UK, Canada, NZ block Lanka’s bid to host C’wealth summit
By Leon Berenger

Three leading Commonwealth countries – the United Kingdom, Canada and New Zealand – have succeeded in blocking Sri Lanka from hosting next year’s Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM).

This comes despite claims last week by Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama that Sri Lanka had launched a counter-offensive to the anti-Sri Lanka campaign. However, the Foreign Minister said he was confident Colombo would host the 2011 Commonwealth summit. He told the Sunday Times that Sri Lanka’s failure in its bid to host the summit was not a setback.

Britain, Canada and New Zealand had strongly objected to making Colombo the venue for the 2010 summit, citing the case of thousands of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in camps in the North and East.

Until Britain’s intervention, Sri Lanka was in a strong position to host the next Commonwealth summit, having the backing of the majority of the 53-member group.

Earlier, the British Prime Minister’s office was quoted as saying that London had real concerns about Sri Lanka’s bid to host the summit, saying the government’s actions earlier this year had resulted in thousands of civilians being displaced and denied access to humanitarian relief efforts.

A spokesperson for the British High Commission in Colombo said the British government’s position on civilian issues was the same for all countries, including Sri Lanka.

At the last CHOGM summit, held in Port of Spain, Trinidad, the participating heads of state unanimously chose Australia as the venue for the 2011 summit, and agreed to consider Sri Lanka for the 2013 summit.

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