Sri Lanka gets career foreign service officer as MFA secretary

ECONOMYNEXT – Retired Sri Lankan diplomat Aruni Wijewardane, a career foreign service civil servant, took up his post as a senior civil servant in the Foreign Office on Monday (23), replacing the politically appointed former navy commander Jayantha Colombage.

Calls for the appointment of a career foreign service official as Foreign Office Secretary have risen after the island nation’s diplomatic relations were called into question by critics amid allegations of lack of professionalism among politically appointed Sri Lankan diplomats.

Critics have raised concerns about Sri Lanka’s handling of allegations of human rights abuses by the UN Human Rights Council and global human rights groups. rights and negotiations to extend a GSP concession worth more than US$500 million annually with the European Union, both under Colombage.

New Secretary Wijewardena retired after 34 years of foreign service in 2007 after serving in numerous positions in the ministry, Sri Lanka’s overseas missions and international organizations.

His overseas service includes the Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka to the UN in Geneva, the Sri Lankan High Commission in Malaysia and the Sri Lankan Embassy in the Philippines.

She has also served as Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to Austria and Permanent Representative to United Nations Organizations in Vienna. After her retirement from service, Wijewardena served as Director of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Governing Bodies Secretariat in Vienna.

His appointment comes as part of a new government with Ranil Wickremesinghe as the new prime minister following a long protest that forced the resignation of former prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Shortly after winning the 2019 elections, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa appointed Admiral Colombage as secretary, but many foreign ministry officials criticized his handling of foreign services and diplomacy. (Colombo/ May 23, 2022)