Malta to host next Commonwealth summit: Sharma

Malta to host next Commonwealth summit: Sharma
Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse (L) and the Secretary General of the Commonwealth Kamalesh Sharma (R) speak with an unidentified official before a working session at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Colombo on November 16, 2013. A Commonwealth summit meant to showcase post-war Sri Lanka began November 15 in Colombo but faced being upstaged by an historic visit to its northern killing fields by Britain's David Cameron.

COLOMBO - Malta is to host the next Commonwealth summit after Mauritius pulled out in protest over the decision to hold this year's gathering in Sri Lanka, the organisation said Sunday.

"The prime minister of Malta has invited the Commonwealth to hold CHOGM (Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting) 2015, with Malta as the venue," Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma said at the end of the summit in Colombo.

"It (the offer) was received by all members with acclamation," Sharma told reporters.

Mauritius had been due to stage the biennial gathering in 2015 but its Prime Minister Navin Chandra Ramgoolam announced just ahead of the Colombo gathering that it no longer wanted to play the role of hosts, citing Sri Lanka's human rights record.

"I have made it perfectly clear that human rights are more important than hosting a Commonwealth summit, regardless of its importance," Ramgoolam, who boycotted the Colombo summit, told lawmakers.

The leaders of India and Canada also stayed away from this year's summit after allegations of war crimes committed by Sri Lankan government forces at the end of the country's 37-year ethnic conflict.

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