PORT LOUIS, November 15, 2013 (AFP) – The prime minister of Mauritius said Friday his country was withdrawing as host of the next Commonwealth summit as a result of his decision to boycott this year’s meeting in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka has been accused of widespread human rights abuses against its Tamil minority as well as war crimes including the killing of tens of thousands of civilians during its 2009 defeat of Tamil Tiger rebels.
Sri Lanka’s hawkish President Mahinda Rajapakse has fiercely denied any wrongdoing.
Ethnic Tamils make up an estimated 10 percent of Mauritius’ population. Navin Chandra Ramgoolam announced earlier this week he was staying away from the Commonwealth meeting in Colombo in protest over what he described as Sri Lanka’s appalling human rights record.
Mauritius had been scheduled to host the Commonwealth’s next heads of government summit in 2015, and the decision comes as a fresh blow to the 53-member bloc.
The prime minister told the Mauritian parliament that diplomatic protocol requires that he attend this year’s summit in Colombo in order to personally invite other member states.
“I have made it perfectly clear that human rights are more important than hosting a Commonwealth