The Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa skipped the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow today, AFP reported citing the presidential office, as protests against his attendance and chairmanship of the Commonwealth are scheduled to take place.
However, the president's spokesperson, Mohan Samaranayake, later denied that his non-attendance was due to protests.
"No such visit was scheduled," Samaranayake told AFP.
Canada recently withdrew its funding of the Commonwealth, over Rajapaksa's position as chair of the Commonwealth following Sri Lanka's hosting of the Commonwealth Heads of Government summit last November.
The decision to host the summit in Colombo, despite the mass killing of tens of thousands of Tamils by state security forces as well as on-going violations of human rights, received widespread international criticism.
Rajapaksa's previous visits to the UK, have been overshadowed by mass protests by British Tamils.
See related articles:
|8000 Tamils protest at Rajapaksa's lunch with Queen (06 Jun 2012)|
|Protests outside Park Lane Hilton at Rajapaksa's stay (05 Jun 2012)|
|Hundreds protest at LHR, Rajapaksa's arrival unconfirmed (04 Jun 2012)|
|Protest at Commonwealth Secretariat over Rajapaksa visit (01 Jun 2012)|
|Protest over Rajapaksa’s visit to the UK (27 May 2012)|