Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa told foreign correspondents here on Friday that he understands India’s electoral compulsions in regard to its stand on the US-sponsored resolution against Sri Lanka at the March session of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva.
Asked if he has an inkling of how India may vote, Rajapaksa said: “I don’t know. But we are aware that the Indians are going to face an election a month after the March session. India’s leaders have to think of their future and take into account the mood of electorate. We understand them. Politicians understand each other.”
However, the dialogue with India, as indeed with all members of the UNHRC, is going on, he added.
“I will be meeting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the BIMSTEC summit in Myanmar and External Affairs Minister G L Peiris had spoken to his Indian counterpart Salman Khurshid five days ago. We are in constant touch with each other.”
The President said that Lanka is “uncomfortable” with any resolution against it. Foreign Minister Peiris added that in his interactions with UNHRC members, he sensed that they find the annual ritualistic resolution against Lanka to be a “nuisance” and one which is “excessive and forced.”
Asked to comment on the election manifesto of the All India AIADMK which said that there should be a referendum on the formation of an independent Eelam among Lankan Tamils resident in Lanka and abroad, Rajapaksa retorted: “How could the Tamil Diaspora participate in such an exercise? They are not citizens of Sri Lanka but various other countries! They can only take part in referenda in these countries.”
Done My Best
Asked if he is satisfied with the post-war reconciliation process in the face of international criticism that it is inadequate, Rajapaksa said: “We have done our best. We have resettled the displaced people, given them electricity, roads, and schools. We have demined 94 per cent of the war zone. The accusations against us are unfair.”
“Cabinet approval for the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission report was given only in July 2012 and we have had only 19 months to do address the 280 recommendations.,” the President said.
US’ Hidden Agenda
Asked why the US is presenting resolution after resolution against Lanka, and whether the US is aiming at a regime change, Rajapaksa said: “There may be a hidden agenda. But I am not worried, so long as I have the support of my people.”
No to Poaching
On the Indo-Lankan fishermen’s issue, Rajapaksa said that there is no question of allowing Indian fishermen to fish in Lankan waters with or without bottom trawlers. “India does not allow our fishermen to fish in its waters!” he pointed out.