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International Relations

JVP asks President to abolish SOFA, ACSA as tensions rise in Middle East

JVP MP Bimal Rathnayake – Image credit: jvpsrilanka.com

In view of rising tensions in the Middle East, the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) formally requested President Gotabaya Rajapaksa today to abolish the SOFA and ACSA pacts entered into with the United States government.

JVP MP Bimal Rathnayake writing to the President said the party will fully support a government-backed motion in Parliament to have the controversial agreements abolished.

Under provisions in the Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement (ACSA), said Rathnayake, Sri Lanka is obligated to provide communication, fuel, harbour and airport facilities to US troops in the event of a US-led military campaign.

Under the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), he said, the US military will be permitted to enter Sri Lanka freely and unscrutinised, as well have their military aircraft and other equipment brought in unhindered. US troops will also be able to run their own communications network on Sri Lankan soil without being subject to the island’s laws, he added.

Rathnayake cited Iraq as an example of a sovereign state trapped by similar agreements.

“The US used provisions of a SOFA signed with Iraq in 2014 to assassinate an Iranian military leader in Iraq. That’s how they began their military campaign against Iran. The Americans used permissions Iraq has granted to them to set up military bases and use Iraqi communication facilities and other resources,” Rathnayake wrote.

Every country that has signed a SOFA with the US is caught in this same trap, the MP said, judging by American acts of aggression paying scant regard to those countries’ sovereignty. When the Iraqi government tried to expel the US Army, the US government threatened sanctions against that country, he added.

“This shows that once you enter these agreements, it is difficult to get out of them. There’s a high possibility that the US will make Sri Lanka party to this emerging conflict in the Middle East, which must be prevented before it is too late.

“Therefore, we ask you to urgently move a motion in Parliament to abolish SOFA, a major threat to Sri Lanka’s national security and sovereignty signed in 1995, and the ACSA signed by you in 2007 and extended by the United National Party (UNP) government in 2017. The JVP is prepared to vote for such a motion and extend the party’s fullest support,” the MP said.