Tag Archive | "CHOGM"

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CHOGM inaugurated with Prince Charles representing Queen Elizabeth II

Posted on 15 November 2013 by admin

The 23rd Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) was inaugurated with Prince Charles the Prince of Wales, representing Queen Elizabeth II in attendance at the Nelum Pokuna Mahinda Rajapaksa Theatre.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa and First Lady Shiranthi Rajapaksa were received by Prime Minister D. M Jayaratne on arrival. President Rajapaksa, Commonwealth Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma with their spouses and the outgoing chair of the Commonwealth, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbot received all Commonwealth leaders and their representatives and their spouses at the entrance.

A bevy of female traditional dancers performed after the national anthem was sung by a group of students selected from schools all over the country. A group of artistes including Pandit W.D. Amaradeva, Sangeeth Nipun Sanath Nandasiri, Rohana Beddage and Rohana Weerasinghe made a beautiful rendition welcoming all the delegates. A dance troupe representing all dancing traditions of Sri Lanka also performed. Pictures by Sudath Silva, Official Photographer CHOGM 2103.

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The Honourable Deepak Obhrai will represent Canada at the CHOGM in Sri Lanka

Posted on 09 October 2013 by admin

The Honourable Deepak Obhrai, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and for International Human Rights, will represent Canada at the meeting in Colombo.

The Canadian prime minister, Stephen Harper, has said he will not attend a November summit of the Commonwealth in Sri Lanka because of what he called human rights abuses on the island.

"We remain disturbed by ongoing reports of intimidation and incarceration of political leaders and journalists, harassment of minorities, reported disappearances, and allegations of extra-judicial killings," he said in a statement on Monday.

The UN's human rights chief said last month Sri Lanka could be sliding toward an authoritarian system as the country's president, Mahinda Rajapaksa, gathered power around him.

Harper is the only leader from the Commonwealth, which groups Britain and many former colonies, to announce he will boycott the November summit. Britain also has criticised human rights in Sri Lanka.

Harper said it was unacceptable that Sri Lanka had yet to investigate allegations of atrocities during and after a long civil war with Tamil rebels, which ended in 2009. Sri Lanka has denied allegations its troops committed major crimes.

"It is clear that the Sri Lankan government has failed to uphold the Commonwealth's core values, which are cherished by Canadians … I will not attend the 2013 Commonwealth heads of government meeting in Colombo," said Harper.

Canada will be represented by Deepak Obhrai, the parliamentary secretary to the foreign minister, John Baird.

 

 

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CHOGM Update – Investments & Security

Posted on 15 September 2013 by admin

CHOGM 2013 will woo new investments

by Uditha Kumarasinghe – Sunday Observer (Sept.15)

 

Prime Minister D.M. Jayaratne said the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) would be an ideal opportunity for Sri Lanka to project its image globally and attract new investments.

CHOGM will pave the way to show the world how Sri Lanka treats all communities equally without any discrimination. It will also help develop the economy and attract new investors, the Premier told the Sunday Observer yesterday.

“We have invited not only Commonwealth countries, but also other countries to make investments in Sri Lanka. Discussions have also been held with Chinese Leaders. They were requested to send high-profile investors to launch business ventures in Sri Lanka”, he said.

Following the Government’s open invitation, a large number of foreign investors has already expressed willingness to visit Sri Lanka during CHOGM and discuss investment opportunities in Sri Lanka.”

Investors visiting the country would see Sri Lanka as an ideal location for investments. Sri Lanka as the host country of CHOGM could also increase the number of tourist arrivals and promote the tourism industry.

Therefore, CHOGM would bring many socio-economic benefits to the country, he said.

He said some Commonwealth countries had attempted to prevent CHOGM being held in Sri Lanka. However, President Mahinda Rajapaksa during his overseas visits and the Government through its diplomatic missions could create a conducive environment to hold CHOGM in Sri Lanka.

The Prime Minister said Commonwealth delegates could tour the North and other parts of the country and see for themselves how Sri Lanka treats all communities equally irrespective of caste or religious differences. They could also witness the significant transformation in the country after the end of terrorism.

