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altOctober 30 - Hambantota's bid to host the 2018 Commonwealth Games has received a boost after leaders at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Perth confirmed Sri Lanka will host its next summit in 2013 despite the country being accused of committing atrocities during the civil war.

The three-day 2011 CHOGM in Perth, which was attended by the Queen, drew to a close today after being dominated by the issue of Sri Lanka's human rights record.

Sri Lankan Government forces are accused of committing atrocities against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) following their final push that defeated the separatists in 2009 following the 26-year-long civil war in the country.

The accusations say that the military killed tens of thousands of civilians leading to calls that Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa (pictured) should be put on trial for war crimes and that the country should be expelled from the Commonwealth.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper launched an attempt to spark a major debate on the issue in Perth in an attempt to convince leaders to boycott the summit if held in Sri Lanka in 2013 unless Sri Lanka addresses the concerns properly.

But his attempt failed with Sri Lanka now guaranteed to host the event in the country in two years' time as planned after the decision was unanimously agreed on by the leaders in Perth.

Crucially for Hambantota's 2018 Commonwealth Games bid, it means that the Sri Lankan city no longer faces the danger of being removed for the Commonwealth and therefore being forced to pull out of the bid race with less than a month to go before the vote takes place.

Hambantota is bidding against the Gold Coast in Australia for the right to stage the 2018 event with the 71 Commonwealth nations and territories set to gather at the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) General Assembly in St Kitts and Nevis on November 11 to decide on where the event is held.

Rajapaksa has been attending the Summit in Perth and as well as defending his country against the accusations and, telling Commonwealth leaders "not to listen to the propagandists", he has also been promoting Hambantota's bid.

altAfter the close of the Perth summit, Sri Lankan External Affairs Minister Gamini Lakshman Peiris (pictured) tried to combat the publicity about the human rights allegations.

"This is all propaganda against the Government of Sri Lanka," he said.

"There is really strong propaganda in this country [Australia] and several other countries.

"But the reality of the situation is this: Sri Lanka in all fairness has to be given credit for its legitimate accomplishments."

Sri Lanka has told critics to reserve judgment until it releases an internal report on alleged atrocities in the final stages of the 25-year-long civil war which ended in 2009.

But not everyone was happy.

"It is an absolute disgrace that Commonwealth leaders have agreed to hold their next meeting in Sri Lanka in spite of its appalling human rights record," Amnesty International's national director Claire Mallinson said.

 

Source: www.insidethegames.biz

By Tom Degun