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Peace process could be in jeopardy, Tamil rebels tell mediator Norway

Mar 16 (AP) Peace efforts between the Sri Lanka government and Tamil Tiger rebels could be in jeopardy, the guerillas told a diplomat from peace broker Norway on Thursday. Norway's ambassador to Sri Lanka, Hans Brattskar, and Hagrup Haukland, the chief of Nordic truce monitors met the Tamil Tigers' political wing head S.P. Thamilselvan more..

Norwegian Aid Minister Solheim to reduce role as peace mediator

Mar 16 (AP) Norwegian Aid Minister Erik Solheim on Thursday said he will reduce his day-to-day role as peace mediator in Sri Lanka's civil war but will remain involved in efforts to solve the bloody conflict. The Socialist Left politician said he was appointing an additional peace mediator to handle many of the details, because of his workload as member of the Norwegian Cabinet. more..

Tsunami victims worry about war, not housing

Mar 16 (IPS) The famed sand mines of Manalkadhu vanished in a swirl of houses and people when gigantic waves crashed into the village on Dec. 26, 2004. Fifteen months on, most of the families in this hamlet that depend on fishing and selling construction sand, are still living in makeshift centers set up by the United Nations. more..

Two abducted students return home, but don't say who kidnapped them

Mar 16 (AP) Two Tamil students whose abduction sparked violent protests in eastern Sri Lanka have returned home safely, but have not revealed who abducted them, police said Thursday. "They returned home on Wednesday evening and we have detained them for further questioning in order to solve the mystery surrounding this abduction," local police chief K.G. Dharmawardena said. more..

Govt abandons plan to sell Union Place land through open auction

Mar 17 (LBO) The trade ministry had abandoned an earlier plan to sell a prime commercial property in Colombo belonging to a state trading agency by open auction, and instead decided to transfer the land to a government bank, an official said. Trade Ministry Secretary R M K Ratnayake says the Union Place land would be sold to the state-owned National Savings Bank, which would put up a luxury apartment complex. more..

Changes to Banking Act in parliament soon to brush up regulator teeth

Mar 17 (LBO) Central Bank has finalised several amendments to the Banking Act that will strengthen its ability to implement regulatory directions, officials said. The Central Bank had run even run into obstacles in getting banks to comply with the recent directive to increase core capital of specialised banks to Rs1.5billion. more..

China hails peace talks with LTTE, vows to help Sri Lanka

Mar 17 (PTI) China today welcomed the resumption of peace talks between the Sri Lankan Government and the LTTE and promised help to improve the island nation's infrastructure and repair port facilities damaged by tsunami in December 2004. China and Sri Lanka were committed to push forward their all-round and cooperative partnership, more..

Tamil community cries foul

Mar 17 (G&M) A Human Rights Watch report alleging widespread extortion and intimidation in Toronto on behalf of Sri Lanka's separatist Tamil Tigers was assailed by the Canadian Tamil Congress yesterday as disparaging, methodologically flawed, short on specifics and flat-out wrong. "If you have evidence, approach the police," speaker Dushy Gnanapragasam told a press conference at a Toronto hotel, more..

Norway's Sri Lanka peace envoy to stand aside

Mar 17 (Reuters) Norway's International Development Minister Erik Solheim said on Thursday he will stand aside as a special peace envoy in Sri Lanka's civil war but keep overall responsibility for Oslo's mediation effort. The 51-year-old, who has often visited Sri Lanka in the past six years as peace envoy, said Oslo would soon name a successor. more..

Teams scramble to avoid relegation in Champions Trophy

Mar 17 (CI) The three-match ODI series between Pakistan and Sri Lanka starting on Friday becomes crucial as both teams look to avoid relegation to the preliminary round of the forthcoming Champions Trophy. Countries have until April 1 to improve their rankings and make it to the group stage. more..

Sinhalas see Rajapaksa as peacemaker: Survey

Mar 17 (HT) An overwhelming majority of Sinhalas, the dominant community in Sri Lanka, think that President Mahinda Rajapaksa is committed to a negotiated settlement of the ethnic conflict, and that he has the strength to bring it about, according to a survey conducted by the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA). more..

SLMC supports President's peace plans

Mar 17 (Xinhua) Sri Lanka's main political party for the minority Muslim community is bracing itself to support the Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse's peace initiative with the Tamil Tigers. According to SLMC Thursday, the party leader Rauff Hakeem had told a party forum early this week that the SLMC needs to back Rajapakse' efforts. more..

