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Moves to change electoral system before budget to go for snap polls

Oct 3 (LeN) President Mahinda Rajapaksa is reported to be extremely keen on passing the draft bill on electoral reforms in Parliament before the conclusion of the budget debate. The President has stressed the need to present the bill in Parliament as soon as possible and has conveyed it to the government committee members of the Parliament select committee on electoral reforms headed by Minister Dinesh Gunawardane. more..

Refugees Endure Difficult Existence in Sri Lanka

Oct 3 (VoA) The United Nations says as many as 200,000 people in northern and eastern Sri Lanka have been displaced in recent weeks by fighting between the Tamil Tiger rebels and government forces. VOA's Patricia Nunan recently met with a family living in a refugee camp in the town of Kantale, in eastern Sri Lanka, and then visited the home they had fled. more..

Sri Lanka Sets Conditions for Talks as Norwegian Envoy Visits

Oct 3 (Bloomberg) Sri Lanka's government set conditions for holding peace talks with the rebel LTTE, as a Norwegian envoy began meetings with the two sides to try to end the worst fighting since a 2002 cease-fire. Jon Hanssen Bauer must "convince the LTTE on the importance of the early resumption of talks," the government said, ahead of his meeting today with rebel leaders. more..

Sri Lankan war refugees live in appalling conditions in southern India

Oct 3 (wsws) Fleeing death and destruction in Sri Lanka, around 15,000 people have escaped to the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu since January, amid an escalating war on the island between the security forces and the LTTE. Most of the refugees are poor farmers, labourers and fishermen. They had to scrape together several thousand rupees to pay for their boat fares. more..

Jaffna students boycott enters seventh week

Oct 3 (TN) Schools in the Jaffna peninsula remain closed as students continued their boycott of schools, and higher institutes of learning, as the boycott entered seventh week, sources in Jaffna said. Student Association members said that they will resume educational activities only if the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) creates an atmosphere of normalcy conducive for education. more..

India's Tata Tea may uproot itself from Sri Lanka

Oct 3 (LBO) Indian tea giant Tata Tea is in talks with a Sri Lankan firm to sell off its plantation venture here, officials said. Tata has invested in Sri Lanka through a 51 percent stake in Sunshine Holdings Ltd, which in turn owns 58.75 percent in Estate Management Services (Pvt) Ltd – the controlling company of Watawala Plantations. more..

Sri Lanka hopes to speed up oil refinery expansion

Oct 3 (LBO) Sri Lanka is in talks with Saudi Arabia to secure over 500 million dollars to expand the island’s oil refining capacity, with the state oil company hoping to fast track the project. "We are currently carrying out a feasibility study for the project and are also in talks with the Saudi Arabia fund for 550 million dollars to double capacity at the Sapugaskanda refinery," more..

Sri Lanka halves foreign investment targets

Oct 3 (LBO) Sri Lanka may miss its ambitious target of attracting a billion dollars in foreign investments and instead end the year with about 500 million dollars, according to official data.The tiny Indian Ocean Island attracts on average 250 million dollars worth of investments each year, despite an ethnic conflict that has claimed over 60,000 lives since 1972, more..

Sri Lanka logs 8.0% growth Jan-Sept: Treasury Secretary

Oct 3 (LBO) Sri Lanka's economy has beaten most forecasts to lodge a 'near' 8.0 percent growth for the first nine months, the secretary of the island's finance ministry said, with robust performance driven by strong services, manufacturing, construction and agriculture numbers.Treasury Secretary P B Jayasundara announced the 9-month growth numbers, more..

Special Statement by Chief of Defense Staff

Oct 3 (GDI) On behalf of the Security Forces and the Police, I wish to thank all of you for your cooperation and assistance given to us during the successful defensive military actions taken against tiger terrorists in the North and East. Your assistance and continued encouragement boosted the moral of our troops and strengthened their determination to defeat all provocative actions taken by the enemy to sabotage civil, economic and military activities in the country. more..

New habour in West coast to boost fisheries industry

Oct 3 (GDI) Ceylon Fisheries Harbour Corporation (CFHC) will commence construction work on Sri Lanka’s largest fisheries harbour by next year. It will be on the western coast. The Dutch Government has granted Euro 63 million (Rs 7.8 billion) for this project. “We have selected the Dikkovitiya on the west coast to establish the harbour. This will be a huge boost for the local fisheries industry”. more..

Govt to hand over new houses to Tsunami survivors

Oct 3 (GDI) The handing over of new houses for displaced tsunami survivors whose houses were destroyed in the sea catastrophe is to be completed by the 26th December this year. President Mahinda Rajapaksa says that new shelter facilities for tsunami-affected people in Jaffna have already been provided and the housing problems of a small group of people in the south and east are yet to be addressed. more..

