COLOMBO (Reuters) – Security for Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena was strengthened following the discovery of an alleged plot to assassinate him, two of his advisers said.
Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena makes a gesture while speaking during a meeting with her Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, March 23, 2017. REUTERS / Kirill Kudryavtsev / Files
An Indian citizen, appointed by the Indian and Sri Lankan media as M Thomas of the southern state of Kerala, was arrested on charges of involvement in the plot on 22 September. The former Sri Lankan Defense Secretary, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, was also a target, a police officer said. .
"The president is very serious about this," said Shiral Lakthialaka, one of the councilors, to journalists in Colombo.
"Those responsible have taken steps to strengthen their security, certainly their security has been reinforced, we need a broad investigation into this."
The alleged plot emerged for the first time at the end of September after a police informant, Namal Kumara, published a telephone recording between him and a senior police officer, where he said that there was a plan to kill Sirisena.
It is not clear if there are other individuals believed to be involved.
The plot briefly threatened to provoke tensions between Sri Lanka and its much larger neighboring India, after a report in which Sirisena had accused India's intelligence services of being involved – an assertion that New Delhi and Colombo have both denied.
The Indian newspaper The Hindu said today that Sirisena has accused the Indian intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) of being involved in the plot.
Both the Sirisena office and the Sri Lankan Ministry of Foreign Affairs have denied comment.
The office of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a statement that Sirisena had called to say that the accusation that he had accused RAW was "absolutely unfounded and false".
A coalition between the Sri Lankan Freedom Party (SLFP) of the center-left of Sirisena and the Prime Minister United National Party (UNP) of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has become increasingly tense in recent months.
Both coalition partners suffered heavy defeats in local elections in February, and Sirisena loyalists supported a no-confidence motion in April against the prime minister, who survived after a majority of legislators voted to support his coalition government .
Report by Ranga Sirilal and Shihar Aneez at COLOMBO, Editing by Alasdair Pal, Sanjeev Miglani, William Maclean