The UNP said yesterday that the JVP`s call, for the dissolution of the army, was not something new since its founder leader Rohana Wijeweera himself said the same thing in his first public speech.
Matara District UNP parliamenatarian Sagala Ratnayake told a media briefing in Colombo that Wijeweera launched his armed struggle in April 1971 with an attack on the armed forces, labelling them as an impediment to his revolutionary objectives.
`Wijeweera repeated his call in 1988 as well .On that occassion, he not only wanted the army eliminated but their immediate families as well, whom he labelled as traitors.`
Ratnayake, said that in the light of Wijeweera`s comments, one had to view Somawansa`s recent call for the army to be disbanded seriously.
`It is now quite clear that Somawansa was actually propagating Wijeweera`s policies when he asked the army to go home if it cannot protect the country.`
Ratnayake, said that it was incumbent on Prime Minister and SLFP`s presidential candidate Mahinda Rajapakse to explain what his position is on Somawansa`s threat.
`Does Rajapakse condone Somanwanse`s threat . The people are entitled to know`, he said.
The UNP`s Polgahawela Chief Organiser and former Major General Sarath Munasinghe said that Somawansa`s threat was a betrayal of the armed forces and cannot be taken lightly.
He, said that under a UNP President a separate Ministry to look after the welfare and needs of disabled security forces personnel would be established.
Commenting on the Millenium City incident , Munasinghe said that it could have been avoided if the then army commander had sought the President`s intervention.
`Some people are trying to get political mileage out of the incident without knowing what exactly happened.`
Munasinghe, also brushed aside JVP criticism that the six brigades, UNP`s presidential candidate Ranil Wickremesinghe has pledged to establish would result in the army`s strength being reduced.
`The six brigades would be fully equipped unlike at present and would be a short term measure .The army would be expanded and strengthened in the long term`, he said.