Colombo: Defiant in the face of pressure over alleged rights violations during the war against the LTTE, President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Saturday rejected British Prime Minister David Cameron's warning of an international inquiry and said Sri Lanka must be trusted to conduct its own probe.
"It is his view. This is a democracy. He can say whatever he wants. People living in glass houses must not throw stone at others," Rajapaksa told a news conference on the sidelines of the CHOGM summit hours after Cameron gave Sri Lanka an ultimatum to address the allegations of war crimes by March.
He said Sri Lanka must be allowed to complete its own investigation in its own time. Responding to a question on whether Cameron was mounting pressure on Sri Lanka, Rajapaksa said, "Pressure wont do anything. It's much better to wait rather than demand or dictate."
He added, "They have to trust us. Why can't you trust us. We have eminent people in Sri Lanka who are very independent." After a historic visit to war-ravaged Jaffna, the first by a foreign head of government since the island's independence from Britain in 1948, Cameron this morning gave an ultimatum
to Sri Lanka to conduct a credible probe into the war crimes by March, failing which he would seek an international investigation.
Cameron told a media interaction that he had raised the issue during a meeting with Rajapaksa last night. "I told President Rajapaksa that there is need for a
credible, transparent and independent internal inquiry into the events at the end of the war (against LTTE) by the end of March. If that does not happen, I will use our position in the UN Security Council to move the UN Human Rights Commission and work with the Rights Commissioner for an independent inquiry,"
He said they had a "free and frank" discussion on all issues, including an independent credible probe, reconciliation and rehabilitation of Tamils.
During his news conference, Rajapaksa referred to the actions of some countries in the name of regime change and the situation thereafter, an apparent reference to Britain's role in removing the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq.
But when he was asked by a British journalist whether he was referring to Cameron, he shot back: "I have not taken any names. Don't take anything as a reference to you or to your PM. Please, that is why I didn't mention any names."
"It was a 30-year war and there were so many issues. It takes time," he said. If there are any allegations, Sri Lanka was ready to inquire into them, he added. Rajapaksa described his meeting with the British premier as "very cordial and friendly".
While Sri Lanka had hoped the summit would showcase its return to normalcy since troops crushed the Tamil Tigers in 2009, Cameron's visit to Jaffna and boycotts of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting by the Prime Ministers of Canada and Mauritius have shifted the focus to the alleged rights violations.