2ND LEAD

Sri Lanka rejects Britain’s appointing of Special Envoy

[TamilNet, Thursday, 12 February 2009, 20:57 GMT]
Sri Lanka swiftly rejected as “an intrusion into internal affairs” Britain’s appointment Thursday of a Special Envoy to help settle the island’s protracted conflict. Sri Lanka's Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama was quoted by the AFP as saying that the British move was tantamount to "an intrusion into Sri Lanka's internal affairs" and was "disrespectful to the country's statehood. Earlier Thursday, the British Prime Minister Gordon Brown told a parliamentary committee that he had asked former defence secretary, Des Browne, to be an envoy for Sri Lanka.

Bogollagama said that the Sri Lankan government saw Browne's appointment as a unilateral move by London and decided not to accept him.

"It is tantamount to an intrusion into Sri Lanka's internal affairs and is disrespectful to the country's statehood," the Sri Lankan Foreign minister told AFP, warning "there could be major repercussions" for relations with Britain.

He dubbed Britain's move "extremely unhelpful" but did not specify if any measures would be taken in retaliation.

"There is no further discussions with London on the matter," Bogollagama said, after the British Foreign Office has said talks were ongoing to resolve the dispute.

Mr. Des Browne is a senior Labour MP from Scotland. He held the post of Defence Secretary between May 2006 and October 2008 and concurrently held the post of Secretary of State for Scotland between June 2007 and October 2008.

After being elected to Parliament in 1997, Mr. Browne made his name with strong speeches particularly on Human Rights, Northern Ireland and Social Security, according to his constituency office’s website.

Announcing his decision to appoint Browne, the British PM had said that the important thing was "to emphasise to all partners that without a ceasefire and then an attempt at a political process we will be back to the same problems that we've had before."

"As special envoy, he will work closely with the Sri Lankan government, leaders from all communities in Sri Lanka, international agencies and the wider international community," the British government had said in a statement.

The statement, also issued by the British High Commission in Colombo, quoted Browne as saying he was "looking forward to contributing to Britain's efforts to improve the serious humanitarian situation and liaising with all parties."


Chronology:


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