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Army very successful in efforts to protect ceasefire - Lt. Gen. Lionel Balagalle

by Ranil Wijayapala

The Sri Lanka Army was 99.9 per cent successful in their efforts to protect the ceasefire between the Government and the LTTE, the outgoing Army Chief and the Chief of Defence Staff Lieutenant General Lionel Balagalle said yesterday.

Addressing the media after officially relinquishing his duties as the Commander of the Army and also as the Chief of Defence Staff, Balagalle said sometimes troops had to face a humiliating situation in their endeavour to protect the Ceasefire agreement.

"Even under such conditions our troops were committed to protect the truce between the Government and the LTTE", Balagalle added.

He said it was a challenging task as the Commander of the Army to keep the Ceasefire Agreement intact. "I did not want the Security Forces to get the blame for anything for any breach of the ceasefire and for resorting to violence", he added.

Commenting on the current situation in the East the outgoing Army Chief said the answers for the LTTE accusation against the Sri Lanka Army over harbouring renegade LTTE Eastern Leader Karuna will soon be found by themselves.

"I do not want to comment on those accusations. Earlier, they accused the Army of transporting Karuna to Colombo. We rejected those accusations. Now they have received answers for it. In the same way they will get the correct answers for this accusation too in time to come", he added.

General Balagalle said the Sri Lanka Army during the ceasefire had a good chance to train the troops. "So the Army is now ready to face any situation", Balagalle added. He said he could give a guarantee that he was handing over a strong Army to the next Army Chief.

Balagalle said there had been obstacles for the intelligence operations of the Sri Lanka Army. "Some intelligence cadres were killed and some of them were taken into custody and accusations were levelled against them", the Commander added.

However, he said the Sri Lanka Army could overcome all these obstacles and reorganise the intelligence units.

"There had been some setbacks but we are not demoralised", he added.

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