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Local polls: Army to be deployed if necessary

Mar 22 (LNP) The government assured parliament yesterday that action would be taken to prevent further election related violence ahead of the local council polls on March 30. Speaking during the emergency debate, Prime Minister and Deputy Defence Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake said the government would even consider using the Army to help the police maintain law and order during the elections campaign. more..

Electricity for 85% by 2010

Mar 22 (DN) The Government has finalised a mega programme to augment the national grid that will see 85 per cent of the country's population provided with electricity by 2010. A further project to provide electricity through solar energy and mini hydro schemes that will meet the needs of between five to 10 per cent of the population is also in the pipeline. more..

USAID funds political puppet show in Sri Lanka TV

Mar 22 (TN) Key decision makers in the Sri Lanka Government will interact with a Puppet cast representing "a socio-politically diverse cross-section of Sri Lanka, and contributes varied perspectives into a weekly discussion of prominent political issues," in the USAID funded "Janathalaya" in the Telshan Network Limited (TNL), more..

'Gama Neguma' programme targeting the improvement of under developed areas to be launched

Mar 22 (SLBC) President Mahinda Rajapakse says the 'Gama Neguma' programme targeting to improve areas with minimal development will be launched on Friday centering the Moneragala District. President said under the programme long-term development programmes will be implemented at Divisional Secretariat level. more..

Boys abducted to be suicide bombers tell of escape from rebels

Mar 22 (SM) TWO youths have revealed how they escaped from the Tamil Tigers after they were kidnapped by the Sri Lankan rebels, given weapons training and briefed on suicide operations. The young men, now in the care of UNICEF, confirmed the suspicion that the Tamil Tigers, also known as the LTTE, are continuing with child abductions, more..

Pakistan ease to series victory

Mar 22 (CI) Pakistan, with the new, facially-hirsute Mohammad Yousuf leading the way, bounced back from an Indian thumping, to beat Sri Lanka with some comfort by four wickets and wrap up an impressive one-day series win. Although Yousuf's untroubled 53 - his 48th ODI fifty - saw them to within touching distance, Pakistan's upper-order had earlier shrugged aside their recent flimsiness to set up the platform, for the win. more..

India helps set up bio-resource institute in Sri Lanka

Mar 22 (Hindu) Mahinda Rajapakse has inaugurated a bio-resource institute in central Sri Lanka, started with Indian expertise. The institute includes a model farm in which rural youth, mainly drawn from the plantation sector are trained. The farm will "train rural youth in modern, eco-friendly and low-cost solutions that help supplement their incomes," the Indian High Commission said. more..

India clawing back to Sri Lanka's North East

Mar 22 (IANS) India is slowly, patiently and with a clear agenda finding its way back into Sri Lanka's North East, after having almost washed its hands off the Tamil scene following Rajiv Gandhi's assassination 15 years ago. In just a year after Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran declared in Trincomalee that the "North East is very close to India's heart", New Delhi is making its presence felt again more..

Navy seizes vessel suspected of carrying weapons to Tamil Tiger rebels

Mar 22 (AP) Sri Lanka's navy on Wednesday seized a fishing boat suspected of smuggling explosives to the Tamil Tiger rebels and detained five ethnic Tamils, a day after an exchange of fire between the rebels and the navy. The boat was intercepted off the coast of the Jaffna Peninsula, 300 kilometers (186 miles) north of the capital, Colombo, more..

Poor forced to eat spoilt rice: JVP

Mar 22 (SAMN) The JVP Tuesday accused the government of holding Samurdhi recipients to ransom by forcing them to buy spoilt rice from cooperative stores. JVP parliamentarian and former minister Vijitha Herath made the attack during the debate extending the emergency. more..

Rs. 3 billion to buy Maha season harvest

Mar 22 (SAMN) Rupees three billion has been allocated by the Treasury to buy the upcoming Maha season harvest at a price range of Rs.16.50 – Rs.17.50 per kilo of paddy. Rs. 600 million has already been disbursed to the district secretaries and the remainder will be released on a weekly basis. more..

FR case against JSC appointments

Mar 22 (BBC) A senior counsel has urged the presiding judge of a Fundamental Rights case to hand over the petition to another judge on grounds of conflict of interest. Counsel Elmo Perera has produced a FR petition against the appointment of two judges to the Judicial Services Commission (JSC) by the President without seeking recommendations from Constitutional Council (CC). more..

