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Tourism-related properties booming

Mar 11 (Bernama) Demand for tourist accommodation is on the rise in Sri Lanka as the number of tourists arrivals on the island surges, offering greater opportunities in the construction of tourism-related sectors. A total of 231 tourist hotels were in operation in December 2003 with 13,858 rooms that could only cater to about 700,000 visitors a year. more..

"Battle of the Blues" takes centre stage

Mar 11 (Reuters) A neck-and-neck election race, a dangerous split in the Tamil Tiger rebels and a peace process hanging in the balance. All this is high drama to an outside observer, but for Sri Lankans the buzz in the streets on Thursday was not the fate of peace efforts or the shape of the future government, but a high-school cricket match. more..

Renegade rebel commander may meet Tiger leader

Mar 11 (AP) A renegade guerrilla commander said Thursday he would meet with the head of Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger rebels if the Tigers allow his breakaway group to exist separately. Vinayagamoorthi Muralitharan "is not averse to such a meeting," said his spokesman, Varathan. more..

Breakaway rebels prepare for fight with Tamil Tigers

Mar 11 (Bloomberg) Tamil Tiger chief Velupillai Prabhakaran has ordered his troops to prepare for battle with a rebel splinter group, a spokesman for the breakaway group's leader said. "We are picking up that Prabhakaran has ordered some troops to come to our borders and we're ready for this," Varathan said more..

Recognition will come to Karuna, says spokesman

Mar 11 (HT) The rebel eastern commander of the LTTE, Col Karuna, is confident that the international community will recognise him and negotiate with him once he proves to them that it is his writ, and not Prabhakaran's, which runs in Batticaloa-Amparai (BA). more..

Indo-Sri Lanka trade: Hype and reality

Mar 11 (AT) Since independence in 1947, India and Sri Lanka, two neighboring countries in South Asia, have concluded three major treaties: the Sirimavo-Shastri Pact (1964), the Indo-Sri Lanka Peace Accord and the Indo-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement (ISFTA, 1998). more..

Sri Lanka govt plays down threats from rebel split

Mar 11 (Reuters) Sri Lanka's government on Thursday played down the effect a split among Tamil Tiger rebels may have on the peace process, saying the important thing was all sides remained committed to a truce that has lasted two years. more..

Record number of “independents” stand in election

Mar 11 (wsws) A significant feature of the snap general elections scheduled is the record number of “independent” groups that are standing. While many of these groups are far from independent, their emergence reflects the deep-going alienation felt by broad layers of ordinary working people from official politics, more..

Martyn and Lehmann put Australia in control

Mar 11 (CI) Australia might have had their backs to the wall at the close of the second day, but by stumps on day four their position was as strong as the sturdy 400-year-old Dutch Fort ramparts that ring this Galle Stadium. more..

European Union voices concern over pre-election violence

Mar 11 (AFP) The European Union (EU) on Thursday launched its monitoring mission for Sri Lanka's parliamentary elections by expressing concern over campaign violence that has already claimed two lives. "I am very concerned about the violence and killings that have already taken place during the election campaign," more..

"Election is a referendum on ISGA" - Thilak

Mar 12 (TN) Mr.S.Thilak, Trincomalee district political head of the LTTE said Wednesday that Tamils of the northeast province should consider the April 2 general election as a referendum on the Interim Self Governing Authority (ISGA) proposals and a democratic recognition for the liberation struggle, more..

Karuna cadres burn Tamil dailies

Mar 12 (TN) A group of youths believed to be cadres working for the renegade LTTE commander Karuna Thursday morning seized and burnt about four thousand copies of Thursday edition of a Tamil daily THINAKKURAL and about one thousand copies of another daily VIRAKESARI when they were transported to Batticaloa for sale, police said. more..

McCain's wife to observe mine removal

Mar 12 (AZC) Cindy McCain, wife of U.S. Sen. John McCain, departs today for Sri Lanka in support of an international organization's efforts to remove land mines and unexploded ordnance from past battlefields. She will spend four days in the Indian Ocean island nation observing the work of the HALO Trust, more..

A day when Tillakaratne just couldn't make up his mind

Mar 12 (CI) Sri Lanka's position at the end of the fourth day at Galle was bad, and worse than it might have been, thanks to some confused captaincy. They will almost certainly spend tonight hoping for rain rather than expecting victory. more..

Renegade rebel hardens stance on Tigers

Mar 12 (Reuters) A breakaway Sri Lankan rebel commander -- who has the support of 6,000 fighters -- denounced the Tamil Tigers on Thursday, saying they were no longer the sole representatives of the Tamil people. more..

Political Chessboard

Mar 12 (LBO) Politicians of all hues and sizes have thrown their hat into the ring for next month’s snap poll. But smaller parties championing the Sinhala Buddhist, Tamil and Muslim votes are jostling to play the trump card in Sri Lanka’s next parliament. more..

What A Mess!