A lofty palace and a Buddha's tooth

Oct 3 (DPA) Sri Lanka is not just a destination to spend time on the beach. One of the most popular spots to visit on the island is the rock at Sigiriya and the temple complex in Dambulla. The path up Sigiriya, known as the Lion Rock, is not for anyone with a fear of heights or confined spaces. It's difficult to suppress a feeling of vertigo when you see yet another flight of steps soaring upwards, thronged by hundreds of tourists and locals. more..

Tamil Tiger plot accused granted bail

Oct 3 (CBC) A Toronto-area man accused in connection with an alleged cross-border conspiracy to buy weapons for the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka was granted bail on Tuesday. Ramanan Mylvaganam, 29, faces extradition to the U.S. on charges of “conspiring to provide material support and resources to a foreign terrorist organization and related offences.” more..

Lankans look to Muralitharan

Oct 3 (TN) The ICC Champions Trophy will begin later this week with the qualifiers. The in-form Sri Lanka, despite having to play the qualifiers, are favourites to go the distance. And importantly, the team is working towards becoming a top-class bowling unit with or without the magical Muralitharan. Muttiah Muralitharan is the man the Sri Lankans turn to each time they’re in trouble. more..

Jayasuriya in bullish mood

Oct 3 (ECB) Sri Lanka batsman Sanath Jayasuriya has sounded a warning to bowlers ahead of the Champions Trophy in India, saying he is confident of finishing the tournament on an impressive note. The aggressive left-handed opener played a vital role in his team's 5-0 series victory in England in July, scoring 322 runs with two centuries. more..

Interpol muscle to fight LTTE child conscription

Oct 3 (PISL) Interpol has unanimously adopted a resolution proposed by Sri Lanka to come down hard against recruitment and use of children as combatants by non state actors. The 185 strong Interpol member countries also unanimously upheld Sri Lanka's proposal to use the Organisation's tools in the fight against the recruitment and the use of children as combatants. more..

Govt. hopeful, LTTE wary of talks

Oct 3 (PISL) While waiting in anticipation for the message from the government to be conveyed to the LTTE today by the visiting Norwegian peace envoy Jon Hanssen Bauer the LTTE leadership will refuse to accede to any fresh conditions put forward by the government to resume peace talks, LTTE peace secretariat officials told the Daily Mirror. more..

SLFP, UNP hold third round of talks

Oct 3 (TN) Third round of talks between the SLFP, main constituent of the ruling UPFA and the main opposition UNP were held in the Jayewardenepura parliamentary complex Tuesday morning, political sources in Colombo said. Sri Lanka's Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake led the SLFP delegation and Karu Jayasuriya, Deputy Leader of UNP led the UNP team. more..

Tigers set up own Child Protection Authority?

Oct 3 (LNP) The LTTE which has come under local and international flak over recruiting children as soldiers claimed to have set up a child protection authority of its own. However, National Child Protection Authority head Padma Wettewa said she was not aware of the existence of such an institution. more..

SB praises JVP, sees talks as a positive move

Oct 3 (LNP) UNP frontliner S.B. Dissanayake yesterday said the proposed talks between the UNP and the JVP would be a positive move. Mr. Dissanayake told the Daily Mirror the JVP had made `a great contribution` towards introducing the independent commissions. 'These commissions have now been politicized by the President who was elected largely because of the support of the JVP. more..

An ocean-spanning, telecom-powered Passage to India

Oct 3 (LNP) The Bharat-Lanka optical fibre submarine cable established between India and Sri Lanka by way of the agreement established recently between India`s Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL), the world`s seventh largest telecom company, and Sri Lanka Telecom, not only adds a new dimension to bilateral cooperation between India and Sri Lanka but could more..

SLFP meets UNP, JVP today

Oct 3 (SAMN) The ruling SLFP will hold talks with the main Opposition UNP and the JVP in two separate meetings today to reach consensus on key issues that the country is faced with. President Mahinda Rajapaksa who met the JVPers Monday as part of an ongoing effort to strike a consensus between the two parties however ended the meeting without finality more..

Full compensation for Muttur victims

Oct 3 (SAMN) The Government has decided to pay compensation to families of the Muttur terrorist attack victims within the next two weeks. Disaster Relief Services Minister Ameer Ali said a Cabinet paper has already been submitted to pay Rs 85,000 as compensation to the relatives of each person killed in the LTTE attacks in August. more..

Talks confined to 17th Amendment: Ranil

Oct 3 (SAMN) UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe Monday stressed that the proposed talks with the JVP and other minority parties should be confined to matters pertaining to the 17th Amendment to the Constitution and new electoral reforms. Wickremesinghe told the party’s parliamentary group meeting Monday evening that such talks should not aim at either forming or toppling governments at this grave hour. more..