UNP in financial crisis but Ranil has gone abroad

Mar 17 (LeN) The United National Party has run into serious financial crisis as party leader Ranil Wickremesinghe has gone abroad entrusting the party's local election campaign to the Elections Operation Committee headed by Deputy Leader Karu Jayasuriya. more..

There won't be another election till 2009 - Constitutional Affairs Minister

Mar 17 (LeN) There will not be another election until 2009 after the local government election scheduled for 30th of this month, Constitutional Affairs Minister Dew Gunasekara said at a Freedom Alliance media briefing held this evening in Colombo. more..

US taking note of LTTE fundraising report

Mar 17 (AFP) The Bush administration has said it is taking seriously a Human Rights Watch report which documents the LTTE's fundraising outside Sri Lanka a also methods involved in the "collection". "We have designated the LTTE a long time ago as a foreign terrorist organisation and this was in part because of its activities outside of Sri Lanka raising funds," a senior US administration official said. more..

Tamiselvan attacks appointment of Vice-chancellor

Mar 17 (AT) After meeting Norway's Ambassador Mr Hans Brattskar in Kilinochchi yesterday, S. P. Tamiselvan, head of the LTTE’s Political Wing, continued his attack on the appointment of Prof. Ratnajeevan Hoole, as Vice Chancellor of the University of Jaffna. more..

CTC response to allegations by Human Rights Watch on Extortion

Mar 17 (HRW) A report to be released by New York based Human Rights Watch on March 15, 2006, entitled "Tamil Tigers Extort Diaspora for 'Final War' Funds" indicts the entire Tamil Canadian community by allegations that in effect portrays the entire community as complicit in illegal activities. more..

Human Rights Watch Replies to the CTC

Mar 17 (HRW) During our investigation of intimidation and extortion in the Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora, Human Rights Watch interviewed several dozen members of the Tamil community in Canada and the United Kingdom, including business owners, professionals, activists, journalists and other individuals. more..

Grenade attack, extortion threats unsettle Vavuniya businessmen

Mar 17 (TN) Unknown attackers on Wednesday lobbed a grenade at the residence of a businessman in Vavuniya, sources in Vavuniya said. No one was injured in the attack. Five traders have registered complaints with Vavuniya police that persons claiming to be belonging to Karuna group have threatened over the phone demanding large sums of money, more..

Aussie minister visits Mannar, assesses ground situation

Mar 17 (TN) Ms.Amanda Venstonse, Australian Minister of Emigration and Multi-Culture, accompanied by Mr.Krag Franf, Australian envoy in Colombo, Thursday visited Mannar and held discussions with top officials of civil authority and military regarding the ground situation. more..

Sri Lanka Catholic women march against abortion

Mar 17 (UCAN) About a thousand women tea-plantation workers marked International Women's Day by protesting abortion, a problem they face. The women holding placards with messages such as "women are not slaves" and "stop abortion" marched around Hatton on March 8. Along the way they performed a street play about the ill effects of abortion. more..

President meets Gujral

Mar 17 (LT) Former Indian Prime Minister Indrakumar Gujral concluded his official three day visit to Sri Lanka today meeting President Mahinda Rajapakse. Attention at the meeting was drawn to strengthening ties between the two countries and human rights violations in South Asian Region. more..

Give village to Mahinda – Maithripala Sirisena

Mar 17 (LT) Just as the country was handed over to Mahinda, the village too should be handed over to him said Mr. Maithripala Sirisena, Secretary General of the SLFP. Addressing a media meeting held in Colombo yesterday, Minister Sirisena said the administration of the village should go to the Alliance if ‘Mahinda Chinthana’ is to be taken to the village. more..

Asylumn seekers in UK face deportation

Mar 17 (TN) Action Group of Tamil Asylumn Seekers (AGTAS) in U.K. is organising a protest rally against the British move to deport rejected asylumn seekers. "We fear more than 2000 persons have already been either deported or detained by the British authorities during the recent months," said Mr. M. Selvarooban, an organiser of the Action Group. more..

Technical training institute in Kinniya

Mar 17 (RW) Kinniya Institute of Industrial Technology(KIIT), probably the first major tsunami relief capacity building project in the country, was inaugurated in Kinniya on Sunday 12 March, 2006. Mr Irfan Khurshid, executive Director of the funding organization, Helping Hand - USA, a sister organization of ICNA Relief USA, was the Chief Guest at the Ceremony. more..

