Lanka Recalls 29 ‘Political’ Ambassadors
COLOMBO: Sri Lanka has recalled 29 non-foreign service envoys in order to lessen the politicization of its diplomatic corps at the top level.
Thirty five out of the country’s 65 missions overseas have been under non-foreign service envoys, many of whom being relatives or supporters of politicians, including former President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
They had been appointed without tests or examinations only to serve the political constituencies or the families of the powers-that-be.
However, the envoys in New Delhi and Washington have been left untouched in the current shake-up. While the Lankan Ambassador in Washington, Prasad Kariyawasam, is a retired career diplomat, and is not an outsider as such, the High Commissioner in India, Prof Sudarshan Seneviratne, is expected to continue at his post at least until the completion of two high-level visits in February-March. President Sirisena is to visit India in February, and Prime Minister Narendera Modi is to come to Sri Lanka in March.
Prof Seneviratne and some others could even stay on for a long period because the Lankan government is not thinking of doing away with the practice of appointing non-foreign service persons lock, stock and barrel.
The earlier norm was to give 60 per cent of the posts to career diplomats and 40 per cent to others. The Sirisena government has raised the career diplomats’ share to 70 per cent. This is in reaction to the excessive recruitment of non-foreign service people during the Rajapaksa regime.
At the end of Rajapaksa’s nine year rule, 54 per cent of the envoys were non-career diplomats, a very high share even by the Lankan yardsticks.