Ban voices concern to Sri Lankan leader over recent developments

10 February 2010

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has expressed his concerns about recent developments in Sri Lanka, where a defeated presidential candidate has been arrested and Parliament dissolved, to the leader of the South Asian country and announced plans to dispatch his top political official to the island nation for further dialogue.

Mr. Ban spoke by telephone last night with Mahinda Rajapaksa, according to a spokesperson for the Secretary-General, and urged the President to respect due process of law regarding the case of General Sarath Fonseka, the former army chief and runner-up in recent presidential elections.

Mr. Ban called on the Government in Colombo to guarantee the personal safety of Mr. Fonseka, who was arrested on Monday for alleged "military offences." Mr. Fonseka won about 40 per cent of the overall vote in the presidential race on 27 January.

The spokesperson said the Secretary-General also urged Mr. Rajapaksa to keep his commitment, set out in a joint statement with the UN last year, "to ensure concrete proposals for a political solution of issues with the Tamil community in the north and to ensure full accountability for any crimes against international humanitarian law or abuses of human rights."

In May last year Government forces in Sri Lanka defeated the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), ending a civil war that had lasted more than two decades. Hundreds of thousands of displaced civilians were then housed in camps.

Mr. Ban "took note of the progress in returning displaced persons to their places of origin, but added that more needs to be done in this regard."

Saying he looked forward to further dialogue between the UN and the Sri Lankan Government, Mr. Ban said he would send Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs B. Lynn Pascoe to Colombo for talks soon after the presidential inauguration scheduled for later this month.

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Sri Lanka: UN chief urges due process for arrested opposition leader

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called on authorities in Sri Lanka to ensure the rights and safety of the defeated presidential candidate and former army chief who was arrested yesterday, and said he intends to speak to the country’s President Mahinda Rajapaksa to discuss the issue.