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Old 07-02-2019, 10:10 AM
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Arrow SOFA will turn SL into US military anchorage: Oppn.

SOFA will turn SL into US military anchorage: Oppn.
BY: Lahiru Pothmulla - The Daily Mirror - 7-2-19

The Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) which is being negotiated by the Sri Lankan Government and the US Embassy is a coup to convert Sri Lanka into an anchorage of the US military, the Opposition said today.

Presenting a draft of the agreement at a news briefing, Opposition MP Bandula Gunawardana said SOFA, which has 15 main proposals, was a threat to the sovereignty of the country .

He said Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa would make a statement on the agreement after studying the draft and other documents prepared by the two Opposition-appointed committees to study the agreement.

“We request the UNP to do the same. They are trying to get this agreement signed in secret. It is the noble duty of the UNP presidential candidate to clarify his stance on the SOFA agreement. We also want the US Ambassador to confirm whether these 15 proposals are true,” the MP said.

The agreement states that US military and civilian personnel identified as members of the US Defence Department would be referred to as ‘US personnel’ throughout the agreement.

The SOFA states that:

* US personnel should be given special privileges and immunity accorded to diplomats under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.

* They should be allowed to enter and exit Sri Lanka with a US identification.

* The Sri Lankan Government should accept all professional licenses issued by the US, its political subdivisions, or States to US Personnel as valid in Sri Lanka.

* US personnel be authorised to wear uniforms while performing duties and to carry arms while on duty in Sri Lanka.

* The US Government should be allowed to exercise criminal jurisdiction over US personnel in Sri Lanka.

* US Defence Department and US personnel should not be liable to pay any taxes within Sri Lanka

* Vessels and vehicles operated by or for the US Defence Department should be allowed to exit and move freely within the territory of Sri Lanka.

* Sri Lanka should allow the US Defence Department to operate its own telecommunication system without any payment being made to Sri Lanka. The use of the radio spectrum shall be free of cost to the US Government.

* The US Defence Department may choose and contract for contractors without any restriction in Sri Lanka; such contracts shall be solicited, awarded and administered in accordance with the laws and regulations of the US.

* Acquisition of articles and services in Sri Lanka under the SOFA Agreement shall not be subject to any taxes in Sri Lanka

* US contractors shall be granted the same treatment as US personnel with respect to professional and driver’s licences.

* US personnel shall have freedom of movement and access to and use of mutually agreed transportation, storage, training, and other facilities required

* Requests for claims made by third parties against the damages caused by the US personnel should be resolved by the US in accordance with its rules and regulations.

* SOFA Agreement, upon its entry into force, shall supersede any former agreement Sri Lanka entered into with US Defence Department relating to US military and civil personnel.

* The two governments or its representatives may enter into implementing arrangements or MoUs to carry out the provisions of this Agreement

* If the Sri Lankan Government agrees to the content of the agreement, based on the letter presented by the Foreign Affairs Ministry, the agreement would come into force on the date of the Ministry’s reply as a bilateral agreement.

*The US Embassy would accord the highest recognition to the Sri Lankan Foreign Affairs Ministry within an environment created after the signing of the SOFA agreement.

O Almighty Lord God, who neither slumberest nor sleepest; Protect and assist, we beseech thee, all those who at home or abroad, by land, by sea, or in the air, are serving this country, that they, being armed with thy defence, may be preserved evermore in all perils; and being filled with wisdom and girded with strength, may do their duty to thy honour and glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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