Sri Lanka accuses Canada of ‘manipulating’ Commonwealth

Sri Dharanee Performance Arts Theatre

COLOMBO, April 15, 2014 (AFP) – Sri Lanka on Tuesday accused Canada of undermining the Commonwealth to score political points after it announced a suspension of funding while the island nation chairs the group. Colombo has denied the accusations, but the UN Human Rights Council passed a resolution in March to set up an investigation into actions by both government forces and Tamil rebels between 2002 and 2009.

The Commonwealth Secretariat is responsible for easing cooperation between member states, organising meetings and advising on policy development. Sri Lanka’s foreign ministry said the halting of Canada’s $US9 million annual contribution to the Commonwealth Secretariat was an attempt at political “manipulation” at the expense of the 53-member bloc.

Canada’s government announced Monday it was suspending the funding while Sri Lanka remains chair of the bloc, in protest at war crimes allegedly committed during the island’s separatist conflict.

“Regrettably the Canadian government has sought to use its voluntary funds as a political tool… thereby holding the membership of the wider Commonwealth to ransom,” the ministry said in a statement.

Sri Lanka, which holds the rotating chair for two