CMC wary of probe

Oct 3 (SAMN) The Civil Monitoring Committee on Extra Judicial killings, Abductions and Disappearances Monday called on the Government to disarm paramilitary forces that are behind killings and abductions in and around Colombo. The Committee said Sri Lanka’s Human Rights record had deteriorated as a result of these abductions and killings. more..

Railway museum to be set up at Hikkaduwa

Oct 3 (DN) Transport Minister A.H.M. Fowzie who made an inspection tour to Hikkaduwa railway station said that immediate action will be taken to upgrade the railway station to suit foreign tourists. After observing the four passenger compartments which were damaged due to tsunami disaster in 2004 at Pereliya which killed over thousands of train passengers, the Minister said that a railway museum would be opened in front of this station. more..

TNA continues sit-in-protest in Sri Lanka's parliament

Oct 3 (TN) Tamil National Alliance (TNA) parliamentarians continued their sit-in-protest in the well of the Sri Lanka's parliament Tuesday for the fourth day demanding the immediate lifting of economic embargo on the Jaffna peninsula, and the re-opening of the A-9 landroute to Jaffna. Normal business of the parliament was conducted without any interruption, more..

Lankan Govt proposes dates for talks

Oct 3 (HT) The Sri Lankan government has proposed October 30 and November 2 as two possible dates for peace talks with the LTTE, Defence Spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella told newsmen here on Tuesday. Colombo has also suggested that the talks be held in Geneva, he added. Rambukwella confirmed that the government had laid down the following conditions for the talks: more..

Norwegian envoy begins talks with Tamil Tiger rebels in a bid to revive peace talks

Oct 3 (AP) A Norwegian envoy began talks with Tamil Tiger leaders Tuesday, intensifying efforts to revive peace talks and end months of bloodshed, as Sri Lankan police and the rebels continued to exchange gunfire. Envoy Jon Hanssen-Bauer was meeting with the rebels' political head, Suppiah Thamilselvan and other officials, more..

Norway envoy eyes Sri Lanka peace talks, some wary

Oct 3 (Reuters) Norway's special peace envoy flew to the Tamil Tigers' northern stronghold on Tuesday seeking to arrange talks to halt renewed civil war with Sri Lanka's government, amid fears the rebels are planning a major attack. Jon Hanssen-Bauer met S.P. Thamilselvan, leader of the rebel's political wing, in Kilinochchi a day after meeting government officials in Colombo. more..

Sri Lanka delays talks but rules out war to end ethnic bloodshed

Oct 3 (AFP) Peacebroker Norway has struggled to bring Sri Lanka and Tamil Tiger rebels to the negotiating table and avert full-scale war as Colombo sought to delay any talks until at least the end of the month. The Sri Lankan government, which earlier had said it was ready for negotiations after a day's notice, told Oslo's peace envoy Jon Hanssen-Bauer that talks could start on October 30 or November 10. more..

President appreciate the support of Public and Media

Oct 3 (GDI) President Mahinda Rajapaksa conveyed his appreciation of the support of the public and the Media forwarded in strengthening the security of the country. Government Defense Spokesman Minister Keheliya Rambukwella conveyed this message at the media briefing held today. more..

War planes bomb as Norway envoy tries to arrange Sri Lanka talks

Oct 3 (AFP) Sri Lankan jets bombed rebel-held territory in the island's north as a top Norwegian peace envoy visited the area to try to bring the two sides to the negotiating table. Israeli-built Kfir war planes pounded three locations at Pooneryn, about 30 kilometres (20 miles) from where Norwegian envoy Jon Hanssen-Bauer was meeting with Tamil Tiger leaders, the guerrillas said in a statement. more..

Tamil Tigers agree to unconditional talks with Sri Lankan government

Oct 3 (AP) Tamil Tiger rebels on Tuesday agreed to unconditional talks with the government, but warned they will pull out of a 2002 cease-fire if the government persists with its military campaign, a spokesman for the insurgents said. "We have said that we are ready for talks. We have not placed any conditions and neither has the government," rebel spokesman, Daya Master, told The Associated Press. more..

Sri Lanka rebels agree to talks in Oslo: source

Oct 3 (Reuters) Tamil Tigers told Norway's special peace envoy on Tuesday they are prepared to meet the government for crunch peace talks in Oslo in late October, a source close to the negotiations told Reuters, in a move welcomed as "positive" by the government. If President Mahinda Rajapakse agrees to the dates and venue, the talks will come after months of deadlock and weeks of the worst violence since a 2002 ceasefire more..

Tamil VC resigns under pressure from abductors

Oct 3 (HT) The Vice Chancellor of the Eastern University based in Batticaloa, Prof S Ravindranath, submitted his resignation on Tuesday, after the abductors of the Dean of the Faculty of Culture and Arts, Dr Bala Sukumar, said that he would not be released unless Dr Ravindranath resigned from his post. Dr Ravindranath had submitted his resignation to the Chairman of the UGC, Dr Gamini Samaranayake. more..