Army shot at Jaffna

Mar 22 (BBC) There have been a series of incidents in the troubled north between the Sri Lankan armed forces and the Tamil Tigers. The Sri Lanka Army (SLA) accused the Tigers of shooting security personnel in Malalkadu, Jaffna on Wednesday. Military spokesman Brigadier Prasad Samarasinghe accused the LTTE of violating the four-year old truce. more..

Sinhala nationalist extremists obstacle to peace – Balasingham

Mar 23 (TN) The Liberation Tigers will view any further attacks by military-backed paramilitaries as an act of war and may postpone next month’s talks in Geneva unless the state fulfils the Ceasefire Agreement and disarms them, the LTTE’s Political Strategist Mr. Anton Balasingham said Tuesday. more..

WB Country Director concludes visit to Trincomalee district

Mar 23 (TN) Mr.Peter C.Harold, World Bank Country Director who was on a two-day visit to Trincomalee district handed over 78 houses reconstructed under the first phase of the WB funded North East Housing Reconstruction Programme (NEHRP) to war affected families and inaugurated the second phase of the Reconstruction Programme in Avvainagar in Morawewa division. more..

Japan funds development projects in Mannar, Puttalam, Monaragala

Mar 23 (TN) Japan has provided US$191,365 for three rural development projects, Integrated Programme for Rasamadhu and Kattaspathri Cluster Villages in Mannar District, Integrated Development through Sustainable Livelihood and SocioEconomic Development in Puttalam, and Livelihood Improvement for Identified Seven GN Divisions in Siyambalanduwa, Moneragala District, more..

New homes in Sri Lanka for the New Year

Mar 23 (RW) Of the 100 houses proposed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), 50 families displaced by the December 2004 tsunami will move into their new homes in Moratuwa in April this year welcoming a new beginning with the dawn of the traditional Sinhala and Tamil New Year. more..

No Multi-Ethnic Balance in Sri Lanka, Says Expert

Mar 23 (IPS) Sri Lankan human rights lawyer Nimalka Fernando says "the world is steeped in racism and religious intolerance," which threaten the very existence of minority communities in countries like her own. "In today's world, the ‘other' than me and my community is an alien and an object to be dealt with and annihilated somehow," more..

SL cabinet approves MOU to set up coal power plant

Mar 23 (AT) Sri Lanka’s Cabinet ministers have approved the signing of the MOU to set up the coal power plant in Trincomalee. Minister of Power and Energy W.D.J Seneviratne says the signing will take place during the next few days. The project will get underway as a joint venture between Sri Lanka and India. more..

'LTTE preparing to launch a simultaneous attack in the north and the east'

Mar 23 (AT) Pillaiyan, Special Commander of the TamilEela Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal (Colonel Karuna's Group), told the Asian Tribune yesterday that, according to their intelligence reports, LTTE is preparing to launch a surprise attack on their formations in the East and simultaneously planning to attack the Sri Lanka security forces in the North. more..

Film explores broken Tamil lives

Mar 23 (BBC) A controversial film about the life and assassination of human rights worker Rajani Thiranagama from northern Sri Lanka is being screened in London as a part of the Human Rights Watch film festival. Rajani was assassinated at the age of 35 in the northern town of Jaffna in broad daylight in 1989, after she published a book about human rights abuses in the north of war-torn Sri Lanka. more..

LG elections in the NE: Is postponement the answer?

Mar 23 (ML) The decision by the Elections Commissioner to postpone local government elections in the districts of Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Vavuniya, Mullaitivu and Mannar raises questions with regard to the overarching issue of the process of democratisation of the north and east. more..

63,000 chicks die of 'Vimukthi' flue

Mar 23 (LeN) Sixty three thousand chicks at Makuluwatta, Kosgama, Meegoda, Halwatura and Wegalpanawa poultry farms owned by Prima Company have died by this evening. They have died not of deadly bird fever but due to lack of food and water. Employees currently on strike at these farms have prevented chicks from being fed. more..

JVP camaraderie overflows in 'Mangalagama'

Mar 23 (LeN) Nineteen persons from three families of the same village are contesting as JVP candidates at this local government election. This is the first time the country's electoral history that brothers and sisters, husbands and wives and other in laws from two to three families of the same village are contesting a Pradeshiya Sabha. more..

Container clearance in Port to be handed over to private company

Mar 23 (LeN) The clearing of containers in the Colombo Port which was hitherto handled by the Ports Authority is to be handed over K.Port Company. The Port General Workers Union alleges that the decision to hand over the clearing of containers to a private company on the orders of Ports Minister Mangala Samaraweera would pose a grave danger to national security more..

