President Maithripala Sirisena called a special meeting with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera ahead of last week's Cabinet meeting. The matter in hand was the controversial Cabinet Memorandum on being signatories to the Ottawa Treaty which has already received the approval of the Cabinet of Ministers.
Even though the Cabinet of Ministers had given its approval when the Cabinet paper was forwarded amidst proposed tax revision proposals as this column reported last week, the matter was taken up for discussion with the Defence Ministry sending its observations strongly protesting against the move to hold the special Cabinet meeting that was held on 5 March.
The government following the Cabinet meeting held on Wednesday (2) announced it would ban land mines and be signatories to the Ottawa Convention.It also promised to destroy its accumulation of explosive devices, nearly seven years after the civil war ended.
The Defence Ministry had forwarded its observations to the Special Cabinet Meeting citing that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has forwarded this Cabinet paper without having a proper consultation with it.
This column from time to time reported that President Sirisena was not very happy with the Foreign Minister acting arbitrarily on certain crucial matters and he did not miss the opportunity to raise these concerns at this pre-Cabinet meeting between Prime Minister Wickremesinghe and Minister Samaraweera.
The meeting was held in order to avoid any embarrassment that it would cause if the matter was directly taken up at the Cabinet meeting and once the Cabinet met President Sirisena informed that though the Cabinet has approved signing the Ottawa Treaty there are serious concerns about the matter.
To every one's shock, President Sirisena also informed that he thought of having a separate meeting with the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister as he has doubts about the origination of this Cabinet memorandum.
He said his personal inquiries from the top officials of the Foreign Ministry, who are normally involved in preparing a Cabinet paper, proved that they also were unaware about the existence of such a Cabinet paper. While informing the Cabinet of Ministers that this will be presented in Parliament only after all doubts on the issue are cleared and after serious insight into Defence Ministry's concerns, President Sirisena strongly advised Minister Samaraweera not to jump the gun, hereafter, without properly briefing him on matters.
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