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Major security ops for CHOGM

September 15, 2013

 

A major security operation has been launched in the city ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) to be held in Sri Lanka.

Security sources told The Sunday Leader that under stage one of the operation salons, communication canters, and locations used as lodging by Indian and Pakistani nationals living in the city as well as lodges have undergone a thorough security check.

A report on the first stage of the security operation in preparation for the CHOGM summit has been given to the National Intelligence Bureau (NIB), sources added.

The second stage of the security operation will cover hotels where the Heads of State will be staying during the Commonwealth summit in November.

Security sources told The Sunday Leader that there are fears some groups may attempt to disrupt the summit which will be attended by Heads of State from Commonwealth countries including India as well as Prince Charles who will represent the queen.

Meanwhile sources at the office of the Chief of Defence Staff said that a search operation will also be carried out within the Colombo city limits and areas to be visited by the Heads of State during the summit.

Local security agencies are also working with foreign security agencies as part of the security arrangements for the summit.

Report by Indika Sri Aravinda – Colombo Gazette

 

 

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CHOGM News: No additional security for Heads of State, says External Affairs Ministry

Posted on 11 September 2013 by admin

No additional security contingents would be accompanying the visiting Heads of State during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) to be held in Colombo in November, External Affairs Ministry Secretary K. Amunugama said today.

Mr. Amunugama told Daily Mirror Online that apart from the standard personal security protocols for a Head of State, no additional security was to be expected, as the main security provisions were taken care of by a special Sri Lankan security committee headed by Chief of Defence Staff Jagath Jayasuriya.

Earlier General Jayasuriya said the government would implement a special security programme to assure the safety of the visiting Heads of State. He also said the tri-forces Special Task Force (STF) and Presidential Security Division (PSD) would be directly involved in the security arrangements. Fifty-four Heads or representatives of Commonwealth states would attend the CHOGM between November 10-17. (Jehan Gunasekera)

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CHOGM, an ideal forum to promote country’s image globally – Minister Sarath Amunugama

Posted on 29 August 2013 by admin

 

The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) would be the ideal forum to promote the country's image globally and dispel any misconceptions about the country internationally, Senior Minister of International Monetary Cooperation and Finance and Planning Deputy Minister Dr. Sarath Amunugama said.

"This prestigious event presents Sri Lanka a valuable opportunity to promote and reposition the country as a strategically important economic centre of the word," the Senior Minister said.

Dr. Amunugama was commenting on the benefits the country can derive from hosting the CHOGM 2013.

He said Sri Lanka will be able to present its case of political stability and tranquility as part of the process against all kinds of misinformation that has been spread by some elements looking to achieve their partisan objectives and aims by discrediting the country with false propaganda.

He said world leaders and other delegates who visit Sri Lanka for the CHOGM could see for themselves the prevailing peaceful situation in Sri Lanka.

Dr.Amunugama noted that authorities will also use the opportunity to enlighten the international community about the investment potentials in Sri Lanka and to showcase the socio – economic developments achieved by the country in the post conflict period.

While noting that Sri Lanka is privileged to hold the summit this year, Dr.Amunugama said, this is the first time an Asian country is hosting this in 24 years.

Assumption of Commonwealth leadership by Sri Lanka is going to put the country on the world stage," he pointed out.

 

 

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Commonwealth Business Forum launched in London ahead of CHOGM in Colombo

Posted on 09 August 2013 by admin

High Commissioner to the United Kingdom Dr. Chris Nonis held a launch event at the Sri Lanka High Commission in London to promote the Commonwealth Business Forum to be held in Colombo from 12-14 November 2013, leading up to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2013. Dr. Nonis said that Sri Lanka is a microcosm of the Contemporary Commonwealth and was one of the eight founder member Nations of the modern Commonwealth.

Sri Lanka achieved peace in the country under the leadership of President Mahinda Rajapaksa and CHOGM 2013 in Sri Lanka is a wonderful opportunity for all Heads, Foreign Ministers and their delegations, and the world’s media to see for themselves the reality of contemporary Sri Lanka.