Mar 12 (LBO) The PA-JVP led UPFA plans to change the country's economic policy agenda to keep in line with its ideology of a mixed economy, a senior party spokesman said Friday. The UPFA is looking at “A new beginning,” as the Alliance’s General Secretary Susil Premajayantha explains. more..

What Next?

Mar 12 (LBO) With less than three weeks to go to D-day on April 2, the political options of the average Sri Lankan are increasing by the day with more political newbies voicing ever more radical changes to the system. The Parliamentary general election of 2004 will accommodate 24 recognised political parties and 192 independent groups. more..

No. No? No!

Mar 12 (LBO) The Freedom Alliance says it will “stop the privatization of national resources and public institutions and make them to play an important role in the regeneration of the national economy.” The Alliance revealed its economic policies on Thursday in its party manifesto, with high hopes to form a fresh government after the April polls. more..

LTTE ready to help facilitate voting - Thamilchelvan

Mar 12 (TN) "We told the [Norwegian] delegation that we are agreeable to locating the voting booths in the no-man zone, inside our checkpoint area or in the checkpoint area of the Sri Lanka Army, and that we will provide our full support and required assistance to implement voting procedures, and supervise voting," more..

"We solidly support leader Pirapaharan"- Thilak tells Solheim

Mar 12 (TN) "We are solidly supporting the leadership of Mr.V.Pirapaharan. We are against dividing Tamils by north and east", Mr.S.Thilak, Trincomalee district political head of the LTTE Friday categorically told Norwegian special peace envoy Mr. Erik Solheim more..

Central bank leaves key rates steady

Mar 12 (Reuters) The Central Bank of Sri Lanka left its key overnight repurchase and reverse repurchase rates unchanged on Friday, saying the economy has maintained growth momentum despite an approaching election and a drought. more..

Rupee weakens on seasonal import demand

Mar 12 (Reuters) The Sri Lankan rupee closed lower for a fifth day on Friday on what dealers said was seasonal import demand for dollars ahead of local New Year holidays. The rupee closed at a 97.45 from Thursday's close of 97.30 after dipping to an intraday low of 97.65. more..

Protest cripples normalcy

Mar 12 (SLA) A section of supporters of LTTE’s KARUNA staged a protest against LTTE leader PRABHAKARAN in the general area of VELLAVELI, about 8 km west of KALAWANCHIKUDY on 11 March 2004. All schools, shops and banks remained closed and streets deserted. more..

Muslims want OIC back to the station

Mar 12 (SLA) Muslims in the general area of PADIRUPPU town, about 12 km southwest of KALMUNAI on 11 March 2004 staged a protest against the transfer of the Officer In Charge at KALMUNAI Police station. more..

Skeletal remains recovered

Mar 12 (SLA) Troops on duty in the general area of MADUKANDA, had come across a human skeleton and some personal belongings on 10 March 2004 while they were preparing the area to construct a path to their squadron. more..

Explosion inside garbage causes no damage

Mar 12 (SLA) An explosion has occurred in the general area of THOMASPURA, VANKALAI, about 10 km south of MANNAR town on 11 March 2004 around 9.00 p.m. when some civilians set fire to a garbage dump in their compound. Type of the explosive device or how it reached there is yet to be ascertained. more..

Mortar found on railway track

Mar 12 (SLA) A combined team of Policemen and troops on mobile duty in the general area of SINHA KANDA, about 15 km west of TRINCOMALEE town had recovered a 60 mm mortar bomb from the railway track at 173rd Mile Post on 11 March 2004 around 6.30 a.m. more..

Norwegian & German Diplomats Visit Jaffna

Mar 12 (SLA) A high level delegation of German and Norwegian diplomats during a visit to the Jaffna peninsula on Wednesday (10) morning met Security Forces authorities in an attempt to receive an update of the current security situation in the peninsula. more..

SriLankan Airlines offers attractive packages at MATTA 2004

Mar 12 (Bernama) SriLankan Airlines (SriLankan) is offering attractive full board tour packages to Sri Lanka at the 17th MATTA International Travel Fair 2004 (MITF 2004) to be held at the Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC) here from Friday, March 12 to March 14. more..

Presidential Commission to probe the death of popular monk

Mar 12 (PSL) President Chandrika Kumaratunga appointed a three-member commission yesterday, March 11 to inquire into and report on the circumstances that led to the death of Ven. Gangodawila Soma Thero. more..

Our vision is for a peaceful and prosperous society says President

Mar 12 (PSL) President Kumaratunga at the official launch of the Freedom Alliance Manifesto yesterday said the manifesto introduced a five fold vision for the future of our motherland; a new economic order, ensuring law and order, a durable peace with dignity, good governance and a programme of investing in the people". more..

Crisis in LTTE not to impact peace process:UNF

Mar 12 (UNI) Sri Lanka's ruling United National Front (UNF) government today affirmed that the peace process would not be affected by the spiralling crisis in the LTTE since the recent expulsion of a eastern military leader by the rebel outfit. more..

