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On Sri Lanka Impeachment, Kohona Questions Value of Commonwealth, Says Silva "Traveling"

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 16 -- As jurists' groups, bar associations and the Commonwealth all criticize Sri Lanka's legislature and president Mahinda Rajapaksa for what they call the politicized impeachment of Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake, Inner City Press on January 15 asked the UN:

Inner City Press: first I had asked you when the legislature voted to impeach the Chief Justice, you said there was no comment. Now President Mahinda Rajapaksa has accepted that, the Chief Justice is out, there is a lot of unrest, the opposition leader is not going to attend the naming of a new Chief Justice who would be Mohan Peiris, who I know the Secretary-General has met with. Given his involvement in 2009 and the statement made at the time, any thoughts?

Spokesperson Martin Nesirky: Well, thank you for your questions, Matthew. No, we don’t have any comment at this time. We are obviously aware of the media reports, and if that changes and we have something to say, I’ll certainly let you know.

  Twenty four later later, at the January 16 noon briefing, there was nothing. In the interim, Inner City Press managed to put this question and others to Sri Lanka's Permanent Representative to the UN Palitha Kohona, after he delivered Sri Lanka's speech on counter-terrorism to the Security Council.

  When Inner City Press asked about the criticism of the impeachment by the Commonwealth, Kohona answered rhetorically, "What is the value of the Commonwealth?"

  Based on a media report from Colombo, Inner City Press asked if Kohona's deputy, General Shavendra Silva was out of New York, to deal with the push-back against the impeachment.

  "That's rubbish," Konoha said. He told Inner City Press Silva is out of New York, "traveling."

  Finally, Inner City Press asked about Saudi Arabia's beheading of Sri Lankan migrant maid Rizana Nafeek, if the Rajapaksa government had in fact pulled its diplomatic representative out from Saudi Arabia. No, Kohona indicated.

  In the Security Council's debate on counter terrorism, Saudi Arabia spoke last and said the fighting terrorism can never justify killing civilians. It seemed more than a little ironic. But Palitha Kohona was gone. Watch this site.

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