SA style Reconciliation Commission would have helped avert UN resolutions

36797_1by Zacki Jabbar

Cabinet Spokesman and Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne says that if former President Mahinda Rajapaksa had listened to him and established a Commission of Inquiry modeled on the lines of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission to inquire into war crimes allegations against his government and LTTE, Sri Lanka could have averted facing UN resolutions.

Addressing a news conference in Colombo recently, he said that the Rajapaska’s who were cherishing the delusion that they were solely responsible for the defeat of the LTTE were not prepared to listen to anyone. It was that attitude which had also led to a presidential election being advanced by two years.

Senaratne recalled that he had even advised President Rajapaksa not to give the Chinese company which was building the Colombo Port City Project any land on an outright basis, but allocate it on 99-year lease basis plus some tax benefit since it had agreed to reclaim land from the sea at a cost of USD 1.5 billion. “If only he had considered the issue of sovereignty and legal implications involved, there would have been no problem proceeding with the Port City project. Now, we are saddled with the task of resolving an unnecessary issue with a friendly country like China,which has been helping us for decades.”

Commenting on the issue of Indian fisherman poaching in Sri Lankan waters, he said that it could be resolved amicably through negotiations. “During a visit to India when I was Fisheries Minister, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi told me that the question of poaching was a humanitarian issue and could be resolved through discussions between the fisher societies of both countries.”

Minister noted adding that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had also ruled out discussing the Katchatheevu Island, whose territorial rights India had conceded to Sri Lanka as far back as 1974.