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Rights group concerned about Sri Lanka audit chief

Mar 23 (AFP) The Asian Human Rights Commission Thursday said it was "gravely concerned" at public criticism of Sri Lanka's audit chief who has exposed government corruption including mishandling of tsunami relief aid. The Hong Kong-based rights group in a statement said the organisation had asked President Mahinda Rajapakse to prevent any attempts to undermine the official. more..

India's Sonia Gandhi resigns from parliament

Mar 23 (AFP) India's ruling Congress party chief Sonia Gandhi resigned her parliamentary seat after opposition allegations she wrongfully held another salaried public post. "Following the principles of probity and my inner conscience I am resigning my post in the parliament," said Gandhi, more..

Tigers say Colombo curbs undoing Swiss talks

Mar 23 (AFP) The Tamil Tiger rebels have accused Sri Lanka of endangering efforts to end ethnic bloodshed by imposing fresh conditions on their political activity. The LTTE said the government had forbidden the rebels from flying their own flags on offices they want to re-open in military-held areas of the island's north-east, and had said children should not take part in Tiger celebrations. more..

Government says peace talks to go ahead despite Tamil rebel concerns

Mar 23 (AP) The Sri Lankan government reaffirmed its commitment to the peace process Thursday after the Tamil Tiger rebels suggested the government was not fulfilling its obligations agreed at the last round of talks. The two sides were scheduled to meet for a second round April 19-21 in Geneva, Switzerland. more..

'Stop destroying nature reserve' EFL

Mar 24 (BBC) Environmentalists have sought help from courts to stop land in a natural reserve being handed over by Sri Lankan authorities for human consumption. In a petition to the appeal courts on Thursday Environmental Foundation Limited (EFL) has called for an injunction to halt the distribution of prime forest land in Hakgala for cultivation and settlement. more..

Cease fire violations continue as both parties reject conditions

Mar 24 (LeN) Cease-fire violations are on the increase following the LTTE's rejection of a precondition put forward by the government to its request to set up political offices and hoist the LTTE flag in government controlled areas. Three LTTE cadres fired at the Malalkadu Army sentry around 12.45 last afternoon. more..

JVP is attacking us- Hela Urumaya

Mar 24 (LeN) The Jathika Hela Urumaya alleges that all three major political parties have unleashed terror on many JHU local poll candidates. JHU media spokesman Nishanha Sri Warnasinghe said today that the party organizer and the secretary of Homagama Jana Sabha were assaulted wit poles by 4 JVP members around 2.00 on Tuesday night while they were putting up posters. more..

The government has not even thought of national government

Mar 24 (LeN) Responding to a query made by a journalist at today's media briefing whether moves are underway to form a national government, Media Minister Anura Priyadarshana Yapa said it was a creation of the media. He said there apparently is no need for a national government although UNPers are joining hands in large numbers with the government. more..

We tolerate even when security forces are fired at- Cabinet spokesman

Mar 24 (LeN) Media Minister Anura Priyadarshana Yapa says the government continues to honor the joint statement made after the Geneva talks. The Minister made this remark in response to a statement made by LTTE theoretician Anton Balasingham that the LTTE would not participate at the next round of peace talks if the paramilitary groups were not disarmed in keeping with the joint statement. more..

Sri Lanka name expanded test squad due to injuries

Mar 24 (Reuters) Injuries to opener Sanath Jayasuriya and pace bowler Chaminda Vaas mean Sri Lanka have named an 18-man squad for the two tests against Pakistan. Vaas has a side strain and is considered doubtful for the opening match, which starts on Sunday, while Jayasuriya, who has not played test cricket since September due to a series of injuries, will have a fitness test on Saturday. more..

Taste of Sri Lanka

Mar 24 (WS) With airfare to Sri Lanka out of our price range, The Friend and I revert to Plan B -- a journey to Taste of Sri Lanka on Bannatyne Avenue. Located in the former Gilroy space, warm and exotic spices have replaced the pungent aroma of garlic. The decor remains virtually unchanged: a dark ceiling caps the light coloured brick walls while black topped tables skirt the large dining room. more..

Teenagers who refuse military training rapped by the Tigers

Mar 24 (LT) Sources from Batticaloa say that teenagers who refuse military training from the Tigers are inhumanely beaten by the Tigers. Thirteen such teenagers who were at the receiving end of the wrath of the Tigers and therefore got beaten and injured by the Tigers have surrendered to the Batticaloa police yesterday (23) evening. more..

