GL tells P’ment CHOGM in Sri Lanka is ‘crystal clear’

Wednesday, 6 March 2013 00:15 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

By Ashwin Hemmathagama – Our Lobby Correspondent

Confirmation of holding the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in November 2013 in Sri Lanka is “crystal clear” and “there isn’t any shadow of doubt about that,” Minister of External Affairs Prof. G.L. Peiris told Parliament yesterday.

According to Prof. Peiris, Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma who was in Sri Lanka on a four-day visit last month has also reconfirmed the venue, which is Sri Lanka, in his departure statement.

“My visit provided an opportunity to be briefed on the preparations for the 2013 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) scheduled to be hosted by Sri Lanka in November, as decided by Commonwealth Heads of Government in 2009 and confirmed in 2011. Preparations for CHOGM 2013 are impressive and on track,” Minister Prof. Peiris highlighted from the departure statement made by Secretary General on 13 February in response to Leader of the Opposition Ranil Wickremesinghe.

Delivering the statement following the Standing Order 23 (2), Leader of the Opposition said: “The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2011 in Perth adopted the report strengthening the role of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG). This gave effect to the earlier resolution at Port of Spain 2009 where it was agreed to strengthen the role of CMAG to deal with the full range of serious or persistent violations of the Harare Principles. At the Perth meeting, it was also agreed that CMAG be the custodian of these values and more proactive to country situations with serious violations of Commonwealth values.”

“Media reports have stated that Sri Lanka will be discussed at the next CMAG meeting. The news release of the Ministry of External Affairs titled ‘Sri Lankan Issues have no place in CMAG Agenda – GL tells Chair of CMAG’ states that the exhaustion of the good officers role of the Secretary General is a condition precedent for any specific country situation to be included in the agenda of CMAG,” he said.

“This is clear from the rules relating to CMAG adopted by Commonwealth Heads of Government at their meeting in Perth, Western Australia, in October 2011. Another news release issued by the National News Agency of Bangladesh stated that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the Chair of Commonwealth Ministers Action Group, called upon Colombo to take some positive steps to uphold the Commonwealth values and principles.”

“That report has a series of defined steps that need to be followed before placing any matter in the agenda. Paragraph 18 of this report deals with the Harare declaration. Sub paragraph 1 makes it abundantly clear that the good officer role of the Secretary General has to be fully exercised in referring to any matter to the Ministerial action group,” said Prof. Peiris in response.