The theme ‘Partnering for Wealth Creation and Social Development; The Commonwealth, Indian Ocean and SAARC’ is in consonance with the policy of the ‘Mahinda Chinthana’ to ensure that all communities reap the dividends of economic growth. The Commonwealth Business Forum would play a significant role in encouraging pan-Commonwealth trade and investment, and would also ensure that substantial economic dividends would accrue to Sri Lanka.

He thanked all the London-based Commonwealth High Commissioners who comprise the Board of Governors of the Commonwealth Secretariat and sit with him and have regular dialogue on Commonwealth issues at Marlborough House. He said they always worked together in the spirit of unity and friendship, because they have a depth and breadth of understanding that all Commonwealth countries are at different stages of development.

Dr. Nonis congratulated Prince William and the Duchess on the birth of the new royal baby and proposed a toast to HRH Prince George of Cambridge on behalf of the President and people of Sri Lanka. Dr. Nonis welcomed over 170 guests who included Kamalesh Sharma, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth; the Commonwealth High Commissioners; representatives of Prince Charles’ office at Clarence House; Princess Katerina; Sheikh Makhtoum of UAE; Prince Ali Khan; Lord Howell of Guildford, Chairman of Council of Commonwealth Societies; Lord Rogan of Lower Iveagh; Lord Dholakia; Baroness Greengross; Lord Loomba; Sir Alan Greengross; James Wharton MP, Mark Menzies MP, Charles Tannock MEP, Tim Yeo MP, Eaun Blair, Mayoress Stainton, Sir Desmond de Silva QC, PC, Harendra de Silva QC, and members of the Conservative Foreign and Commonwealth Council.

Representatives from British Industry and Commerce including Chris Gibson-Smith, Chairman of the London Stock Exchange; Sir Thomas Harris, Standard Chartered Bank; De La Rue; HSBC; Crown Agents; Habib Bank; Marks and Spencer; GlaxoSmithKline; UK Department of Trade and Industry; the London Chamber of Commerce; CIMA; private equity funds; fund managers; and members of the Commonwealth Business Council. In addition, representatives from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office; the British Asian Trust; Youth Enterprise UK; the Commonwealth Foundation; and representatives from British Universities and the British Council attended.

Representatives from several civil society organisations included Cheryll Dorall, Commonwealth Journalists Association; Patsy Robertson, Ramphal Institute for Commonwealth Policy Studies; Mark Robinson, Commonwealth Consortium for Education; Michael Lawrence, Asia House; Tim Unwin, Commonwealth Telecommunication Organisation; Judy Curry, Commonwealth Education Trust; Sir Peter Heap, Friends of Sri Lanka; Neville Greene, Royal Society for Asian Affairs; and the Commonwealth Countries League.
Dr. Nonis articulated the depth of passion, and sense of duty of Queen Elizabeth for the Commonwealth. He warmly welcomed Prince Charles and the Duchess to Sri Lanka and spoke about how Prince Charles had visited over 30 Commonwealth countries, represented the Queen at the Commonwealth Games, and visited Sri Lanka in 1998 for the 50th celebration of Sri Lanka’s independence, and two months following the tsunami in 2005.

He spoke of two of the Prince’s Trusts which are working in Sri Lanka, Youth Business International; and the British Asian Trust, of which Dr. Nonis said he was privileged to be heading the Sri Lanka Advisory Council.

Peter Callaghan, Director General of the Commonwealth Business Forum, made a presentation on the Commonwealth Business Forum. He highlighted that several Commonwealth Heads had already confirmed they would be speaking at the Forum, which was expecting over 1,000 delegates, in addition to their attendance at CHOGM.

He also spoke about the economic value that would accrue in the wake of the CBF in Colombo, and the quantum of investments that have arisen from previous Commonwealth Business Forums held in Africa, the Caribbean countries and Australia. He also discussed the proposals for investment available in Sri Lanka and the potential for expansion of all sectors and pan-commonwealth trade. Dr. Nonis thanked all those who had taken the trouble to go and see for themselves the progress in Sri Lanka, and welcomed all those present to CHOGM or the three parallel fora, the Commonwealth Business Forum; Commonwealth Youth Forum; and Commonwealth People’s Forum, and join in Sri Lanka’s renaissance.

