clash over top UN post
By Ayesha R. Rafiq
The controversy surrounding Sri Lanka's nominee for a prestigious
UN post -- the special rapporteur for the independence of judges
and lawyers -- took a new twist with a row in cabinet over whom
they should support.
After a heated
debate, and the cabinet unable to resolve the issue, Prime Minister
Ranil Wickremesinghe will now sit down with Foreign Minister Tyronne
Fernando to decide on how to handle the matter.
The move comes
in the wake of the UNF government nominating two candidates -- former
(1970-77) Justice Ministry secretary Nihal Jayawickrama and former
Bar Association president Desmond Fernando for the job.
Mahinda Samarasinghe had raised the issue of Sri Lanka nominating
two persons for the UN post following press reports on the confusion
that had arisen and the difficulty ambassador Prasad Kariyawasam
in Geneva had been placed in.
Kariyawasam is vice chairman of the extended bureau of the UN High
Commission for Human Rights, which picks the UN special rapporteur
after an elaborate selection process.
who is also president of the Inter-Parliamentary Union Human Rights
Committee said that as the cabinet could not resolve the issue,
Education Minister Karunasena Kodituwakku suggested the matter be
resolved by the Premier and the Foreign Minister.
told The Sunday Times the cabinet seemed to favour the nomination
of Desmond Fernando, whose candidature is being backed by the International
Bar Association (IBA) of which he was a one-time president.
Fernando, however, told The Sunday Times that the Prime Minister
had yet to speak to him on the matter and as far as he was concerned,
both nominations would go to Geneva and both candidates "will
have to run their own race".
had last week forwarded his application for the post to the Foreign
Ministry and it has been received by Mr. Kariyawasam.