Independence Day Rehearsals Drama: Police Victory as President Overrules Chief of Defence Staff's Move in Independence Day Escort Dispute

February 04, 2024

In a dramatic turn of events leading up to Sri Lanka's Independence Day celebrations, the Sri Lanka Police has emerged victorious over Chief of Defence Staff Shavendra Silva in a dispute regarding the escort for President Ranil Wickremesinghe.

The disagreement centered around the participation of the police Mounted Division in escorting the President to the ceremony, with President Wickremesinghe ultimately overruling Silva's objections, according to informed sources.

The tension reached a boiling point on January 31st when the police, in protest against Silva's stance, decided to pull out of rehearsals for the Independence Day ceremony. This move highlighted the depth of the disagreement between the police force and the military leadership over the ceremonial arrangements.

Today, the Sri Lanka Police Mounted Division, under the leadership of Senior Superintendent Thilina Hewapathirana, took center stage in escorting President Wickremesinghe during the Independence Day celebrations. This marked a significant victory for the police force, signaling their ability to assert their authority and influence in matters concerning ceremonial protocol.

Last week, the sudden removal of the police mounted division from the parade, which was originally under the military's jurisdiction, prompted both the police and Special Task Force (STF) units to abruptly withdraw from rehearsals. The move underscored the solidarity among law enforcement agencies in response to perceived injustices or infringements on their prerogatives.