Sri Lanka will not depend on aid: president

May 16, 2007 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s president vowed on Wednesday not to depend on foreign aid after Britain said it would suspend debt relief to its former colony until Colombo improves its human rights record. President Mahinda Rajapakse said he would accept “genuine aid,” but will not depend on it, his office quoted him as saying during a meeting with local newspaper editors at his residence.

“If we are offered genuine aid we will take it. If not we will forget about aid and do our job,” the president said. “We will not be dependent on aid.”

The president’s office said he was commenting on the “reported suspending of aid by Britain.”

“Today, we use our own money for resettlement work. We did not wait till the international non-governmental organisations came with their money,” the president said.

“The work is going on successfully. We are providing electricity to people being resettled. New roads are being built in these areas.”

The suspension of foreign aid to Sri Lanka was announced by Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development Gareth Thomas earlier this month.

He said Colombo must address Britain’s “rights concerns.”

“Further debt relief paymen