Amid pressure, PM says India inclined to vote against Sri Lanka (Roundup)

March 19th, 2012 - 8:36 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh New Delhi, March 19 (IANS) Amid increasing pressure from coalition ally DMK, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Monday assured parliament that India was “inclined” to vote in favour of a UN resolution over Sri Lanka’s “war crimes” and hoped it will ensure the Tamil community in Sri Lanka “equality, justice and self-respect”.

DMK president M. Karunanidhi was quick to welcome the prime minister’s assurance, describing it as “a victory for the Sri Lankan struggle”.

“As regards the issue of a draft resolution initiated by the United States at the on-going 19th Session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, we do not yet have the final text of the resolution,” Manmohan Singh said in Lok Lok Sabha.

He was replying to the debate on on Motion of Thanks to the President for her address to the joint sitting of Parliament.

“However, I may assure the House that we are inclined to vote in favour of a resolution. That, we hope, will advance our objective, namely, the achievement of the future for the Tamil community in Sri Lanka that is marked by equality, dignity, justice and self-respect.”

Manmohan Singh kept a small leeway by saying he was awaiting the text of the resolution, but the statement in parliament has virtually decided India’s stand, which is bound to upset Colombo.

The prime minister’s statement was greeted by thumping of desks by MPs of various parties, including the DMK.

DMK president M. Karunanidhi announced in Chennai that the scheduled high-level party meet Tuesday and his fast Thursday had been called off. “It is a victory for the Sri Lankan struggle and for those who struggled,” he said.

The prime minister said his government fully shared “the concerns and sentiments” raised by MPs regarding the welfare of Sri Lankan Tamils and stressed that their resettlement and rehabilitation has been of “the highest and most immediate priority for our government”.

Alluding to the resolution that deals with alleged human rights violations during the protracted conflict in Sri Lanka, Manmohan Singh said India has conveyed to the Sri Lankan government “the importance of a genuine process of reconciliation to address the grievances of the Tamil community”.

“In this connection, we have called for implementation of the recommendations contained in the report of the Commission appointed by Sri Lankan government that has been tabled before the Sri Lankan Parliament. These include various constructive measures for healing the wounds of the conflict and fostering the process of lasting peace and reconciliation in Sri Lanka.”

Manmohan Singh also exhorted Colombo “to act decisively and with vision” to puruse a political process through a broader dialogue with all parties, including the Tamil National Alliance. The dialogue, he stressed, should lead to the full implementation of the 13th Amendment to the Sri Lankan Constitution so as to achieve meaningful devolution of power and genuine national reconciliation.

“We will remain engaged with them through this process and encourage them to take forward the dialogue with the elected representatives of Sri Lankan Tamils,” he said.

The Indian government is under intense domestic pressure to vote against Sri Lanka for the “war crimes” committed against the Tamils during the end of the civil war.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee had earlier said the Indian government normally does not vote on a country-specific resolution. This had angered the DMK, which threatened to quit the central government.

The Geneva vote, which has created a major diplomatic crisis for Sri Lanka, is scheduled for Friday.

The allegations of “war crimes” against Sri Lanka and the resolution sparked an uproar in parliament last week, with DMK and AIADMK asking the Indian government to vote against Sri Lanka on the resolution.

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