President’s visit to London: LTTE sympathizers protest at wrong venue


British Prime Minister, David Cameron greets President Maithripala Sirisena in London.

by Sujeeva Nivunhella in London

Pro-LTTE activists in the United Kingdom got it mixed up and protested at the wrong venue in the belief that visiting President Maithripala Sirisena was attending the Anti Corruption meeting at Marlborough House.

This was, in fact, a separate conference initiated by the Commonwealth Secretariat for Non Governmental Organization Group members.

While the LTTE sympathizers were demonstrating, the Sri Lankan leader was addressing the Anti Corruption Summit at Lancaster House in London.

He said the Sri Lankan people defeated the former corrupt regime at the last poll and elected his government democratically.

"We have plans in place to eradicate corruption and it is working. It is my firm determination to root out corruption, and for this, I have also established the anti-corruption secretariat, and appointed a commission to investigate allegations of bribery and corruption", he said.

President Sirisena arrived in London on Wednesday aboard an Emirates flight. He was received by acting High Commissioner Sugeeshwara Gunaratne at the VIP Lounge ‘Windsor Suite’ at Heathrow Airport. On reaching the Park Lane Hilton Hotel, where he stayed, he was welcomed by the staff of the Sri Lanka High Commission.

Before the Summit started, the President was warmly welcomed by British Prime Minister, David Cameron and the two leaders discussed bilateral issues.

"The Anti-Corruption Summit was organized with the aim of creating a world free of corruption", the British Prime Minister said, adding that the presence of President Sirisena for the event is very significant as he is a leader who has implemented many initiatives to eliminate corruption from the country.

Secretary of State for Foreign & Commonwealth Affairs, Philip Hammond also met with the President on the sidelines of the Summit and discussed Sri Lanka’s current political situation.

Minister of State for the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, Hugo Swire received the President when he arrived for the Summit.

Referring to the pro-LTTE protest, founder member of Non-Resident Tamils of Sri Lanka (NRTSL) and former director of Tamil Broadcast Corporation – UK, Veerahia Ramaraj said that the demonstration was organized by the British Tamil Forum and Tamil Youth Organization, UK.

"I spoke to some of these demonstrators and was told that the protest was aimed at focusing attention on their asylum visa applications and it had nothing to do with Sri Lanka’s political issues.", he told The Sunday Island.

"Their visa applications to remain in the UK have been rejected and they used this opportunity to protest against Sri Lanka and draw the attention of the Home Office, claiming that they will not be able to return to the country", Ramaraja said.

He said that it might not work in their favour this time as the present government is not ill-treating former key LTTE activists like KP.

He claimed the demonstration was a failure, with around 100 people activists participating in it though there are more than 300,000 Tamils living in the UK.

President stayed only one day in London and left for India aboard an Emirates flight for discussions with Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi.



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