Sirisena to ask Trump to drop rights abuse charges

November 28, 2016 12:17 am | Updated 12:17 am IST - COLOMBO:

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena will write to U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, asking his administration to drop the war crime allegations facing Sri Lanka.

“I will write to President [Donald] Trump to ask him to free us from these accusations,” he said on Saturday during a membership drive of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party, which he leads, in Galle.

“I was able to save the former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and our valiant soldiers by giving the UN Human Rights Council necessary messages,” Mr. Sirisena said, according to a PTI report.

After pushing for accountability in the island nation for years, the U.S. in September 2015 decided to co-sponsor a consensus resolution in Geneva with Sri Lanka, signalling that it was willing to give the Sirisena administration more time to work towards reconciliation and accountability.

Amid domestic political pressures and ongoing efforts to draft a new Constitution, President Sirisena has repeatedly ruled out participation of international judges in any inquiry of alleged human rights violations in the country.

In a recent interview to The Hindu , he said Sri Lanka would, at most, take “advice from foreign judicial experts.”

Following Donald Trump’s victory, many in Colombo have been curious about the future engagements of U.S. in Sri Lanka.

However, former U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Stephen J. Rapp in a recent interview observed that there was likely to be continuity in the superpower’s Sri Lanka policy.

According to Sri Lanka’s The Daily FT newspaper, the former official said that while the new administration, led by Trump, may have a different focus when it pursues justice around the world, “a core group of officials and diplomats in Washington would remain engaged on issues of accountability and reconciliation in Sri Lanka.”

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