Working class should not yield to individuals’ fancies – Mahinda Rajapakse

Mar 24 (LT) The working class need not bow down to the petit interests of individuals said President Mahinda Rajapakse. The President saying that certain trade unions had asked their members to spoil their votes pointed out that it was wrong. more..

Making identity card compulsory is unethical – Tissa Attanayake

Mar 24 (LT) Making identity cards compulsory at the local government elections is vehemently opposed by his party says Mr. Tissa Attanayake, Deputy Secretary General of the UNP. Majority of the people in the country don’t have identity cards said Mr. Attanayake adding that their party did not approve taking such a step without making identity cards available to everyone. more..

No separate Muslim delegation at next month's peace talks

Mar 24 (AT) The 'step motherly' attitude meted out to the Muslim community is likely to continue even at next month's peace talks in Geneva with both the Government and the LTTE still not approving the participation of a separate Muslim delegation. The Muslim community has been the silent sufferer during the two decade long ethnic conflict owing to more..

WCIC aims to select most outstanding woman entrepreneur

Mar 24 (AT) Sri Lanka’s women entrepreneurs will receive the prestigious National Woman Entrepreneurs Award by the Women’s Chamber of Industry and Commerce [WCIC] to recognise their business success. "This year's awards have been expanded from five to eight categories to offer opportunities to a wider range of women entrepreneurs to include the Best innovative enterprise, more..

Korean Importers will visit Sri Lanka as a trade mission

Mar 24 (AT) Korea Importers Association (KOIMA) with a membership of nearly 10,000 companies has arranged the visit of a trade mission to Sri Lanka to promote local exports to Korea. The Korean delegation consisting of 20 businessmen are expected to meet approximately 60 local Exporters, Importers, Manufactures and Suppliers more..

Angry Muslims demand removal of PAFFREL chief if he fails to authenticate his allegations

Mar 24 (AT) The Muslim Council of Sri Lanka has demanded that Kingsley Rodrigo, the PAFFREL Chief resign or be removed from his position immediately if he cannot produce evidence he claimed he posses to support his allegation that there are Muslim armed groups by the name of Jihad and Jamith E Islami operating in the East. more..

Parliament approves tax on Hollywood and Bollywood blockbusters, sitcoms

Mar 24 (LBO) Sri Lanka passed controversial laws on Tuesday to tax imported movies, dramas, sitcoms and commercials, though tax rates and conditions have not yet been decided. The law makes way for a Teledrama, Film and Commercials levy on imports of all television stations as well as commercials made out of the country and imported for local telecast. more..

Sri Lanka relaxes import tariffs from India in April, customs revenues hit

Mar 24 (LBO) Sri Lanka will have to further relax import tariffs on goods like cement from April this year under its trade deal with India, with customs revenues taking a hit. Sri Lanka's bilateral trade agreements with both India and Pakistan allow for a phasing out of tariffs over a eight year period, for goods that are not on a sensitive list. more..

Will asylum protest meeting in London change the mind of British Gov?

Mar 24 (ISL) Report reaching from persons close to the official circle confirms that the public protest meeting organized by the Action Group of Tamil Asylum Seekers (AGTAS) in London at the Trafalgar Square will not have any influence on the government to change its policy to return the refused asylum claimants to Sri Lanka. more..

Romesh Gunesekera: The decisive moment

Mar 24 (TI) "Timing is the thing," begins Romesh Gunesekera's new novel, The Match. It is somewhat surprising, therefore, when the author fails to make an appearance at the allotted hour of our interview. He was supposed to have been here, at his publisher's Soho Square offices, half an hour ago. more..

It's obvious the LTTE is preparing for war -Ponnambalam Jr.

Mar 24 (TW) Q: Is the LTTE preparing for war?
A: That is pretty obvious. There had been no meaningful effort made on humanitarian grounds, to make a conflict sensitive approach towards the issues of the civilians over the last 4 years. There has been instead a systematic effort by the Sri Lankan armed forces and the government to undermine the LTTE by using paramilitary groups. more..

Breakaway rebel group joins call for delinking provinces

Mar 24 (Gulf) A breakaway group of the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) has joined hands with a nationalist organisation of majority Sinhalese calling for the delinking of the north and east provinces as one administrative unit, a long-time demand of the minority rebels. more..

LTTE men on recruitment mission arrested from hill country

Mar 24 (SLA) Two LTTE trained Home Guards, disguised as businessmen and allegedly tried to recruit some men from the central hill country areas of NORWOOD, NUWAR-ELIYA to the Tamil Tiger (LTTE) organization were arrested by the Police on Thursday (23) around 5.30 p.m.. more..

