By Colombo Telegraph –
In an exacerbation of tension between the Ministry of External Affairs and politically appointed ambassadors and heads of mission, former Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva, Tamara Kunanayakam has been refused travel reimbursement and other costs that would enable her to continue to function as a member of a UN committee even after she takes up her new appointment as Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to Havana, Colombo Telegraph exclusively learns.
The Ministry of External Affairs has turned down a request by Kunanayakam, after she requested that the Ministry absorb her travel costs from Havana to Geneva to attend committee sessions even after she takes up her new post.
In May this year, Ambassador Kunanayakam was elected Chairperson/Rapporteur of the UN Human Rights Council Working Group on the Right to Development and also served as Vice Chair representing the Asia Group of the Trade and Development Board (TDB) of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. It is unclear whether either of these are ex officio positions for Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva.
Colombo Telegraph learns that the Ministry has sought clarification in the matter from her successor Ambassador Ravinatha Ariyasinha who arrived in Geneva last Friday (20). Ariyasinha has recommended that Kunanayakam attend in her personal capacity but the Ministry has refused to meet her expenses towards that end.
Meanwhile, diplomatic sources in Geneva said that Ambassador Ariyasinha is presently being provided accommodation in a Geneva hotel after Kunanayakam has decided to remain in her official residence until the conclusion of her leave on July 24. Ariyasinha’s family has stayed behind at his previous station, Brussels until the residence is vacated by his predecessor. A weekend newspaper in Colombo reported that Kunanayakam had failed to leave the residence keys behind for Ariyasinha forcing him to stay in a hotel in the city.