Karen has a teaching challenge in Sri Lanka

Mar 12 (PN) Karen Cornfield from Peebles is currently working on a gap year in Sri Lanka organised by the charity, Project Trust, and she sent us this report on her experiences living and working in the troubled country. MY project is based in the town of Horowpothana. more..

EU blasts Sri Lanka for ignoring electoral reforms

Mar 12 (AP) The European Union blasted the government for failing to reform its electoral system, saying such inaction hampered the island's democracy. "The major recommendations that we made for strengthening the electoral process after both the 2000 and the 2001 election have not been implemented," said John Cushnahan, more..

Break-in at Ravi's office, police told to act firmly

Mar 12 (DM) A Colombo Magistrate yesterday ordered the Welikada police to arrest and produce JVP frontliners Wimal Weerawansa and Vijitha Herath in Court if there was sufficient evidence against them concerning the alleged predawn attack on the Welikada office of Minister Ravi Karunanayake. more..

Blasts jolt Sri Lanka town amid deepening Tiger rift

Mar 12 (AFP) Explosions were heard Thursday from a Tamil Tiger rebel-held area in north-eastern Sri Lanka as government troops remained on alert amid fears of factional fighting, military officials said. more..

SEP replies to an appeal from ruling UNF

Mar 12 (wsws) In the exchange below, Socialist Equality Party (SEP) General Secretary Wije Dias replies to an appeal emailed to the World Socialist Web Site by Milinda Moragoda, a leading candidate for the right-wing UNF in the April 2 elections. more..

Butler and Martin rock Sri Lanka A

Mar 12 (CI) Ian Butler and Chris Martin had a field day with Sri Lanka's batsmen, picking up four wickets each, and reducing the team to 210 for 9 in 75 overs on the first day of the first-class game at Queenstown. more..

No war due to Govt's new thinking, says Prime Minister

Mar 12 (DN) Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said yesterday there were two methods of solving the two major problems in the country. He said finding a lasting solution to the ethnic problem and resuscitating the toppling economy were the two major issues confronting the country. more..

Government change may scuttle Anti-Poverty program

Mar 12 (OW) A possible change of government after the Sri Lankan polls threatens the future of a US $125 million state poverty alleviation program, already mired in politics and allegations of corruption. more..

Vow to scrap Sri Lanka presidency

Mar 12 (BBC) The alliance of President Chandrika Kumaratunga says it will act to scrap the presidency if it wins the general election on 2 April. The United People's Freedom Alliance manifesto wants a new constitution to restore full parliamentary democracy. more..

Warne reaches 500 as Sri Lanka are routed

Mar 12 (CI) Shane Warne's scriptwriter could not have penned his comeback better. Australia, their backs firmly to the wall after the first two days, powered their way back into the opening Test as Warne polished off Sri Lanka's tail in the first innings and Matthew Hayden, the Man of the Match, set Australia on course for a massive lead. more..

Tillakaratne accuses batsmen of throwing match away

Mar 12 (Reuters) Sri Lanka skipper Hashan Tillakaratne accused his batsmen of tamely surrendering to the Australia bowling in the opening test on Friday. Sri Lanka, set an improbable 352 for victory, were bowled out for just 154 in 45.2 overs. more..

India should play active role for peace in Lanka: Vaiko

Mar 12 (NT) MDMK chief Vaiko today said that India should play an active role in bringing peace in the war-ravaged Sri Lanka. This would also protect India's interests in the region, he opined. Vaiko cautioned that if this was not done 'some other forces would take up the issue. more..

LTTE may plan covert operation against Karuna: Experts

Mar 12 (HT) Seasoned LTTE watchers say that Tiger chieftain Velupillai Prabhakaran may go for a covert, suicide commando operation to liquidate his "traitorous" eastern commander Col Karuna, and avoid an overt, large-scale military operation against his group as such. more..

No peace if East is ignored, warns breakaway LTTE faction

Mar 12 (HT) There can be no political solution to the Tamil problem if the international community continues to ignore the grievances of the people of the eastern districts of Sri Lanka, says Varadan, the spokesman of the rebellious eastern commander of the LTTE, Col Karuna. more..

Tamil Tigers warn renegade commander

Mar 12 (Reuters) Sri Lanka's Tamil Tigers vowed on Friday to retake areas under the control of a powerful renegade rebel commander, but said they would try to do so without bloodshed to avoid destabilising the island's ceasefire. more..

Tigers vow to take back land from renegade leader

Mar 12 (AFP) Rival Tamil Tiger factions deployed fighters on the banks of a river here as the main guerrilla outfit vowed to take back territory from a renegade regional commander. The political wing leader of the main LTTE in the northeastern port district of Trincomalee, S. Thilak, said the group's fighters were poised against the breakaway faction of V. Muralitharan. more..

Silva leads St Thomas fightback

Mar 12 (CI) A captain's innings of 85 from Kaushal Silva brought St Thomas College back into the match on the second day of their game against Royal College at the Sinhalese Sports Club. The day was almost a carbon-copy of yesterday - early successes for the bowlers, a middle-order recovery, and then late wickets. more..