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Canada Foreign Minister John Baird will attend CHOGM in Sri Lanka

Posted on 31 July 2013 by admin

 

 

Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird is expected to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Sri Lanka, External Affairs Ministry Monitoring MP Sajin Vass Gunawardena said today. The MP said this when he met newspaper Editor and electronic media heads at Temple Trees for breakfast this morning.

Gunawardena said the government however hopes Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, as the head of state, will attend the key summit.

The MP said that more than 80 percent of the participants for CHOGM have confirmed their attendance at the summit.

He also said that advanced teams from the Commonwealth countries are expected to arrive in Sri Lanka over the next few days.

Gunawardena also said that that Sri Lanka expects USD 2 Billion investments from the summit.

The Canadian government had in April said it will not send a full delegation to the November summit in Sri Lanka.

Emma Welford, Spokesperson for the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade had told the Colombo Gazette at the time that Canada will continue to monitor events in Sri Lanka and do what it can to try to increase pressure on the government of Sri Lanka to make changes on the human rights issue.

“As the Prime Minister has stated very clearly, we expect our concerns to be addressed prior to the next Commonwealth Head’s of Government Meeting. However, given the current circumstances, it would be very difficult for this government to fully participate in this Summit,” Welford said.

Welford added that the Canadian government has spoken loud and clear on the issue of human rights in Sri Lanka, including its concerns on the lack of accountability for the serious allegations of war crimes, lack of reconciliation with the Tamil community, and with the events that have taken place since the end of the civil war.

Earlier Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper hinted that he would like to see this year’s Commonwealth summit moved out of Sri Lanka in protest over the country’s human rights record. (Colombo Gazette)

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COMMONWEALTH, international law, and CHOGM by Vernon Botejue J.P.U.M. Senior Attorney at Law

Posted on 24 April 2013 by admin


The publicity given recently, both in the print and electronic media, to protests against the holding of the Commonwealth Heads Of Governments Meeting in Sri Lanka in September 2013, presided over by the Queen of England, has certainly focused the light on the Commonwealth of Nations, the multi-racial Association that undoubtedly has grown in strength and numbers through the years in like manner as the United Nations and has earned recognition as a ‘mini united nations’.

And it is chronic irony that the said protests emanate, not only from countries hostile to Sri Lanka but also from certain friendly members of the ‘Commonwealth’ eg. Canada; U.K; through officers holding high office in N.G.O.s in such countries, who make unilateral decisions in respect of matters purely within the realm of the internal affairs of another Independent Sovereign State like Sri Lanka and in order to galvanize their counter parts in such other country to implement their unilateral decisions into action accordingly, grant co-operation and support, including funding, for executing their own parochial agendas utterly destructive and detrimental to the Sovereignty and Independence of Sri Lanka.

The Members of he Commonwealth of Nations are truly Independent. The former contention that Commonwealth relations, inter se, were not governed by International Law because of their common allegiance to the Crown, no more, is tenable. Quote. Prof Smith “this curious doctrine, born a dying duckling, has perished quietly.” The common allegiance which was the foundation of the common status of British subjects no more exists and each Dominion has passed its own Citizenship Laws. The Immigration Laws vary from country to country. The Laws of the Commonwealth in themselves differ, but with this exception, in the field of Commercial and Industrial Law, a common pattern exists.” Thus it is manifestly evident no foreign country in the Commonwealth has the privilege or right to interfere with the Laws, in particular to interfere with the Supreme Law the Constitution of Sri Lanka.

