Sri Lanka may face a tight situation at the April meeting of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) in London with the likelihood of the country being included in the Agenda for the meeting, informed sources said yesterday
As a preemptive measure External Affairs Minister G.L Peries met Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma on Tuesday in London with the intention of warding off such an inclusion.
However, he received no confirmation from Mr. Sharma that Sri Lanka will not be included in the agenda. The situation has worsened for Sri Lanka because of heightened pressure from Canada, which is part of the present cycle of the CMAG and the threat by Prime Minister Stephen Harper to keep away from the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) to be held in Sri Lanka in November this year.
“The minister made a strong case against the inclusion of Sri Lanka as an agenda item at the CMAG meeting. The minister pointed out that such a course of action is contrary to the decisions taken by the Commonwealth Heads of Government at their meeting in Perth, Western Australia in October 2011 regarding the mandate of CMAG and the scope of its functions,” the minister’s office said in a media release.
The present membership of the CMAG consists of Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, Jamaica, Maldives, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Trinidad and Tobago and Vanuatu and is reconstituted at every CHOGM. Maldives membership has been suspended on the grounds it is being investigated by the group.
Meanwhile the External Affairs Ministry said the minister described to the Secretary-General the developments which had taken place in Sri Lanka during the past few months and emphasized the need to preserve the essential character of the Commonwealth as a voluntary association of sovereign States, characterised by a striking diversity of cultures and outlook among the 54 member states of the organisation.
The minister said any attempt to politicise the organisation or to permit its structures and mechanisms to be used as instruments by some countries to interfere in the domestic issues of other countries, would inevitably distort the cultural ethos of the Commonwealth and pose significant challenges with regard to its future.
Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma told the visiting minister that he was looking forward to his visit to Sri Lanka and that he was pleased with the arrangements which were under way for the meeting of the Heads of Government.
The minister briefed Mr. Sharma about the discussions which he held in New Delhi last month regarding the summit and in particular about Sri Lanka's support for the Secretary-General's proposal with regard to the establishment of a Commonwealth Bank for Trade and Investment.
Mr. Sharma was also briefed about the recent visits to Sri Lanka by Senator Robert Carr, Australia's Minister for Foreign Affairs and Ms. Julie Bishop, Australia's Deputy Leader of the Opposition and Shadow Foreign Minister.
The minister said Australia was sharing with Sri Lanka the experience it had gained from successfully organising the last meeting of the Heads of Government less than two years ago and that this collaboration was greatly appreciated by Sri Lanka. (Dianne Silva)