‘Sri Lanka visit of US officials a conspiracy’



Colombo: Three top US officials are set to travel to Sri Lanka this month in the backdrop of the impeachment of the country's chief justice, a visit that has been denounced by a nationalist group here as part of an international conspiracy.

Deputy Assistant Secretary of State James Moore, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence Vikram Singh, and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Jane Zimmerman are to travel to Sri Lanka and Maldives from January 26 to February 1 this year.

The visit comes amidst political differences in the Maldives, and concerns over tightening control by the ruling party in Sri Lanka where a tiff between the government and the judiciary resulted in the removal of the first woman Chief Justice.

It would be the first visit to Sri Lanka by representatives of the US government since Shirani Bandaranayake was impeached amid much outcry.

The US has been critical of the impeachment.

"They are coming here to gather information leading to the March UN Human Rights council (UNHRC) meeting," said Gunadasa Amarasekera of the Patriotic National Movement, denouncing the upcoming visit.

"The government must face this threat without fear. Why would the Americans be worried over our democracy and our independence of judiciary," said Amarasekera of PNM, a Sinhala majority nationalist pressure group.

It is speculated that US would move another resolution against Sri Lanka at this March's session of UNHRC.

A US-moved and India-backed resolution last year compelled Sri Lanka to agree to an action plan to implement the recommendation of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC).

The progress would be reviewed at the March meeting and the nationalist groups say that US and Western governments are out to nail Sri Lanka over its rights record due to pressure from the pro-LTTE diaspora.

PTI