“Three Commonwealth Associations wants Sri Lanka suspended” is a banner headline in the front page of the Daily Mirror published on April 19, 2013 that noted “The Commonwealth Lawyers Association (CLA) Commonwealth Legal Education (CLEA) and Commonwealth Magistrates and Judges Association (CMJA) passed a resolution yesterday calling for the suspension of Sri Lanka from the Union.” And have offered their unstinted support to their counterparts in Sri Lanka on issues raised by the said NGOs that have now become a dead duckling as it is manifestly evident by the fact that the stalwart parliamentarian designated as the “Cope Crusader” of the opposition UNP, former President of the BASL who had acted on such a brief given to him by foreign agents, stepped down, in breach of a tradition of the B.A.S.L that a President can run for a second term uncontested, because he – the ex President had foreseen the result in the event of his standing for an election, and passed the baton on to his Party colleague to follow in his foot steps who has totally politicized the BASL and destroyed its reputation and dignity by blatant breach of all hoary traditions and practices of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka, as evidenced by the news reports of the election and induction to office of his successor: “The absence of the Chief Justice and the Law officers of the State who play a dominant role at these ceremonies”.

LTTE Diaspora

It is no secret now and stands exposed that the foreign provocateurs perform on the brief given to them by the LTTE Diaspora and their apologists of the world’s most ruthless Terrorists Outfit in the Globe, including the local disgruntled lawyer politicians now embittered by loss of power and perks that they had enjoyed for quite a long time and lulled into a dream of staging a come back through foreign intervention and collaboration.

 

In the premises it is deemed necessary and expedient in the public interest, to examine in this discussion, the relevancy and reasons for Sri Lanka opting to stay in the Commonwealth on becoming a free Independent Sovereign Nation by briefly delving into the origin and development of the Commonwealth.

Prof. De Smith has traced the commencement of the Commonwealth to the de-colonization of the British colonies by the typical mechanism for the attainment of Independence by an internally self-governing colony that, Prof De Smith set out in his treatise in great detail that has been accepted and followed by Britain and the colonies concerned. (Constriction of space restrains publication in full the details of such mechanism set out by Prof. Smith)

When the old colonies of the U.K. Canada, Australia and New Zealand and even South Africa were granted ‘Dominion Status’ these countries had their own home-grown constitutions and the term ‘British Commonwealth’ was used because of kindred affinity and the close association the citizens of these countries had with Britain.

When the UK granted Dominion Status to India she had her own constitution drafted by her own experts that included M. Ambedkar. However colonies including Sri Lanka, Malaya, Singapore and the former colonies in West and East. Africa were given constitutions that had many similarities, based on what is known as the “Westminister model.”

Britain had recognised that the moment a country was given Dominion Status it has equality of status with the U.K. and has attained sovereignty in International Law. In confirmation of this recognition the Balfour Report of the Inter-Imperial Relations Committee in 1926 declared that the U.K. and the Dominions were equal in status and in no way subordinate one to another in any respect of the domestic or external affairs though united by a common allegiance to the crown and freely associated as members of the British Commonwealth of Nations. But this definition was not deemed to be quite accurate at the time. Some Dominions remained less equal to the U.K. eg. The Constitution of Canada is tied up to the British North America Act.

Common interests

In 1971 the heads of Government of the Commonwealth held a meeting and drew up its ‘Declaration of Principles’ that described the ‘Commonwealth of Nations’ as “a voluntary association of Independent Sovereign States, each responsible for its own policies, consulting and co-operating in the common interests of their people and in the promotion of International Undertakings and World Peace”.

Thus it is manifestly evident that the resolutions referred to above taken by the NGOs as reported in the Daily Mirror article and reference, to call for suspension of Sri Lanka is ultra vires and contrary both to the spirit and letter of the principles enunciated herein and clearly points to a sinister attempt to cause disharmony and disruption of the calm and peace that now prevails throughout Sri Lanka after the total eradication, root branch and tree of the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam) scourge from the soil of Sri Lanka in May 2009.

Membership in the Commonwealth was not automatic but open to all colonies of Britain, irrespective of colour, creed or different races or languages throughout the globe whether they were rich industrialized nations or the poor with freedom to frame their own policies, but the basic foundation on which the edifice of the Commonwealth has been built is “consultation” and “co-operation.” However it has to be remembered that despite the principles enshrined, conflicts and wars have been waged intermittently eg. between India and Pakistan.

