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UN: Sri Lanka


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To Sri Lanka, IMF Tells ICP It Is Preparing Technical Assistance Mission

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 5 -- On Sri Lanka during the International Monetary Fund's embargoed briefing on February 5, Inner City Press posed this question:

"In Sri Lanka on bank consolidation, new Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran has said 'I have also asked the IMF to send some technical experts to look at these issues from an international perspective and they have agreed to do so.' Can you confirm that? Would it be in connection with IMF visit at the end of February?"

 The following response has been provided to Inner City Press by Spokesperson Gerry Rice of the IMF: "“We have been discussing with the authorities a multi-faceted technical assistance mission on financial sector issues. Looking at financial system stability and supervision in the context of the ongoing consolidation process is one element. We are currently putting together a team to send to Colombo, but will discuss with the CBSL specific needs in the next week so that we can select the best experts and structure the mission. It will likely take place after the staff visit in February, as this is a separate, technical assistance exercise.”

  Back on January 29, after Sri Lanka's new government spoke of doing another local investigation into war crimes in 2009, Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric what Secretary General Ban Ki-moon thinks of this back to the future approach.

 Dujarric told Inner City Press, "We've seen those reports, obviously, we're trying to figure out what it means in terms of the cooperation with the UN human rights investigation. We hope there is positive movement in the cooperation between Sri Lanka and the UN system on the investigation of what happened."

  One assumes "the investigation" means the UN Human Rights Council mandated investigation.

  Back on January 12 the UN said that Secretary General Ban Ki-moon made this call:

"The Secretary-General congratulated President Sirisena’s election and the successful conclusion of the presidential election. The Secretary-General and President Sirisena discussed the President’s 100-day plan and Sri Lanka’s post-war agenda. The Secretary-General affirmed continuous support by the UN to Sri Lanka."

  That is, the UN's read-out of Ban's call had no mention of accountability or of the UN Human Rights Council inquiry into the bloodbath on the beach in 2009. We'll have more on this.

 After Mahinda Rajapaksa conceded defeat but before 10:30 pm on January 8 in Washington, US Secretary of State issued a statement, below.

  Inner City Press published it, and asked the UN for its comment. Told to expect one in the AM, New York time, Inner City Press noted, the earlier the better. Twelve hours later, there was nothing.

  So Inner City Press asked again at the noon briefing on January 9, after new President Sirisena's inauguration. UN Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq said the UN welcomes the transfer of power, then later in the briefing read out this statement:

"The Secretary-General congratulates the people of Sri Lanka on the successful conclusion of the presidential election, and welcomes the constitutional transfer of power.

"The Secretary-General applauds the Sri Lankan Elections Commission for its professionalism in ensuring a peaceful and credible election. He also commends the efforts of the candidates, including in particular outgoing President Mahinda Rajapaksa, law enforcement agencies and civil society for upholding and respecting democratic governance.

"The Secretary-General looks forward to working with President Maithripala Sirisena and the people of Sri Lanka. He affirms the continuous support of the United Nations for development, reconciliation, political dialogue and accountability in Sri Lanka."

  Inner City Press immediately asked Haq if what this reference to accountability portends for the UN inquiry into the events in 2009.

  In other possible routes to accountability, talk of seeking justice in US courts as to several joint American citizens in Team Rajapaksa - or on the team during the 2009 "Bloodbath on the Beach" -- has picked up. Some team members have reportedly already left the country.

  It's done. But what does it portend for the Rajapaksas' military / diplomatic corps, like Shavendra Silva and in New York, Palitha Kohona?


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