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Lord Naseby wants to bow out as ‘he is too old for the job’.

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Lord Naseby says that he is planning to step down as Chairman, All Party Parliamentary Group for Sri Lanka (APPG–SL), as "he is now too old for the job".

At the last AGM of the Group, he announced to colleagues that he would be standing down. A new rule will also come into place from 2015 that the Chairman must be in the Commons.

Lord Naseby said that he started the All Party British Sri Lanka Group in 1975 and was elected by his colleagues as Chairman because he had worked in Sri Lanka and met some of the leading politicians of the day, including TULF leader, A. Amirthalingam, Anandatissa de Alwis, J. R. Jayewardene and R. Premadasa. "Unfortunately, two of these leaders were murdered by the Tamil Tigers," he said.

He said that the primary function of any All Party Country Group particularly for Commonwealth countries functioning under the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association is not to serve the Diaspora in the UK, but to help diplomats of democratically elected governments to present their case for the betterment of their country to the British Government and their trading, commercial, financial and cultural partners in the UK.

"We do this by receiving briefings across the political spectrum, hopefully making reasonably frequent visits to the country and meeting visitors from the country concerned. We specifically do not interfere in the internal politics of any country," Lord Naseby said in an exclusive interview with Sri Express.    

"We do maintain a political balance. Over the years, we worked well with everyone from Sri Lanka until the war with LTTE and the attempt to set up a separate state of Eelam", he recalled.

"It was sad that the Eelam supporters managed to persuade certain MPs to create a separate All Party Group for Tamils, which should never have been allowed and seemed to have UK electoral considerations behind it. There is a parallel with the Anglo Irish group who never had to cope with a pro-IRA group," Lord Naseby said.

"Our Group still tries to involve the Tamil interest when it is relevant. When President Sirisena came to Westminster recently to meet the All Party group members, I invited the Chairman and through him all the members of APPG Tamil group to join us. Sadly, they did not respond", he noted.

He said that some pro-LTTE Tamil groups want him to leave APPG – SL completely but that would not happen. "As for saying ‘goodbye’ to the All party Group, the answer is certainly no. There is no other member in either House who has lived through 50 years of close friendship with Sri Lanka as I have. My commitment is to all the people of Sri Lanka regardless of ethnicity, religion or political persuasion".

Lord Naseby said he called on President Sirisena in Sri Lanka in February and pledged the support of the Group for the policies he and his MPs are following. "However, the red line for me and my colleagues is that we do not support the concept of Eelam in any form".

"We do want to see reconciliation and welcome all that is happening today. However, I understand that an ‘Eelam type’ rally has been organized in London next Monday with the rallying emotive words like ‘structural genocide against the Tamil Nation’ My question is how does this help reconciliation?", he queried.

by Sujeeva Nivunhella in London


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