By Shamindra Ferdinando
Mano Tittawella, in his capacity as the Secretary General of the Secretariat for Coordinating Reconciliation Mechanisms (SCRM) instructed Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative in Geneva A. L. A. Azeez to accept the latest resolution 40/1 on behalf of the government of Sri Lanka.
Tittawella was appointed, on March 29, 2016. In Aug 2017, as senior advisor to the Finance and Media Ministry.
The UNP-UPFA coalition established the SCRM under Prime Minister’s Office in keeping with a Cabinet decision dated Dec 18, 2015.
The Secretary General reports directly to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.
Authoritative sources told The Island, yesterday, that the SCRM had instructed Ambassador Azeez as regards government decision in respect of the resolution 40/1 led by the UK in the absence of the US.
The US quit the Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in June 2018 after accusing it of being ‘a cesspool of political bias’.
President Maithripala Sirisena, some UPFA lawmakers, including National Freedom Front (NFF) leader Wimal Weerawansa lambasted Tittawella for having given instructions to Ambassador Azeez.
Tittawella has held several key positions in the state sector such as Chairman of People’s Bank, Director General of Public Enterprises Reform Commission (PERC), Senior Director General of President Chnadrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga’s Office from August 2003 to November 2005 and was also a Senior Presidential Adviser on Economic Affairs.
Addressing a gathering at Meegahatenna, on Wednesday (March 27) President Sirisena accused Azeez of having betrayed the country and its armed forces.
Responding to another query, sources emphasised that SCRM, a special body created with Cabinet approval carried out specific instructions received from the Prime Minister’s Office in respect of the Geneva process.
Sources dismissed allegations that instructions were issued to Ambassador Azeez clandestinely. Cabinet appointed SCRM followed proper procedures and all relevant parties were aware of the government decision to seek two more years to fulfil the Oct 01, 2015 resolution 30/1.
Sources pointed out that Oct 01, 2015 resolution had been endorsed by Ambassador Azeez’s predecessor Ravinatha Aryasinha. Azeez took over the Geneva mission in April 2018. Aryasinha signed the March 2017 resolution, which gave Sri Lanka two more years to fulfil its Geneva commitments.
Former Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera would issue a comprehensive statement soon, probably within the next few days to set the record straight, sources said.
Minister Samaraweera was quite concerned over efforts being made to gain political capital at the expense of the government, sources said.
The Foreign Ministry has been under Mangala Samaraweera (January 2015 to May 2017), Ravi Karunanayake (May 2017 to August 2017), Tilak Marapana, PC (Aug 2017 to Oct 2018), Dr. Sarath Amunugama (Oct 2018-Dec 2018) and again under Minister Marapana.
Referring to UN Human Rights Commissioner Michelle Bachelet contradicting a statement attributed to Northern Province Governor Dr. Suren Raghavan, a member of the government delegation to the 40th Geneva session, sources warned of problems unless officials stopped playing politics with issues having international implications.
One-time Chilean President Bachelet took exception to Dr. Raghavan statement made in Colombo immediately after returning from Geneva. Dr. Raghavan, last Monday (25) claimed that Bachelet had acknowledged that sections of her latest report on Sri Lanka were erroneous.