Tamils - a Trans State Nation..

"To us all towns are one, all men our kin.
Life's good comes not from others' gift, nor ill
Man's pains and pains' relief are from within.
Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !."
Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C 

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Home >Tamils: a Trans State Nation > Struggle for Tamil Eelam > Conflict Resolution: Tamil Eelam  Sri Lanka > Sri Lanka rejects Britain�s appointing of Special Envoy


Sri Lanka rejects Britain�s appointing of Special Envoy
TamilNet, Thursday, 12 February 2009 [see also BBC Report]

Sri Lanka swiftly rejected as �an intrusion into internal affairs� Britain�s appointment Thursday of a Special Envoy to help settle the island�s protracted conflict. Sri Lanka's Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama was quoted by the AFP as saying that the British move was tantamount to "an intrusion into Sri Lanka's internal affairs" and was "disrespectful to the country's statehood. Earlier Thursday, the British Prime Minister Gordon Brown told a parliamentary committee that he had asked former defence secretary, Des Browne, to be an envoy for Sri Lanka.

Bogollagama said that the Sri Lankan government saw Browne's appointment as a unilateral move by London and decided not to accept him.

"It is tantamount to an intrusion into Sri Lanka's internal affairs and is disrespectful to the country's statehood," the Sri Lankan Foreign minister told AFP, warning "there could be major repercussions" for relations with Britain.

He dubbed Britain's move "extremely unhelpful" but did not specify if any measures would be taken in retaliation.

"There is no further discussions with London on the matter," Bogollagama said, after the British Foreign Office has said talks were ongoing to resolve the dispute.

Mr. Des Browne is a senior Labour MP from Scotland. He held the post of Defence Secretary between May 2006 and October 2008 and concurrently held the post of Secretary of State for Scotland between June 2007 and October 2008.

After being elected to Parliament in 1997, Mr. Browne made his name with strong speeches particularly on Human Rights, Northern Ireland and Social Security, according to his constituency office�s website.

Announcing his decision to appoint Browne, the British PM had said that the important thing was "to emphasise to all partners that without a ceasefire and then an attempt at a political process we will be back to the same problems that we've had before."

"As special envoy, he will work closely with the Sri Lankan government, leaders from all communities in Sri Lanka, international agencies and the wider international community," the British government had said in a statement.

The statement, also issued by the British High Commission in Colombo, quoted Browne as saying he was "looking forward to contributing to Britain's efforts to improve the serious humanitarian situation and liaising with all parties."
Sri Lanka rejects UK's new envoy - BBC, 13 February 2009

The UK says it is still in discussion over Mr Browne's role

Sri Lanka has rejected the British PM's nomination of a former defence secretary, Des Browne, as his special envoy to the country. It said the nomination of Mr Browne was "a disrespectful intrusion".  PM Gordon Brown had said Mr Browne would work closely with the Sri Lankan government and community leaders. But President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his cabinet said the appointment was "unhelpful" and was made without consulting them.

A foreign ministry statement said the appointment was tantamount to an "intrusion of Sri Lanka's internal affairs". "Further, the cabinet perceived that this would be a hindrance in pursuing a sustainable solution to the conflict in terms of a Sri Lankan agenda," it said.

Correspondents say that Colombo's rejection of Mr Browne is an embarrassment for the British government, especially because Sri Lanka has accused the UK - its former colonial power - of "unilaterally" appointing him.

A Downing Street spokesman told the BBC that dialogue over Mr Browne's role was still taking place with Sri Lanka and that it still hoped he could work with all sides to secure a peace agreement and alleviate further suffering. But Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama warned of "major repercussions" for relations with Britain over his nomination. "There is no further discussion with London on the matter," Mr Bogollagama told the AFP news agency. The Media Minister Anura Yapa said the government had voiced its "displeasure" to the British High Commission in Colombo.

Des Browne's new job has also brought criticism from the political opposition in Britain. Speaking for the Conservatives, Liam Fox, said it was a further example of Gordon Brown's incompetence as prime minister. "Having presided over calamitous damage to our economy," said Mr Fox, " he is now making a complete mess of relations with friendly countries overseas." The Liberal Democrats criticised Gordon Brown for not taking tougher action on Sri Lanka, by seeking a ceasefire in through diplomatic channels at the United Nations.

Tens of thousands of civilians are still believed trapped in fighting between the army and Tamil Tiger rebels in the north-east. The defence ministry has said that hundreds more Tamil civilians have fled the war zone, while others trapped by the fighting are being used as "human shields" by the rebels. The Tigers have in turn accused the army of shelling civilian areas including hospitals.

About 50,000 soldiers are pressing the Tamil Tigers into a patch of north-eastern jungle after taking the key areas of Kilinochchi, Elephant Pass and Mullaitivu. The government has rejected international calls for a ceasefire, demanding the rebels lay down their arms. The Tigers have said they will not do so until they have a "guarantee of living with freedom and dignity and sovereignty".


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