The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) should evaluate the situation in Sri Lanka and report on whether the Government was keeping to its declared commitment to the Harare Principles of Democracy and the Rule of Law, UNP MP Mangala Samaraweera said yesterday.
Mr. Samaraweera urged Commonwealth Secterary-General Kamalesh Sharma to request CMAG to act urgently. His statement came a day after President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Mr. Sharma announced the dates of the next Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) to be held in November 2013.
That same afternoon, Opposition MPs walked out of Parliament protesting against the manner in which the Legislature was proceeding on a politically motivated impeachment motion against the Chief Justice, Mr. Samaraweera said. This was a violation of the Commonwealth Latimer Principles on the Three Branches of Government.
“As the current chair of the Parliamentary Commonwealth Union, Sri Lanka has now an even greater responsibility to uphold the principles contained in the Harare Declaration,” the MP insisted. “However, in Sri Lanka, ever since the Presidential ‘power- grab’ of 2010, when the 18th Amendment to the Constitution was rushed through Parliament, it was becoming increasingly clear that the Rajapaksa regime was moving away from Commonwealth values and principles.”
“Democratic institutions have been systematically dismantled since then, but the impeachment process—more akin to a witch trial of the dark ages—unleashed against the Chief Justice, has now exposed the true agenda of the regime at its worst,” Mr. Samaraweera asserted. CMAG presently comprises of the foreign ministers of Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, Jamaica, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Trinidad and Tobago and Vanuatu. Maldives is a member but not active. CMAG deals with serious or persistent violations of the Harare Declaration, which contains the Commonwealth’s fundamental political values.