My Son Abducted, Complains Father

Mar 24 (SLA) THE FATHER OF A 25-YEAR OLD YOUTH in a Police complaint claimed that his son, DEVARAJAH NAVALINGAM alias BABU residing at No. 156, SHANTHIPURAM, SOUTH BAR, MANNAR was abducted by Tamil Tigers (LTTE) last month. The complainant, having waited for his son’s return after LTTE men abducted him on 21 February 2006, more..

Fear stricken villagers with their teenagers vacate homesteads

Mar 24 (SLA) 25 civilians including 08 girls and 05 boys below ten years of age of six families, due to intensified Tamil Tiger (LTTE) harassments have reached the BATTICALOA Police Station in search of protection for their lives vacating their homesteads in un-cleared areas of THOPPIGALA in BATTICALOA Thursday (23) morning, more..

LTTE's military strength key to Tamils' future- Theepan

Mar 24 (TN) Speaking at an sports event commemorating the martyrs of the Special Intelligence Wing of the Liberation Tigers Wednesday in an undisclosed location in Vanni, Northern Region Military Commander, Col.Theepan said, "Tamil peoples' future and victory in the struggle for self-determination are critically dependent on our military strength. more..

Sri Lanka on path to cut interest rates later this year

Mar 24 (LBO) Sri Lanka is likely to cut interest rates later this year, in a backdrop of declining inflation, a top bureaucrat who plays a key role in the country's fiscal and monetary policies said Thursday. "There has been a consecutive drop in inflation over the past few months, which leaves room for changes in interest rates later this year," more..

LTTE abandons the decision to open political offices

Mar 24 (LT) Due to the conditions laid down by the Government, the Wanni tigers have decided to abandon the idea of opening their political offices in state controlled areas, according to Tiger news. Consequently the opening of offices scheduled for 22nd instant in these areas has been stopped at the last moment. more..

Village cannot be developed staying in AC rooms – President

Mar 24 (LT) President Mahinda Rajapakse emphasized that the village cannot be developed staying inside the air-conditioned rooms in Colombo, but only through mixing and cooperation with village folk. He made these comments at Siyambalanduwa this morning. more..

UNP nomination papers in LG polls for Colombo Municipal Council rejected

Mar 24 (LT) The nomination papers forwarded for the Colombo Municipal Council has been rejected by the Appeal Courts this morning. Consequently the Courts announced the decision taken by the Returning Officers of the Elections Department to reject the nomination papers is acceptable. more..

President vows to fight liquor and drug menace

Mar 24 (LNP) President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Wednesday vowed to eradicate the drug menace come what may. 'Our promise to put a stop to drunkenness is being implemented courageously in spite of opposition. We should build a better society for children to live in. That is our responsibility, it is the responsibility of the parents,' more..

Alleged US visa fraud mastermind held in Nigeria

Mar 24 (LNP) Sea-food exporter Upali Karunaratne accused of masterminding the recently exposed US visa scam in which Sports Minister Jeevan Kumaratunga`s name transpired, last night denied any wrongdoing on his part. Speaking to The Island from Nigeria, Karunaratne said that he was in touch with the Nigerian police and the US Consulate in Lagos investigating the scam. more..

Wrong injection kills baby

Mar 24 (LNP) A ten month baby has died after a wrong injection was allegedly administered on her, Matale police said. They said the child Lakshita Prasangani from Nagolla was taken to a private medical clinic on Wednesday evening with high fever and as the doctor was away, the doctor`s husband who is not a doctor had given the child an injection which proved to be fatal. more..

UNP asks: Is the betel in JVP’s hands?

Mar 24 (SAMN) The UNP said Thursday the government should be ashamed of the JVP’s boast that the government is in office today because of the magnanimity shown by the JVP. UNP assistant general secretary Tissa Attanayake told a news conference that JVP parliamentarian Anura Kumara Dissanayake claimed recently President Mahinda Rajapakse was kept in office by the JVP. more..

Something for everyone in private sector

Mar 24 (SAMN) While predicting over 6 per cent growth target for this year, Treasury Secretary Dr. P.B. Jayasundere said there is something for everyone in the private sector under President Rajapakse’s Mahinda Chinthana. He pointed out that Sri Lanka needs to think afresh and predicted a 6% plus growth for this year more..

Benefit scheme for media personnel

Mar 24 (SAMN) The Government has decided to implement a social security benefit scheme for media personnel. Cabinet spokesman Minister Anura Priyadharshana Yapa told the media Thursday that the scheme which seeks to ensure the welfare of members of the media, will shortly be presented in Parliament in the form of a Bill. more..

