Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa addressing the 68th United Nations general assembly at UN headquarters in New York. (AFP photo)
With some countries like Britain and Canada seeking to bring human rights violations in the Sri Lankan war against LTTE under the scanner during the CHOGM summit, Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Friday asked member nations not to turn the Commonwealth into a "punitive and judgemental" body and desist from introducing bilateral agendas.
Welcoming heads of government and foreign ministers to the 22nd CHOGM summit, Rajapaksa made yet another combative speech on his country's success in the battle against "30 years of terror" and return of "peace" in the island and appealed for a constructive engagement in the Commonwealth on issues like economic growth and eradication of poverty.
"Make the Commonwealth a truly unique organisation for engaging in collaborative unity rather than indulging in prescriptive and divisive ways," he said in his opening remarks to the summit of the 53-member grouping.
India is represented by external affairs minister Salman Khurshid after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called off his plans in the wake of stiff opposition from political parties in Tamil Nadu.
Khurshid and British Prime Minister David Cameron, who has planned a visit to the Northern Jaffna province and has some tough questions on human rights issues to put to Rajapaksa, were present on the dais to hear him at the opening ceremony.
Deepak Obhrai, parliamentary secretary and representative of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Arun Bullel, foreign minister of Mauritius were also present.
Both Harper and Mauritius Prime Minister Navin Chandra Ramgoolam, who will be hosting the next summit in his country, decided to boycott the summit citing the poor human rights record of Sri Lanka.