Tamil Democratic Congress Leader Jaydevan Under LTTE Threats

Mar 17 (ISL) The LTTE operative had started a propaganda war against Tamil Democratic Congress leader R Jayadevan who had been in the forefront of organizing moderate Tamil voices in United Kingdom and Europe for political reforms in Sri Lanka and democratizing the politics in Northeast of the country. more..

Almost every other Tamil family visited by Tiger extortionists in Toronto

Mar 17 (ISL) During the last twelve months virtually every other Tamil family in Toronto and its neighbouring municipalities have had visits from Tiger “Final War” fund extortionists. When such visits did not have the desired results, these callers often became rude, even nasty and indicated that the consequences could be quite awful, even for their relatives in Sri Lanka. more..

Jeyaraj drops visit to Wanni

Mar 17 (LeN) Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle who was to visit Wanni via Madu had dropped the whole journey at the last minute with Thamil Selvam refusing to meet him, reports from Kilinochchi indicate. The LTTE has decided there is no point meeting emissaries now, if the government is not going to honour the agreement reached at the Geneva discussions, more..

Cabinet reshuffle before the New Year in April

Mar 17 (LT) Presidential Secretariat sources indicate a Cabinet reshuffle is imminent before the April New Year. It said the President would remove the Ministers who have failed to implement programmes targeted during the past three months. Attention would be focused on their accomplishments of Mahinda Chintana programme. more..

Handling of containers at Port vested on Tiger ally

Mar 17 (LT) The handling of incoming and outgoing cargo in the Colombo port is to be handled by a private company which has engaged in buying arms for the Tiger organisation in the past. It is reported this work which was handled by the Ports Authority is now to be transferred to a millionaire business who is a close associate of Tiger organisation. more..

Building of Katunayaka-Ratmalana express rail line suspended

Mar 17 (LT) On a directive by President Mahinda Rajapakse building of proposed express railway line between Ratmalana and Katunayake has been suspended. When there is a separate Ministry to build new railway lines, a group of officials in some other Ministry has come to a secret agreement with a foreign company to initiate this project. more..

Sri Lanka wins gold medal for Weightlifting at C’wealth Games

Mar 17 (LT) Sri Lanka’s Chinthana Vidanage won the gold medal for weightlifting at the Commonwealth Games at Melbourne today (17). Chinthana’s gold medal winning total was 271 kg. With the final lift of the competition, he had to lift 153 kg, following his failure in previous attempt to lift 150kg. more..

TNA stand on Jaffna VC deplored by Anandasangaree

Mar 17 (LT) Referring to the protests made by the Tamil National Alliance, TULF Leader Mr V Anandasangaree states that no one should meddle with the administration of the Jaffna University and ruin the education of students. He has issued a press release regarding the protests made by the TNA on the appointment of Prof. Ratnajeevan Hoole as Vice Chancellor of the Jaffna University. more..

President happy on the situation after Geneva talks

Mar 17 (LT) President Mahinda Rajapakse said that he was happy on the outcome of Geneva talks. He said that the people of the country were accruing the benefits after the talks. Addressing a group of journalists at ‘Temple Trees’ yesterday he said, only a few incidents have been reported since the talks at Geneva last month face to face with the LTTE. more..

Sri Lanka Embassy in Washington to reach all Lankans living in US

Mar 17 (AT) Sri Lanka Embassy in the United States has launched a program that it has never embarked on since its inception: to rally all Sri Lankan expatriates living in all fifty states under a single banner, and reach out to Sri Lankan associations that are active in the country, a public affairs project the embassy never ever thought before. more..

Taboos and morality

Mar 17 (ANN) The Tigers are on a campaign to force morality on the people in the East. They have banned "unnecessary looks at females" among other things, according to a leaflet the LTTE has circulated in Trincomalee. The public have been warned to conduct themselves properly in public places or face punishment. Interestingly, no mention is made of women casting "unnecessary looks at males." Discrimination? more..

Eliminate need for illegal activities

Mar 17 (PIS) The disclosures made in the 45-page report of the US based Human Rights Watch group titled "Funding the Final War" about LTTE intimidation and extortion from Tamils living in Canada, Britain and other western countries will, no doubt, be viewed with disgust by all peace-loving people around the world. more..

