A US Congress committee on foreign relations has expressed disappointment at President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s decision to reject foreign judges in the domestic accountability process on the war.
The views were expressed when the Congress Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific met to discuss Sri Lanka.
Committee chairman Matt Salmon noted the negative impact the Mahinda Rajapaksa regime had on US-Sri Lanka relations and the progress made in Sri Lanka after January 8 last year.
However he noted that there still remains some concerns on Sri Lanka even after January 8 last year, including on the failure to agree to foreign judges to be part of the domestic accountability process in the war.
Salmon also raised concerns on Sri Lanka’s relationship with China, including the construction of a port city in Colombo with Chinese funds.
The discussion on Sri Lanka was held under the topic “Sri Lanka’s Democratic Transition: A New Era for the US-Sri Lanka Relationship”.
Statements were made at the discussion by Ms. Lisa Curtis, Senior Research Fellow at the Asian Studies Center at the Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy of the The Heritage Foundation and by Ms. Kara L. Bue, Founding Partner at Armitage International and Nimmi Gowrinathan, Visiting Professor at the Colin Powell Center for Civic and Global Leadership in New York.
In her statement, Kara L. Bue said that the presidential and parliamentary elections of 2015 that brought President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe into power have resulted in a paradigm shift away from the authoritarian and chauvinistic rule of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa to a reform-minded era focused on good governance and reconciliation.
This shift, she said, also has effectively ended Sri Lanka’s 10-year self-imposed exile from the international community.
“Presently, the international community is largely focused on the Geneva human rights process. While important, greater economic opportunity and development are both key pieces of any peace dividend and should be supported. Sri Lankan government officials have discussed the need for an international donor’s conference for development in the North and East akin to the 2003 Tokyo’s Donor Conference. Consideration should be given to such an effort,” she added.
Armitage International was formed in March 2005 by Richard L. Armitage, former U.S. Deputy Secretary of State.
He was in Sri Lanka recently where he met the Government and the Tamil National Alliance (TNA).(Colombo Gazette)