In another blow for the troubled Commonwealth Heads of Government (CHOGM) summit to be held in Colombo in November, Sri Lanka’s main Tamil party has said it would boycott the event.
“We will not take part in CHOGM. But our staying away does not mean we are protesting against the participating nations. We will be eager to meet them,” Mavai Senathirajah, a senior Tamil National Alliance (TNA) legislator said on Saturday.
TNA sources said that during the inaugural meeting of the northern provincial council, the TNA group had resolved that Chief Minister of the Tamil-dominated northern province C.V. Wigneswaran must shun the CHOGM in Colombo from November 15 to 17.
The Marxist JVP or the People’s Liberation Front General Secretary Tilwin Silva said the party did not want to identify with British imperialist projects.
The main opposition UNP dubbed the event an extravagant exercise which the country could ill afford.
“It is not a question of our stand if the summit should be hosted or not, but can the country afford it,” Tissa Attanayake, the UNP General Secretary said.
Sri Lanka is to take over the chair of the 54-nation bloc of former British colonies for the next two years from Australia.
Reacting to comments from opposition parties, senior Minister John Seneviratne said that anyone trying to upset CHOGM would be blocking the progress of the nation.
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is the only head of state to stay away from the summit citing Sri Lanka’s lack of progress in human rights and reconciliation after the end of the civil war in 2009.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is yet to take a decision on whether to attend the summit as political parties in Tamil Nadu are strongly opposed to India’s participation in the event, alleging that Sri Lanka has indulged in atrocities against ethnic Tamils during the conflict.