ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lankan ruling MP Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) elected on Tuesday 23rd, said he would take office as ambassador to the United States effective next week.
“President Gotabaya Rajapaksa asked me to accept the post of Ambassador to the United States. I have accepted, ”Samarasinghe told Parliament.
“I expect to step down from parliament in two or three days and fly to the US on Friday 29, with the US becoming a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) with a huge lead. The US will begin its membership on January 1st. “
Samarasinghe’s decision to take up the diplomatic post comes from the fact that under President Rajapaksa, Sri Lanka is trying to balance a foreign policy that is perceived as friendly to China. Western nations including the US have urged the Rajapaksa government to resolve alleged past human rights violations by the UNHRC.
The human rights organization has taken a tough stance on Sri Lanka regarding past human rights violations. Samarasinghe said his appointment was to strengthen Sri Lanka’s ties with the US amid challenging allegations and calls by the UNHRC for an investigation
The UN General Assembly elected the US to the Geneva UNHRC last month, more than three years after the Trump administration left the 47-member body due to chronic biases against Israel and a lack of reform.
“From 10 years of experience in dealing with the UNHRC, I can say that when the US becomes a member, the US will take on a leadership role. So I see it as essential to build good relationships and mutual understanding with the United States, ”said Samarasinghe.
“President Rajapaksa also believes that we need to build a strong relationship with the United States, not just for economic reasons, but also for political reasons. I will achieve this goal.
“I’m not leaving politics. I go at the President’s request. Let me remind you that when I return, I will give political leadership to the people of Kalutara district after serving the motherland, ”he said, referring to his constituency.
Samarasinghe was elected from the western coastal district of Kalutara of the island state in the 2020 parliamentary elections. Of the eight representatives of the SLPP elected to parliament, he received the least preferred votes.
Kalutara District SLPP candidate Wadduwage Manju Lalith Varna Kumara is Samarasinghe’s next successor, a party source said.
Samarasinghe had a three-month vacation from parliament this year, which was approved by the legislature.
Before entering politics, he was a Politically Appointed Foreign Service Official and served as First Secretary of the Sri Lankan High Commission in Australia and as Advisor to the Sri Lankan Permanent Mission to the United Nations in Geneva in the 1980s.
Samarasinghe entered active politics in 1988 and was elected to parliament in 1994 with a center-right ticket from the United National Party (UNP). In 2006 he switched to the government at the time and joined the center-left Sri Lankan Freedom Party (SLFP).
In his parliamentary career he was Minister for Labor, Disaster Management, Plantations, Skills Development, and Ports and Shipping. As port minister, he signed the China-built US $ 1.5 billion port contract in Hambantota, which is due to be handed over to China in 2018 with a 99-year lease.
Samarasinghe is the third SLPP legislator to step down from parliament since July.
After losing in the 2015 presidential election, he left the Rajapaksa camp and joined former President Maithripala Sirisena. He lost the general election later in 2015, but Sirisena named him on the national list.
Samarasinghe’s name was quoted in 2007 in Wikileaks by the then US ambassador in Colombo Robert Blake.
The telegram said Samarasinghe had expressed concern that then-President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his two brothers – Basil and Gotabaya – had rendered their human rights and humanitarian access efforts ineffective and that he would not sacrifice his political career to ” Part of the white linen ”were the alleged human rights violations of the Sri Lankan government at the time. (Colombia / November 23, 2021)