ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s participation in United Nations (UN) peacekeeping and peace enforcement operations must not be weakened, the United National Party (UNP) said.
In a statement issued this afternoon, the party said 2015-2019 UNP-led Yahapalana government decided to participate in these missions as part of a higher profile foreign policy.
“An army battalion, with MI-17 helicopters, was dispatched to Mali as part of the UN contingent facing Al-Qaeda affiliated terrorists,” it said.
“The UNP is of the view that these operations should not be in anyway weakened as there is scope for further involvement in future contingents,” it added.
The UNP also cautioned against purchasing helicopters given the prevailing situation with regard to COVID-19 and the need for additional financial resources.
Last week, Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa claimed that plans were underway to purchase four Mi-171 helicopters from Russia at a total cost of USD 72 million.
“The purchase of the helicopters should only be made utilising the Russian Export Credit Line for Arms Purchases with a grace period and long-term repayment,” the party said.
The UNP also called for addressing concerns raised about Sri Lanka’s domestic human rights record as raised by the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC).
“If we are to continue our involvement and increase our numbers in these missions, the government must address the human rights concerns in the UNHRC,” it said. (Colombo/May06/2021)