Lanka's first water and amusement park opens Monday

Mar 24 (DN) 'Leisure World' - the first Sri Lankan Park based on the theme of 'Water and Amusement' will be officially open by President Mahinda Rajapakse on Monday, March 27 in Kaluaggala. The Park managed by the Leisure World Water Parks (Pvt) Ltd., will be open to the public from April 2. more..

Sri Lanka Jan trade deficit widens sharply

Mar 24 (Reuters) Sri Lanka's trade deficit widened to $240 million in January from $62.3 million a year ago, the central bank said on Friday, as exports fell and imports of machinery and raw materials rose. Imports rose 17.5 percent year-on-year to $680.3 million while exports fell 14.8 percent to $440.3 million. more..

Sri Lankan army relaunches Web site

Mar 24 (AP) Sri Lanka's military has redesigned its Web site to counter an online disinformation campaign by the separatist Tamil Tiger rebels, a top military officer said Friday at its launch. The new-look Web site carries maps and graphics detailing incidents that the military blames on the LTTE, Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka told reporters in Colombo. more..

Murali given a car for taking 1,000 wickets

Mar 24 (AFP) The Sri Lankan cricket board gave ace off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan a car for becoming the first bowler to claim 1,000 wickets in international cricket. A host of dignitaries, past and present Sri Lankan players and the entire Pakistan team attended a function organised by Sri Lanka Cricket here on Thursday to honour the prolific bowler. more..

Sri Lanka imposes rice supply quota

Mar 24 (Jang) Pakistani exporters are making efforts to get rice and tea removed from the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Sri Lanka as Colombo imposes quota on the import of rice, thus restricting trade. Pakistan and Sri Lanka signed FTA at the beginning of 2005, which took effect from June 1, 2005. more..

Govt receives early boost in local elections

Mar 24 (Xinhua) Sri Lanka's ruling party received a major boost ahead of next week's local council election when the Appeal Court here Friday upheld a decision by the election authorities to reject the nomination list filed by the main opposition United National Party (UNP) for the Colombo Municipal Council (CMC). more..

Five Tamil students injured in alleged military attack in northern Sri Lanka

Mar 24 (AP) Soldiers attacked a group of students in Sri Lanka's troubled northern peninsula Friday after they defied orders and hoisted a Tamil Tiger rebel flag at their institute, students said. Five students were injured when the army entered the Advanced Technological Institute in Jaffna, assaulted students and smashed doors and windows, more..

Report: One Tamil rebel killed, two injured in eastern Sri Lanka

Mar 24 (AP) The Tamil Tigers on Friday accused government soldiers of firing mortars at a rebel checkpoint in eastern Sri Lanka, killing one guerrilla and wounding two others, a pro-rebel Web site reported Friday. The attack occurred Thursday night near the port town of Trincomalee, the Puthinam Web site quoted S. Elilan, the rebel leader in the area, as saying. more..

Sri Lanka and rebels rearm despite talks - Army chief

Mar 24 (Reuters) Sri Lanka's military and the Tamil Tigers are both re-arming even as they prepare for a new round of talks in Switzerland, the army chief said on Friday. Violence in Sri Lanka's minority Tamil-dominated north and east pushed the island to the brink of war in January but has fallen off sharply since the two sides agreed to hold their first direct talks since 2003. more..

Strike grips Sri Lanka town amid tension

Mar 24 (AFP) A strike gripped Sri Lanka's restive northeast as Tamil Tiger rebels and the Colombo government traded allegations of reneging on their latest pledges to uphold a troubled truce. Shops and offices shut in the district of Trincomalee in response to the one-day strike called by a Tamil Tiger rebel front organisation, more..

Sri Lanka taps international markets to change debt profile

Mar 25 (LBO) Sri Lanka is working on changing its debt profile, replacing old concessional loans with overseas borrowings and re-allocating low yielding foreign loans to other projects. Treasury Secretary P B Jayasundara said the island was floating an international bond this year to raise between US$500 million to US$1 billion as a "debt neutral restructuring exercise." more..

US opens first children's park in Trincomalee

Mar 25 (IANS) The US Friday gave the children of Trincomalee in eastern Sri Lanka a safe new place to play and help put the trauma of tsunami behind by opening a play park for kids. The Children's Park at Kulakkotan is the third of 85 play parks planned for 12 tsunami-affected districts under a partnership developed by the USAID. more..