By Jamila Najmuddin
The government said today that UN Chief Ban Ki-moon has assured President Mahinda Rajapakse that the panel of experts appointed by him will not advise or interfere with the Sri Lankan government in any way.
However President Mahinda Rajapaksa, during a telephone conversation with the UN Chief yesterday said that the Secretary General’s intention to appoint a panel of experts to advice him on Sri Lanka was totally uncalled for and unwarranted.
The President also informed Ban Ki-moon that he was emphatic on this position as no such action had been taken about other states with continuing armed conflicts on a large scale, involving major humanitarian catastrophes and causing the deaths of large numbers of civilians due to military action.
The President further said that the implementation of such an intention would certainly be perceived as an interference with the current general election campaign being held island wide.
The President, concluding his conversation with the UN Chief had then stated that he would be addressing a letter to the Secretary General shortly, to further discuss this issue.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama told Daily Mirror online that the UN Secretary General had also informed President Rajapakse during the telephone conversation that the panel would advise the UN Chief on the ‘process’ and ‘progress’ Sri Lanka was making in terms of the accountability factor and not on any other issues.
“The telephone conversation between Mr. Ban Ki-moon and President Rajapakse took place on Friday morning and the Secretary General had informed the President that the UN was appointing an expert panel to advise him on the progress Sri Lanka was making in terms of the accountability factor. He also assured our President that they would only advise the Secretary General and not the Sri Lankan government,” Minister Bogollagama said.
He added that President Rajapakse had then informed the UN Chief that there was a domestic process the government was working on to which the UN Head reiterated that the panel’s advise would be for him alone.
The Minister also said that the telephone conversation was ‘nothing out of the ordinary’ as conversations between the President and the UN Head were ‘frequent’. (Daily Mirror online)