LTTE hit by loss of territory, cadres, prestige and now revenue agrees to talk

Oct 4 (AT) Latest unconfirmed reports reveal that the LTTE has agreed to the October date set by the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) for the talks to begin. LTTE agreed after Norwegian Special Envoy Jon Hanssen-Bauer went to Killinochchi with two dates and three conditions for the talks to begin. The two dates offered by the are October 30 and November 10. LTTE has agreed to begin talks between 28- 30 in Oslo. more..

Parties to the conflict must stop recruitment of children

Oct 4 (AT) Coalition to Stop Use of Child Soldiers supports calls for UN human rights monitoring mission – urges investigations of child recruitment. Children, mostly aged 14 to 18, continue to be recruited as soldiers in violation of international human rights and international humanitarian law. The Coalition today deplored continuing forced recruitment by the Karuna group, which broke away from the LTTE in March 2004. more..

Foreign participation improves the market as positive sentiments gather Positive peace news to revive investor hopes

Oct 4 (AT) HNB Stockbrokers indicate, both indices showed significant improvement this Week, as the market seemed to be buoyant and major improvements showed up during the latter part of the week. Upbeat market sentiments were witnessed during the week, amid hopes of peace talks to commence as the government receiving a positive response from the LTTE. more..

Responses are positive - Nimal Siripala : Stop attacks before talks - Tamil Selvan

Oct 4 (LeN) The chief of the government peace negotiating team Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva said that some response is received from the LTTE for the two days suggested by the President for talks and sent to Killinochchi through Norway special envoy Hanson Baur. Above was uttered by Nimal Siripala after meeting Norway special convoy. more..

Cellular phone companies stop paying taxes to LTTE

Oct 4 (LeN) A senior security forces officer said that millions of rupees paid by cellular companies monthly to the LTTE have been stopped since last two months. All companies providing cellular services in Jaffna were asked to suspend their services when the LTTE attacked Muhamalai. As a result of this he said the LTTE is deprived of collecting taxes from this source. more..

Government try to protect tax defaulters-UNP

Oct 4 (LeN) The United National Party questions as to why the government has not taken any action regarding the special project audit report related to the government tax management presented to Parliament by the Auditor general on the 389 billion rupee VAT scam. more..

Are Sampur Tamils children of a lesser god?

Oct 4 (ML) President Mahendra Percy Rajapakse received thunderous applause from party delegates on September 4th during the 55th session of the SLFP in Colombo when he announced that the security forces had re-taken the Tamil majority town of Sampur in the Muttur East division of Trincomalee District. Raja-pakse said: "Our armed forces have captured Sampur for the welfare and benefit of the people living there." more..

Basis for UNP-SLFP talks

Oct 4 (ML) Following the third round of talks between the SLFP and UNP at parliament yesterday a number of documents were shared as a basis for discussion. The documents covered the six main areas decided on at the second round of talks as a way forward in reaching a common agenda. Below we publish the documents dealing with the ethnic issue, good governance and electoral reforms. more..

UNP proposes sharing ministries

Oct 4 (ML) Senior SLFP ministers are to seek a meeting with President Mahinda Rajapakse to clarify issues relating to the sharing of portfolios with the UNP in the event of an agreement between the two parties following the tabling of the proposed structure for collaboration at yesterday’s talks. more..

Govt drafts ToR for SPC

Oct 4 (ML) In a clear signal of international pressure paying off, the government this week is holding a series of meetings with UN and other international human rights groups on the terms of reference for international observers within the proposed special presidential commission to investigate human rights abuses in the country. more..

UN Agency Negotiates To Bring In Food

Oct 4 (Scoop) The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has been in constant negotiation with the Sri Lankan Government in a bid to bring in urgently needed food for more than 60,000 displaced people blockaded in areas controlled by rebel Tamil separatists. The Agency is particularly concerned about the very short supply of food in the Jaffna and Kilinochchi area of northern Sri Lanka, more..

Canadian suspect in Tamil Tiger plot gets bail

Oct 4 (CBC) An Ontario judge granted bail to a Canadian man accused by U.S. officials of involvement in a conspiracy to aid the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka, citing his good record in the community. Suresh Sriskandarajah, 26, was released Tuesday after his family posted a $445,000 bail to free him while he awaits an extradition hearing. more..

Sri Lanka rebels want military attacks halt before talks with govt

Oct 4 (DPA) Tamil rebels have agreed to resume negotiations with the Sri Lankan government, but want all military operations against them halted, a rebel website said Tuesday. Rebels conveyed their position to the Norwegian peace envoy Jon Hanssen-Bauer when he met with the rebel political wing leader SP Thamilselvan in Kilinochchi, 320 kilometres north of the capital Colombo on Tuesday. more..