| by Pearl Thevanayagam
(February 23, London, Sri Lanka Guardian) Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd’s sudden resignation today is bound to send jitters to the government since he stopped short of calling for international intervention into war crimes. Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner to Australia, Thisara Samarasinghe was very pleased with Rudd’s suppport for the Sri Lankan government on this matter when only a week ago he responded favourably to the LLRC report.
|Kevin Rudd has announced his resignation as the Australian foreign minister. Photograph: Charles Platiau/Reuters|
He was scheduled to speak at the special sessions on February 27 along with External Affairs Minister Prof. G.L.Peiris.
However while he said the report contained some constructive proposals he was in agreement
with other western governments that it did not fully address persistent allegations that both sides committed war crimes. In effect he stopped short of pledging his government’s support for an international probe.
The foreign minister called on Sri Lanka to further investigate the allegations but stopped short of adding Australia’s voice to demands for an international probe. He only requested Sri Lanka to give a definite time-frame to implement recommendations of the LLRC report which was released in December 2011.
There was strong opposition to Mr Samarasinghe’s appointment as High Commissioner since he was complicit in conducting military offensive against the LTTE during his 37 years in the military before he was made Navy Commander in 2009.
Rudd’s resignation came amidst allegations of persistent clashes with Prime Minister Julia Gillard who defeated Rudd in the June 2010 general elections and who won with a wafer-thin majority and formed her government with independent candidates.
Now that Rudd has resigned Australia’s stance vis-a-vis Sri Lanka at the UNHRC special sessions in Geneva will very much depend on his replacement.
(The writer is Asia Pacific Journalism Fellow at UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, California and a print journalist for 21 years. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)