Sajin Vass in UK on "damage control mission"
January 26, 2013, 7:08 pm
By Sujeeva Nivunhella in London
Monitoring MP for the Ministry of External Affairs Sajin Vass Gunawardane arrived in London last week on what was widely viewed as a "damage control mission" following disturbing reports that Sri Lanka could lose the right to host the Commonwealth Heads Of Government Meeting (CHOGM).
The Sunday Island exclusively reported last week that this key parley hangs in the balance as Canada is pushing the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) to discuss Sri Lanka in their next Group meeting to be held in London in April.
Canada has already reported Sri Lanka to the CMAG following the impeachment of Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake and it is reliably understood that there is a possibility of calling an emergency meeting of CMAG to discuss Sri Lanka rather than waiting for their normal meeting in April.
Accompanied by Chief Protocol Officer Majintha Jayasinghe, Gunawardane met with Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma on Thursday for a lengthy discussion.
However, if CMAG decides to take action against Sri Lanka, the Secretary-General would not be in a position to bail out the country, observers said. Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, Jamaica, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Trinidad and Tobago, Vanuatu and Maldives are in the CMAG.
Gunawardane also met with British Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Alistair Burt and about 15 other British MPs at the Hilton Hotel in Park Lane, London on Wednesday evening to seek their support.
Both Alistair Burt and Kamalesh Sharma are due to visit Sri Lanka shortly. When The Sunday Island contacted the Commonwealth Secretariat to ascertain the latest developments, an official replied, "We can only say that at this point consultations are ongoing".