Sri Lanka: Canada holding Commonwealth to ransom
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Sri Lanka: Canada holding Commonwealth to ransom

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — Sri Lanka has accused Canada of using its funding of the Commonwealth as a political tool by suspending its $10 million annual contribution while Sri Lanka chairs the group’s secretariat.

Canada, a leading funder of the 53-member Commonwealth of former British colonies, said it will redirect its contribution to programs that promote the group’s values because of concerns over Sri Lanka’s human rights record.

Sri Lanka’s Foreign Ministry accused Canada on Tuesday of taking the step based on “political compulsions, thereby holding the membership of the wider Commonwealth to ransom.”

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper boycotted last year’s Commonwealth Heads of Governments Meeting hosted by Sri Lanka and urged an independent investigation of rights violations during the final stages of the country’s decades-long civil war with Tamil Tiger rebels.