It is noteworthy that Commonwealth Membership is not obtained automatically on de-colonization. It is well known that many colonies viz Egypt, Sudan, Iraq, Nepal and Burma under the British Raj opted to be out of the Commonwealth. Eire left in 1949. It is also on record that, “By a collective decision of the Commonwealth countries, South Africa was forced to leave in 1962.”

Independent nations

It is also noteworthy that some of the Independent Nations that even severed the unifying tie of allegiance to the Queen of England opted to stay in the Commonwealth. It is quoted that Jawaharlal Nehru has observed the reason for such decision “It is an Association that brought together, for frank discussion, without binding commitments, leaders from the various parts of the earth.”

Looking back in retrospect, when Sri Lanka adopted in 1973 “The Constitution Of The Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka” Chapter 1 Section 1 declared “Sri Lanka (Ceylon) is a Free, Sovereign, Independent and Democratic Socialist Republic and shall be known as the “Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka.” A pertinent question arises. Why Sri Lanka opted to stay in the Commonwealth? The answer is evidently found in the aforementioned observation of Jawaharlal Nehru that influenced Sri Lanka .

It was after free independent India and Pakistan sought and were admitted to full membership of the Commonwealth in 1947 that the organization gained recognition as a Multi-Racial Association. Until 1947 the Commonwealth comprised only of five countries viz Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

Today the Commonwealth is comprised of 54 big or small countries according to the list of member states of the Commonwealth of Nations by population compiled by Wikimedia Foundation,Inc. a non profit organization, as last modified on April 7, 2013. The biggest is India, smallest is Nauru with a population of 10,000 and Sri Lanka is listed as no.16 with a population of 20,462,000.

The concept of common allegiance to a crown was abandoned the moment the Indian Republic was accepted as a member of the Commonwealth. Today it is ‘the Commonwealth of Nations’ and not the British Commonwealth, but all are united by an indissoluble Link viz the Queen who is the head of the Commonwealth.

A unique forum

Consequent to the change of status of the Commonwealth, a new Secretariat had to be constituted. A Secretary–General was appointed by the Commonwealth countries to which he owed allegiance. He was not responsible to the British Crown as was formerly the case when the British Commonwealth of Nations functioned.

It is interesting to note that many Independent countries that were under the British Yoke opted to retain the membership of the Commonwealth of Nations. The growth and utility of this Association is attributed to the efforts of a Canadian Arnold Smith who was at the helm of affairs of the new Secretariat who together with his loyal staff through their tact and diplomacy kept the Commonwealth together to overcome a series of catastrophes: the Pakistan – Indian war, the separation of the Malay Peninsula, the turmoil in Africa and lack of funds may have led to the dissolution of the Commonwealth.

It is matter of record, in an article published in the News Letter of The BASL, written by an eminent jurist and a former Judge of the Supreme Court, Dr H.W. Thambiah QC who was a lecturer at the Ceylon Law College when this writer was a student. “The Commonwealth is a unique forum. The meetings of the Heads of the Commonwealth have produced useful results. The meetings of the Finance Ministers, Law Officers, Heads of Departments, Parliamentary Associations, Chief Justices, Vice Chancellors, Officers of Broadcasting Corporations, Press, publicity and even athletes, have strengthened the Commonwealth. Common problems ranging from governmental policies to athletics, are discussed at these meetings and each Commonwealth country has benefited by such frank discussions”.

Dr Thambiah has also noted “That Mr Ramphal, the Secretary and his staff have done their best to organize meetings and provide opportunities to unite the Commonwealth countries and in particular to help the developing countries of the Commonwealth”. That includes Sri Lanka and certainly provides an answer to the question why Sri Lanka opted to remain in the Commonwealth.

Dr Thmbiah has also “noted that Canada, through CIDA Aid organization had considerably helped the developing countries. The only motivation is help to humanity, a gesture which is greatly appreciated by Sri Lanka and other developing countries”.

In this context it is heartening to note the banner headline in the Sunday Observer of April 21, 2013 “CHOGM will go ahead as scheduled” based on a press release issued by the Deputy Minister of External Affairs Neomal Perera ,” that everything was in place to hold the next Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Colombo in November despite the various false allegations against Sri Lanka.”

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