Apr 272013

Leading News from Sri Lanka::

* Commonwealth reiterates support to Sri Lanka despite Canada’s stanceSat, Apr 27, 2013, 12:06 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Apr 27, London: The Commonwealth has reiterated that a decision made by leaders of its member states in 2009 and confirmed in 2011 to hold the 2013 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Sri Lanka still stands and as planned the summit would be held in Colombo in November.

Addressing the media following the 39th Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) at Marlborough House in London Friday, the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Kamalesh Sharma confirmed that Sri Lanka, which is not on the formal CMAG agenda, had been discussed at the meeting under ‘matters of interest’.

He said that no member government had indicated that it wishes to change the venue despite claims of Canada’s vehement opposition to holding CHOGM in Colombo.

However, John Baird, Canada’s foreign minister has told the UK Guardian that Canada was disappointed and appalled that Sri Lanka seems poised to host CHOGM and to be chair-in-residence of the Commonwealth for two years.

Mr. Sharma said that Commonwealth plays a pivotal role in assisting Sri Lanka in practical ways through his Good Offices engagement by providing technical support to enhance the independence of the Human Rights Commission and the Electoral Commission.

“As the Commonwealth, we try to be practical in offering our assistance, and have embedded action for beneficial changes as far as the members are concerned,” the Secretary-General said.

He said the assistance given by the Commonwealth will continue for months to come and he is confident of positive results in all the areas of human rights, of rule of law, of governance, and institution building and strengthening

Highlighting the participation of Sri Lanka in next week’s Commonwealth workshop on reconciliation, Sharma said sharing the experience of other countries in reconciliation at the workshop will give further impetus to what the Commonwealth can do in partnership with Sri Lanka, to help the country in all the other very deep, ingrained issues.

According to the Secretary-General, Sri Lanka has agreed upon a road map the Commonwealth had developed. The road map includes technical support to Sri Lanka in respect of the appointment and dismissal of senior judges, based on examples of good practice across the Commonwealth.

“From this exercise, we will be able to make recommendations as to what needs to be done moving forward in order to have those immediate measures, whether systemic of legislative, so that the kind of constitutional crisis which arose earlier and the polarity and the excuse for confrontation never arises again,” he said.

Transcript of CMAG Press Conference 26 April 2013

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