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UNP expresses ‘serious concern’ over government u-turn on presidential commission

The UNP accused the Sri Lankan government of pandering to the international community in performing an u-turn in regards to the domestic commission investigate missing people, and the recent appointment of international experts to provide advice to it.

The opposition party charged that the government previously maintained that the Sri Lankan Army did not commit war crimes and that now the UPFA government seemed to be concurring with the view of the international community that war crimes should be investigated, reported the Colombo Gazette.

“Since the military defeat of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), over five years ago, the UPFA Government has consistently maintained that no war crime probes were necessary since Sri Lankan troops have not committed any of them. This position has been enunciated at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva and locally at different occasions,

"Addressing the nation on Victory Day, President Rajapaksa has repeatedly re-iterated that the troops fought with the UN Human Rights Charter on one hand and a gun on the other. At last year’s elections to Southern and Western Provincial Councils, he exhorted from public platforms that he would rather face the ‘electric chair’ than betray the troops of Sri Lanka,” the UNP said.

The UNP demanded that President Mahinda Rajapaksa and the government reveal to the public why this 'major policy shift' was done in secret.

Rajapaksa last week invited three international experts to the country's domestic disappearances commission, amid increasing international pressure over mass atrocities committed against Tamils in the final stages of the armed conflict.

Despite the appointment however, the government's spokesperson, Keheliya Rambukwella appeared keen to emphasise that the government retained the right to accept or reject the experts' findings.

The main Tamil party, the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) rejected the appointment of the experts, stating that it had "no faith" in the commission.

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