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If Canada Succeeds in Edging out Sri Lanka Then Mauritius May Host 2013 Commonwealth Summit

By Sujeeva Nivunhella in London

Flags of Mauritius & Canada

With Canada planning to report Sri Lanka to the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) following the impeachment of Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake, the chances of Colombo hosting the Commonwealth Heads Of Government Meeting (CHOGM) this year appears to hang in the balance, observers here warned last week.

Canada initially accused for its human rights record and threatened to boycott the CHOGM summit, to be held in Colombo from November 15-17, if there was no improvement.

The next CMAG meeting is scheduled to be held in London in April this year. The Sunday Island learns that Canada has already written to CMAG members seeking their intervention to place Sri Lanka on the agenda of the forthcoming CMAG session.

If Canada succeeds, the investigation process would take months and years in which time Sri Lanka will not be able to vote in any Commonwealth meetings. If that happens the Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma has no option than to cancel Sri Lanka holding the summit, the observers noted.

If Sri Lanka is edged out, Mauritius has shown interest in hosting this key parley.

The current members of CMAG are Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, Jamaica, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Trinidad and Tobago, Vanuatu and Maldives. However, Maldives now cannot participate in the sessions as the country is under investigation following the resignation of President Mohamed Nasheed on February 7, 2012.

According to the CMAG website, CMAG was established by Commonwealth Heads of Government in Auckland, New Zealand, in 1995. It deals with serious or persistent violations of the Harare Declaration, which contains Commonwealth’s fundamental political values.

CMAG’s task is to assess the nature of infringements and recommend measures for collective Commonwealth action aimed at speedy restoration of democracy and constitutional rule.

The Group is convened by the Commonwealth Secretary-General and made up of a representative of the Commonwealth’s Chairperson-in-Office and a rotating group of foreign ministers from eight countries. It is reconstituted at every Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. Ministers generally serve two terms. CMAG’s composition, terms of reference and operation is decided and reviewed every two years.

CMAG was given an enhanced mandate at the 2011’s Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Perth, Australia.

CMAG has remained a unique body since it was established. Its authority to suspend a member country from the association is unique amongst international organizations.

It can be convened by the Secretary-General when required to deal with a perceived violation of the Commonwealth principles and values. CMAG meets annually in the margins of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. It can, however, meet in extraordinary session, when required.COURTESY:SUNDAY ISLAND