Sri Lanka’s plantations minister and the presidential special envoy Mahinda Samarasinghe is reportedly having difficulty getting himself included in the Sri Lanka delegation to Geneva in March after a WikiLeaks cable published on Colombo Telegraph revealed that the Minister had blamed the Rajapaksa brothers for the country’s human rights problems, government sources have revealed.
Samarasinghe who is busy attempting to organise a local media delegation is yet to be assured of his spot on the Lankan delegation, having lost his clout somewhat as Sri Lanka’s main focal point on human rights.
However the sources said that the Minister’s popularity in Kalutara, a key district in the western provincial polls battle also due in March may swing things Samarasinghe’s way at least for the March session of the UNHRC.
Last year, Samarasinghe was sent to address the high level session of the Council in March but his blistering speech attacking UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay became a major embarrassment for the Government delegation afterwards when other member states began to defend Pillay against attacks by Sri Lanka. The delegation was led by Ambassador Ravinatha Ariyasinha after the high level meetings and saw a major shift in tenor with Sri Lanka making attempts to engage and convince rather than go on the offensive against the Council and its head.
Senior officials in the Rajapaksa administration are reportedly irked by Samarasinghe’s comments to the US embassy in Colombo that the ruling brothers were calling all the shots onnthe human rights and accountability fronts.