Why quarrel over words? - Geneva talks have benefited all parties to conflict - President

Mar 17 (LNP) President Mahinda Rajapakse yesterday said he was happy that the benefits of the Geneva talks were accruing to the people. Since the government-LTTE face-to-face discussion last month, only a few incidents had been reported, he told a group of journalists at Temple Trees yesterday morning. more..

A 3-month development target for zoo and bot gardens almost achieved

Mar 17 (LNP) Nearly 90 per cent of the projects undertaken within the three-month programme by the Ministry of Promotion of Zoological Gardens and Botanical Gardens have been completed. Addressing a press conference on Wednesday at the National Zoological Gardens in Dehiwela, Minister Bandula Basnayake said that projects undertaken under the Mahinda Chinthanaya had been very successful. more..

A little caller and a good uncle

Mar 17 (LNP) Participants in a television singing contest, where winners are not selected but elected, have been campaigning vigorously for votes. They could be seen visiting schools and private tuition classes while their friends and family members are begging for votes over the telephone. more..

PA-JVP plot on local councils: UNP

Mar 17 (SAMN) The main opposition UNP Thursday strongly protested a reported move by the government to rush through legislation in Parliament making provisions for political parties not having an absolute majority to come together and run the administration of local bodies. more..

No smoke, tv without tax

Mar 17 (SAMN) President Mahinda Rajapakse said Thursday plans were underway to boost state revenue, by banning Sri Lankans from buying cigarettes at the duty free shop and imposing a higher levy on television channels. “We are losing valuable foreign exchange whilst the Government is also deprived of tax revenue,” he said. The Government last year collected Rs. 31 billion in revenue on tobacco taxes and levies. more..

US firm threatens to quit

Mar 17 (SAMN) A major US BoI venture furious over large scale theft of its products at the Bandaranaike International Airport, has asked local authorities to take counter measures to neutralize a gang of thieves operating at the airport. R. N. Patney, Managing Director of Celetronix Lanka, has said regular thefts were making it impossible to operate cost effectively in Sri Lanka. more..

President in surprise visit to RMV

Mar 17 (DN) President Mahinda Rajapakse yesterday issued instructions for the speedy computerisation of all Departments under the Registrar of Motor Vehicles to expedite the monthly issue of at least 60,000 drivers' licences. The President issued these instructions during a surprise visit to the Motor Traffic Department at Narahenpita yesterday. more..

Central Bank calls for new laws, financial discipline

Mar 17 (Xinhua) Sri Lanka's Central Banks said here Thursday that there was no serious threat to financial stability in Sri Lanka. Issuing the Financial Stability Review for 2005, the Bank stressed the need for self governance and market discipline to curb the unhealthy practices by players in the financial sector. more..

Solheim not to quit Lanka peace bid

Mar 17 (HT) Norway's peace broker Erik Solheim will soon be getting a deputy to do the actual peace facilitation work in Sri Lanka. A Norwegian Embassy spokesman told Hindustan Times that a new Special Peace Envoy would be appointed, but added that the envoy would be working under Solheim's leadership. more..

Independent Drugs Regulatory Authority is to be established

Mar 17 (SLBC) The government decides to establish an Independent Drugs Regulatory Authority. It will be set up as the first step towards preparing a national drug policy. The policy will be structured based on the drug policy drafted by Professor Senaka Bibile Wickremasinghe in 1971. more..

Pro-Tamil Tiger demonstration shuts down Sri Lanka's main eastern city

Mar 17 (AP) Student demonstrators believed to be backed by Tamil Tiger rebels brought eastern Sri Lanka's main city of Batticaloa to a standstill Friday, officials said. "Schools and shops are closed while transportation has also been severely affected," Police Chief Maxi Procter said by telephone. more..

Sri Lankan authorities probe emergency landing of US military aircraft

Mar 17 (AFX) The authorities have started an investigation into the emergency landing of a US military aircraft outside Colombo carrying 119 American troops, officials said. The pilots of the Boeing 757-200 type aircraft reported fumes in the cockpit and received permission to make an emergency landing at Sri Lanka's only international airport last night, more..

Yahoo Photos

Mar 17 (AP) Gold medal winner Sri Lanka's Chinthana Vidanage waves from the podium during a medal ceremony for the 2006 Commonwealth Games men's weightlifting 62 kg category in Melborne, Australia, Friday, March 17, 2006. more..