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Lanka dealing with war allegations,says Rajapakse

Perth, Oct 27  () : The Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse says his government is working to repair the divisions caused by the recent civil war. He claims that many former combatants have been released and reintegrated into the community.

“We await the submission next month of the report of the Lessons Learned and Reconciliation Commission – a home grown institution which I appointed to help leave behind us the pain and anguish of the past and guide the nation towards the era of peace and prosperity,” he said.

But there is growing international pressure on Sri Lanka to thoroughly investigate allegations of human rights abuses by the country’s army.

Rajapakse says he is also looking forward to welcoming delegates to the next Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), which will be hosted in Sri Lanka, despite calls for it to be boycotted. Sri Lanka is due to host the meeting in 2013, but some countries are threatening to boycott it because of allegations of human rights abuses.

Rajapakse has used this year’s gathering in Perth to invite delegates to attend the next meeting. “Come to Sri Lanka in 2013 when the next CHOGM will be held in Colombo,” he said. “I firmly believe that it will be a memorable experience for you.”

Sri Lanka’s government on Thursday, in its usual stance, sought to dismiss war crimes allegations as propaganda from its defeated rivals, as it came under further pressure ahead of a Commonwealth summit. Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard raised the issue with Rajapakse during talks in Perth on Wednesday, and it is expected to be high on the agenda during the three-day Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM).

“This is hearsay. These are mere allegations… we have ended 30 years of terror,” spokesman Bandula Jayasekera said.

Amnesty International chief Salil Shetty criticised Commonwealth nations for allowing Sri Lanka to have hosting rights with the war crimes issue unresolved. “Allowing Sri Lanka to head the Commonwealth runs contrary to these values and threatens to derail the organisation’s commitment to human rights.”