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Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on Monday directed the Minister of State for Defence, Ruwan Wijewardene, to conduct a full investigation into the operation of a veritable private army run by the state-backed Rakna Arakshaka Lanka Limited (RALL) and Avant Garde Maritime Security Services Limited (AGMSL) after disclosures made in the Sunday Times (Political Commentary) last week.
“Did you leak the story to the Sunday Times?” asked a journalist from Wijewardene when a few of them, mostly representing outlets in New Delhi, surrounded him at India House, the official residence of the High Commissioner at Thurstan Road. The occasion was the celebration of India’s Republic Day. “No, no. I also read it from the Sunday Times. I treat all the media fairly and equally,” he replied.
In what took the air of an impromptu news conference, Wijewardene had to answer a volley of questions. He revealed that he had met the directors of the RALL. “They were contradicting each other,” he said. In response to a question, one of the directors had said that their partner AGMSL was running a floating armoury in ‘international waters’ and added that they were docking in the Galle Harbour only for re-fuelling purposes. A director had at first explained that they were unable to have on board Navy personnel to protect the weapons since that would, in the international context, become a vessel of war. When he later questioned the directors what would have happened if the armoury was seized by someone, Wijewardene said “he replied that the Navy was on board.”
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