You can appear without a cloak - Justice Thilakwardane

Mar 23 (LeN) Attorney Elmo Fernando who filed a fundamental rights petition challenging the appointment of two members to the Judicial Services Commission in violation of the constitution, today filed a preliminary objection claiming that fair play could not be expected from appointing Justice Shriani Tlakawardane in the bench to hear the petition. more..

Sri Lankan Catholics fear talks may not avert war’s resumption

Mar 23 (UCAN) Sri Lankan Catholics have a special impetus to pray for peace during Lent, because the next round of peace talks between the government and Tamil rebels is scheduled just after Easter. According to Perpetual Help Sister Rita Janet, "The Caritas network is focusing this Lent on making the faithful aware of the peace process." more..

LTTE hands over home guards to Muslim leaders

Mar 23 (TN) Mr.S.Elilan, Trincomalee district political head of the LTTE Thursday morning handed over the two Muslim home guards to leaders of the Mosques Councils in Muttur and Thoppur. The home guards were arrested by LTTE members when they entered into the Eachchilampathu divisional secretariat division, an area held by the LTTE, on 14 March. more..

Ex-LTTE cadre's body recovered in Batticaloa

Mar 23 (TN) Body of a young male recovered near the Batticaloa lagoon near Pillaiyarady on Monday has been identified by his wife as belonging to a ex-member of Liberation Tigers' Jayanthan Brigade who had left the LTTE and was working as a day laborer, sources in Batticaloa said. more..

SLA lifts fishing ban in Vadamaradchy

Mar 23 (TN) The Sri Lanka Army (SLA) in Jaffna told the Vadamaradchy North Fisheries Society representatives Thursday that SLA is lifting the three month old fishing ban along Valvettiturai Aathikovilady, Thondamanaaru and Kerudavil area coasts from 9 a.m. Thursday at a meeting held at Thondamanaaru Rural Development Centre Thursday morning, more..

Cabinet gives the nod for joint venture coal plant with NTPC

Mar 23 (LBO) Sri Lanka's cabinet of ministers had approved a deal for the state-owned Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) to team up with India's National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) in a joint venture coal plant, Power Minister John Seneviratne said Wednesday. more..

Rajani Thiranagama: A true heroine of our times

Mar 23 (TW) More than fifteen years have passed since Rajani Thiranagama nee Rajini Rajasingham was brutally gunned down at Thirunelvely, Jaffna on September 21st 1989 as she was cycling back home from the Jaffna University. She was Professor of Anatomy at the Jaffna Varsity medical faculty. more..

Local manufacturers demand 'Mahinda Chinthana' status from President

Mar 23 (LeN) Local manufacturers kept out of the duty free complex of the BIA, Katunayake, are agitating for reasonable space at the airport claiming they should be treated as promised in the 'Mahinda Chinthana' and has written to President Rajapaksa asking for a meeting to discuss their grievance. more..

Puppets to the fore!

Mar 23 (ANN) "Puppets and politics take center stage" was the title of a press release we received from the US Embassy in Colombo Wednesday (March 22). We for a moment thought they had got the title wrong and it should have read "Puppets take centre stage in politics". But we realised we were wrong as we went on reading. more..

Human Rights Watch under fire

Mar 23 (PIS) The Human Rights watch website allows feedback comments to be registered about its reports and the LTTE is at present conducting an orchestrated campaign to bombard the site with pro-LTTE protests, since the release of the HRW report on LTTE extortion in Canada and the UK. more..

Stocks slip, Tiger warning still weighs

Mar 23 (Reuters) Stocks fell on Thursday with investors still absorbing a warning from Tamil Tiger rebels that upcoming talks with the government might be delayed, while the rupee weakened as importers bought dollars. The Colombo All-Share index closed down a provisional 0.17 percent at 2,229.69. more..

Top tax officer remanded on charges of criminal fraud

Mar 23 (LNP) A former senior officer of the Inland Revenue Department Gunasiri Jayatilleke was remanded till April 5 by the Colombo Fort magistrate. He was produced in courts by the CID in connection with criminal misappropriation of Rs. 357 million accruing from VAT. more..

