoda on Monday, the army website said.

In addition, each and every member of the army would be given a parchment with a letter of appreciation signed by the Army Commander.

The President has agreed to immediately allocate an extra Rs 500 million to the army, so that soldiers may be given loans this year itself.

Holiday bungalows would be built at all places of tourist importance for the use of army personnel and their families at concession, Gen Jayasuriya said.

Significantly, on the day the bonanza was announced, Gen Fonseka had formally quit the office of CDS and the army, with the possible intention of standing against Rajapaksa in the next Presidential election.

While the armed forces are being paid the hike immediately, the striking civilian public sector workers have been told that the pay hike promised to them will be paid only in January next.  

Political observers did not fail to note that this distinction was a clear indication that the army had become more important than any other group in this island nation.

[Full Coverage]

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