Sri Lanka appoints Admiral Jayanath Colombage as new Foreign Secretary

PTI Colombo, Sri Lanka Aug 14, 2020, 07.54 PM(IST)

New Foreign Secretary Admiral Jayanath Colombage assumes duties Photograph:( Twitter )

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Colombage served the Sri Lanka Navy for 36 years and retired as the Commander of the Navy in 2014.

The Sri Lankan government on Friday appointed an ex-commander of the Navy and President Gotabaya Rajapaksa's key aide Admiral Jayanath Colombage as the new Foreign Secretary, becoming the first non-foreign service person to hold the top diplomatic post.

His appointment came days after the new Cabinet took the oath with President Rajapaksa retaining the key defence ministry.

The 62-year-old headed the Sri Lanka Navy between 2012 and 2014, and since November last year, he has been the foreign affairs advisor to President Rajapaksa.

Also read: Sri Lanka president strengthens Rajapaksa dynasty in new government

This is the first time that a non-foreign service person has been appointed as the Secretary of the Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry.

Colombage is one of the four ex-military officers appointed by the president to key positions in the bureaucracy after the Rajapaksa-led Sri Lanka People's Party (SLPP) won a landslide victory in the parliamentary elections held on August 5 that allowed the influential family to consolidate power for the next five years.

The SLPP and its allies won a record 150 seats in the 225-member Parliament.

Since Rajapaksa assumed the presidency, many ex-service personnel have been picked for key positions.

President Gotabaya administered the oath of office to the 28-member Cabinet which is two less than the 30 allowed by the Constitution on Wednesday. He retained the Ministry of Defence while his elder brother and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa were assigned finance, urban development and Buddhist affairs ministries.

Colombage served the Sri Lanka Navy for 36 years and retired as the Commander of the Navy in 2014. Under the repatriation programme initiated by him, nearly 19,000 stranded Sri Lankans were repatriated from 94 countries.