Dr Kohona warns of danger ACSA, SOFA pose to Sri Lanka Ranil is the only beneficiary, says Samaranayake
Posted on June 27th, 2019

By Ifham Nizam Courtesy The Island

June 27, 2019, 10:06 pm 

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Dr. Kohona addressing the media. Mohan Samaranayake looks on(pic courtesy Eliya)

Sri Lanka has no defence agreement with the US and it should be cautious as regards agreements that may put it on a collision course with countries like India, China and Iran, warns former Permanent Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Palitha Kohona.

Speaking to the media in Colombo yesterday on the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) and Acquisition and Cross-Servicing agreements (ACSA) between Sri Lanka and the United States of America, former Foreign Secretary and UN official asked why Sri Lanka has to enter into agreements which were not beneficial to it.

“What is our political leadership thinking? The US has over 100 SOFA agreements around the world?’ he asked.

He said the US military personnel could come to Sri Lanka, carry weapon and do anything and they could not be dealt with under the local laws.

Citing examples, Dr. Kohona said US forces faced a number of rape charges in the Philippines, but did not face legal action in that country.

The former top UN staffer said that parliament should have a role in discussing such agreements because they affected sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of the country. Agreements of that nature should be approved by parliament by a two-thirds majority, he added.

“What I say is that we must maintain good relationships with USA, China and India but that it should not mean we should sacrifice our independence,” the former Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to UN Headquarters in New York said.

The Acquisition and Cross Services Agreement (ACSA) was signed first in 2007 and renewed in 2017 after being expanded with many controversial annexures.

The ACSA provides for joint military cooperation between Sri Lanka and the United States and includes logistic support, supplies, services and the use of airports and ports during “unforeseen circumstances”, Dr. Kohona said, warned that while the 2007 ACSA permitted US military vessels to enter Sri Lanka ports on a ‘one-off’ basis, the 2017 ACSA appears to be “open ended”.

Senior Journalist and former UN official Mohan Samaranayake said that Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was the only winner who wanted to promote imperialism and danced to the tune of Western powers.

Citing examples, he said that PM Wickremesinghe was the only leader in the developing world who justified the US invasion of Iraq.

He stressed that Sri Lanka could not antagonise any country but at the same time could not give in to anyone.

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