Lanka denies general’s exclusion from UN panel

COLOMBO - The controversy around Sri Lanka’s deputy ambassador to the United Nations, Major-General Shavendra Silva, has intensified with the Lankan government denying claims that the former army general has been dropped from the UN peacekeeping panel.

By Qadijah Irshad

Published: Sun 26 Feb 2012, 1:04 AM

Last updated: Fri 3 Apr 2015, 10:59 AM

The Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka to the UN in New York on Thursday dismissed news reports that General Silva has been barred from the advisory panel on peacekeeping. The Colombo External Affairs Ministry Director-General Sarath Dissanayake confirmed that General Silva is still attending meetings of the advisory panel to UN Chief Ban Ki-moon.

According to the Lankan mission, the attempt to oust the country’s envoy is being solely pushed by the Chair of the Senior Advisory Group, Madame Louise Fréchette.

On Tuesday, Fréchette, a former UN deputy undersecretary-general, who was earlier sacked for her role in the Iraq food for oil scandal, had brusquely informed General Silva that she will not let him enter the room where the discussions of the Senior Advisory Group were being held. She had further claimed that she would get him removed from the room if he insisted on coming in, an act beyond her jurisdiction, according to a Permanent Mission statement. The statement clarified that General Silva continues to participate in the UN Peacekeeping panel sittings. Fréchette has been quoted as saying: “You may have been nominated by the Asia Pacific Group, but I will decide whether you participate or not.” The Lankan government states that “such an intolerant and superior attitude is fundamentally unacceptable in an organisation which is representative of the entire international community.”

The government has also accused Fréchette of lobbying among other members individually to exclude Ambassador Silva, “an act totally inconsistent with her role as Chair.”

UN Human Rights Chief Navenethem Pillay had earlier raised concerns about General Silva’s appointment as he had commanded the Sri Lankan army’s 58th Division during the final assault against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in 2009 and could be implicated in war crime charges should the Lankan government and the LTTE be ever convicted of crimes against humanity.

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