Next month's Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) to be held in Colombo, Sri Lanka, from November 15 to 17, received another blow, on Saturday, when the country's main Tamil party announced that it will boycott the Summit.
"We will not take part in CHOGM. But our staying away does not mean we are protesting against the participating nations. We will be eager to meet them," Mavai Senathirajah, a senior Tamil National Alliance (TNA) legislator said on Saturday.
A decision to this effect was taken on Friday, at the inaugural meeting of the new northern provincial council. At the meeting the TNA resolved that Chief Minister of the Tamil-dominated Northern Province, C V Wigneswaran, must shun the CHOGM.
The country's main opposition party the UNP termed the event as an extravagant exercise and said Sri Lanka could ill afford it.
"It is not a question of our stand if the summit should be hosted or not, but can the country afford it," Tissa Attanayake, the UNP general secretary was reported as saying.
Responding to opposition comments, senior minister John Seneviratne retorted that anyone upsetting the CHOGM will be blocking the country's progress.
Sri Lanka will assume chair of the 54-nation bloc of former colonies of the British Empire for the next two years from Australia.
Allegation of human rights violation during the country's protracted war against Tamil separatists and Sri Lanka's treatment of Tamil minorities have already marred the CHOGM.
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper had said he will not attend the summit citing Sri Lanka's slow progress in human rights and reconciliation after the end of the civil war in 2009.
The Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is also under pressure from Tamil political parties in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu to boycott the CHOGM. Reports, however, say he is yet to take a decision on whether to attend the Summit or not.
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