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Rajapaksa keynote speech cancelled amid fears of Tamil protests

Rajapaksa's keynote speech due to have taken place at a meeting of the Commonwealth Economic Fourm at 10am on Wednesday has been cancelled amid fears of mass Tamil protests, after a series of protests against his UK visit over the past few days.

He will still be attending a lunch with the Queen, at an event arranged by the Commonwealth Secretary General and Marlborough House on Pall Mall.

See here for report by Channel 4 News.

The organisers, Commonwealth Business Council (CBC), stated on its website:

"After careful consideration the morning sessions of the Forum on Wednesday 6th of June have been cancelled and will not take place. The event will therefore commence with lunch at 1300hrs followed by the originally planned afternoon sessions beginning at 1400hrs."

Channel 4 News reports, that a spokesperson for Scotland Yard said that although they continued to guarantee Rajapaksa's safety, the CBC had “decided it was not in their interest to stage the event”, in light of policing requirements already stretched due to Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

The spokesperson for the Commonwealth Secretary General, Richard Uku, told Channel 4 News: 

 “The secretary general invited all heads of government to this lunch and Mr Rajapakse is one of them.  Sri Lanka, unlike Fiji, has not been suspended from the Commonwealth.  This doesn’t take anything away from our commitment to the Commonwealth’s core values, of which human rights is key.”

Tamil protesters have pledged to continue protests regardless of the cancellation, objecting at his very invitation into the UK. Activists have told Tamil Guardian that Tamils across Europe are preparing to join British Tamils at a protest event on Wednesday morning.

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