Sri Lanka president guest of honour at Games close

NEW DELHI, October 12, 2010 (AFP) – Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse will be the guest of honour at Thursday’s closing ceremony of the Delhi Commonwealth Games, where participants include nations deeply critical of his rights record. “I can confirm that the Sri Lankan president will be the guest of honour. He will also be meeting his Indian counterpart and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh,” a senior Indian foreign ministry official told AFP on Tuesday.

Rajapakse will be the chief guest with Britian’s Prince Edward, who will close the games on behalf of Queen Elizabeth II — the head of the Commonwealth.

Britain, along with prominent Commonwealth members Australia and Canada, has called for an independent probe into allegations of rights abuses during the Sri Lankan military’s final victory last year in its long civil war with Tamil Tiger rebels.

Colombo had been slated to host the Commonwealth heads of government meeting in 2011, but interventions by Britain and Canada, which have large Tamil communities, resulted in the venue being shifted to Perth in Australia.

A statement from the Sri Lankan foreign ministry Tuesday had confirmed that Rajapakse would be “the guest of honour”, but the text was later corrected to rea