Mystery over abduction in court premises

Mar 23 (LNP) A daring Al-Capone-style daylight abduction of five suspects took place yesterday from within the Mt. Lavinia court premises, police said. They said the suspects were on bail and had presented themselves at the Magistrate`s courts at the time they were forcibly whisked away by an unidentified group more..

Bishops seek meeting with LTTE chief on Hoole

Mar 23 (LNP) Three Bishops have requested a meeting with LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran to discuss the Prof. Hoole issue. Church sources said Bishops, Rev. S. Jebaneshan, Rev. Thomas Ravuthar Nayagam, Rev. Rayappu were willing to meet Prabakaran in person to discuss the ongoing protests against the newly appointed Vice- Chancellor, more..

SL Government needs support of JVP, JHU- Rajapakse

Mar 23 (TN) Support of the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) and Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) is vital for continued smooth functioning of the Government, said President, Mahinda Rajapakse, speaking at the Gampaha district Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) meeting held in Viyangoda Wednesday afternoon, SLFP sources from Colombo said. more..

Humanitarian Situation Report - Sri Lanka: 11 - 23 Mar 2006

Mar 23 (RW) UNDP's Resident Representative in Sri Lanka, Miguel Bermeo, and the Chairman of the Disaster Relief Monitoring Unit (DMRU), Lionel Fernando, handed over the People's Consultations report to President Mahinda Rajapakse on 13 March. more..

PM wants electoral system changed

Mar 23 (SAMN) Prime minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake said after the on coming local government polls, action will be taken to change the electoral system as it had been proved ineffective and unsuitable for the country. The premier made this statement at an awareness workshop held at Galle Municipal council hall for Galle district local councils candidates and activists. more..

CC deadlock: Report going to President

Mar 23 (SAMN) The Government pledged on Tuesday to submit a report to President Mahinda Rajapaksa, in consultation with the minor parties, regarding their nominee to the Constitutional Council. The reconstitution of the council is delayed due to the tussle among minor parties each claiming the right to have its nominee appointed. more..

Hoole welcome cancelled

Mar 23 (SAMN) The meeting scheduled for 10.30 am Wednesday (22) to welcome the Jaffna University’s new Vice Chancellor Professor Rathnajeewan H. Hoole was cancelled due to threats from the LTTE, University sources said. Professor Hoole was appointed as the Vice Chancellor of the Jaffna University by President Rajapakse recently. more..

UNP nominations list: Judgement on Friday

Mar 23 (DN) The Court of Appeal yesterday reserved the order in the Writ Application that challenged the Election Commissioner's decision to reject the nomination paper of the United National Party for the Colombo Municipality for the Local Elections for March 24. more..

Moody, Jayawardene back Murali for Test success

Mar 23 (CI) Tom Moody and Mahela Jayawardene, the Sri Lankan coach and captain, believe that Muthiah Muralitharan's indifferent showing in the recently concluded one-day series will have no bearing on his performance in the Test series, due to begin on March 26 at the Sinhalese Cricket Club in Colombo. more..

Unidentified gunmen kill prominent Tamil businessman, staff member

Mar 23 (AP) Unidentified gunmen killed a prominent Tamil businessman and one of his staff members in northern Sri Lanka, police and the military said Thursday, in the latest flare-up of violence in the troubled region. The killings occurred late Wednesday near the town of Vavuniya, said military spokesman Brig. Sudhir Samarasinghe. more..

SL polls had to be put off for the sake of peace process: TNA

Mar 23 (HT) The pro-LTTE Tamil National Alliance (TNA) is justifying the postponement of elections to the local bodies in the Tamil-speaking North Eastern Province saying that it had to be done to keep the peace process on track. "Election violence at this juncture will have derailed the next round of peace talks to be held in Geneva in April," more..

SL Court to hear petition on Pirapaharan's sentence

Mar 23 (TN) Colombo Appeals Court will hear, on 25 May, a petition filed by former DIG of Police, Mr Kotagadeniya, to direct the Security Establishment to enforce the 200 year rigorous prison sentence passed by the Courts on Leader of Liberation Tigers, Velupillai Pirapaharan, for his role in the bombing of Central bank on January 31, 1996, more..

Tigers abducting fewer children -UN

Mar 23 (Reuters) Children are still being kidnapped by Tamil Tigers to train as fighters, the U.N. children's agency UNICEF says, but the abductions appear to be less frequent four years into a ceasefire. The number of children taken by the Tigers has fallen every year since a 2002 ceasefire halted two decades of civil war, but child recruitment was still continuing at an unacceptable level. more..