British minister in Sri Lanka to discuss political solution

July 15th, 2008 - 2:28 pm ICT by IANS  

By P. Karunakharan
Colombo, July 15 (IANS) British Foreign Office Minister for Africa, Asia and the UN, Lord Malloch Brown, arrived in Colombo Tuesday on a three-day official visit during which he is scheduled to discuss issues relating to a political solution to the ethnic conflict and human rights issues with Sri Lankan leaders. The British High Commission here said Minister Brown would be meeting a range of politicians from the government and opposition, civil society organisations and community and religious leaders.

“The minister will discuss the human rights situation in Sri Lanka, in particular ways of strengthening the mechanisms for monitoring and investigating allegations of human rights abuses, such as the Human Rights Commission and the Commission of Inquiry,” the High Commission said.

The British minister is also scheduled to hold talks with recently elected representatives of the maiden eastern provincial council to “encourage implementation of the 13th amendment to the constitution in the east as a step towards establishing a sustainable democracy there”.

“Brown will use his visit to support the development of processes that contribute to a potential political settlement to the conflict. He will discuss the progress of the All Party Representative Committee (APRC) with the government and the implementation of their interim recommendations,” it said,

The APRC was set up in 2006 by President Mahinda Rajapaksa and was tasked to suggest an appropriate system of devolution to solve the bloody ethnic conflict.

It has already recommended that the government should first fully implement the devolution of powers contained in the 13th amendment to the constitution, which was introduced following the now defunct Indo-Lanka Accord of 1987, and hold talks about devolving powers to the existing provincial councils.

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