Sri Lanka’s main opposition leader on Wednesday called for the government to take key steps including holding elections in the country’s former northern war zone before the island is labeled as a “pariah state” by the international community.
Taking an impassioned stance United National Party (UNP) leader Ranil Wickremesinghe requested the government to hold a meeting before the second U.S. backed resolution on Sri Lanka is passed at the ongoing United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) insisting that “it is still not too late.”
The draft resolution presented last week in Geneva calls for international investigations into allegations of human rights including war crimes, which the government has vehemently fought against and denied.
Questioning whether the regime led by President Mahinda Rajapaksa is more important than the country, Wickremesinghe demanded that the government take urgent steps to promote human rights and reconciliation by kickstarting broken-down discussions with the main Tamil party for a political solution.
He also called on the government to implement a key accountability report titled the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation (LLRC) report that the international community has backed.
“So we are calling on the government to implement the LLRC report. There are two options for us, either have international investigations or implement the LLRC and hold the northern provincial council elections by June the latest. If we do that we can avoid any more adverse steps by international organizations. We are willing to work with the government but there is no response,” he said.
Wickremesinghe insisted that the government’s continuous stonewalling on addressing reconciliation issues was pushing Sri Lanka towards being labeled as a “pariah State.”
“Once an investigation begins in Sri Lanka it affects all of us. We become the pariah state and we become the citizens of that pariah state.”
The Sri Lankan government is lobbying to have the U.S. draft resolution diluted before it goes for a vote at the end of next week.