COLOMBO – Lieutenant-General Mahesh Senanayake, the commander of the Sri Lankan army, has spoken out against a defense agreement with the United States, which provides for the creation of a US military base on the island and the maintenance of a Sri Lankan military base.
“How can we sign such an agreement? We can’t agree to what is stated in it. That is like committing suicide after writing all my properties to someone else”, said the captain, quoted by the portal Lankaweb .
According to the official, after a recent series of attacks on the island, many regional and global powers are trying to benefit from the strategic location of Sri Lanka. The US project provides that Sri Lanka will provide all necessary conditions for the deployment and maintenance of the military base.
In addition, the treaty imposes an obligation on Sri Lanka to take Washington’s side in any military conflict, significantly limiting Sri Lanka’s ability to conduct diplomatic maneuvers.
As noted by the edition of Ceylon Today, repeated indications of Sri Lanka’s leadership on the possibility of signing such an agreement provoked a public discussion and opposition protests. Oppositionists have demanded that the government halt the process of negotiating the agreement, indicating that if it is signed, it will be extremely difficult to break it. According to most opposition parties, the agreement with the US undermines the country’s sovereignty.
Washington has requested that American military personnel be subject to US law when they are in Sri Lanka, several opposition parliamentarians alleged earlier. “There is also a request to exempt US military personnel from taxes in Sri Lanka”, JVP MP Bimal Ratnayake said.
The government’s political opponents have said that Washington had asked for all its military personnel that are to be stationed in Sri Lanka be under the jurisdiction of US law, and to be exempt from Sri Lankan taxes.