Categorized | National News

Reports Of CHOGM Boycott Untrue, Says Mitchell

Foreign Affairs Minister Fred Mitchell dismissed reports yesterday that several countries were boycotting this year’s Commonwealth Heads of Government Meetings (CHOGM) in Sri Lanka in protest of the country’s alleged human rights abuses.

Mr. Mitchell is a part of The Bahamas’ delegation attending those meetings.

Prime Minister Perry Christie arrived in Sri Lanka yesterday – a day before the summit opens.

In the lead up to CHOGM, several countries have condemned the practices of the Sri Lankan government with several leaders pledging to verbally reprimand the country’s leadership during their addresses.

However, Mr. Mitchell said there is full representation at those meetings and talk of a boycott he added is false.

“There is no boycott of this meeting,” Mr. Mitchell said. “Both Canada and India are here at CHOGM. It’s just that the heads of government of those countries are not here and they have various reasons for that which do not apply to The Bahamas. We do not see this as an ideological battle. We are engaged in the commonwealth in supporting its values.”

Mr. Mitchell said The Bahamas’ position on human rights has been clearly stated and he said the country will support the view of the wider commonwealth community, though he also praised Sri Lanka for the progress the country has made post its civil war.

“This country which we are in has just come through a very difficult war. They are three years out of it and development seems to be going quite well. Whatever the consensus is on the human rights issues within the context of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas Government will support.

Mr. Mitchell said the focus of the meetings will centre mainly on growing the various economies of the commonwealth which he said carries significant meaning for small island nations like The Bahamas.

“All countries are interested in private-public partnerships,” he said, “how you approach the international financial institutions for financing at concessionary rates. Countries in the Caribbean all suffer from this question of using the GDP per capita as a measure for determining concessionary lending.

“So we’re trying to beat the drums to get this message across that there needs to be significant change if our societies are going to develop and if our economies are going to develop and try and get employment going with particular focus on young people.”

From CHOGM, the prime minister and his delegation will head to Rome for an audience with Pope Frances.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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