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SLFP to propose abolition of executive presidency

Apr 5 (GDI) President Mahinda Rajapaksa will announce the new constitutional draft proposals of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) on May 1. Announcing this, SLFP General Secretary Maithripala Sirisena said that the proposals would include the establishment of a government system under a prime minister and offer of maximum decetralisation under a single country. more..

Aging population a major challenge for Lankan govt

Apr 5 (Dawn) The clock is ticking fast for Sri Lanka to take advantage of its ‘demographic dividend’ and get young people to participate in the country’s economic future — before ageing hits the population in the next 25 years. Demographers say that over the next 25 years, the share of Sri Lanka’s over-60 population will double from about ten to 20 per cent when a similar occurrence can happen in countries like France and the United States only after a century. more..

Sri Lanka will seek bids for oil exploration licenses

Apr 5 (BB) Sri Lanka, a country that imports all its oil, will next month invite international companies to develop a field that may contain 1 billion barrels of crude, 17 percent of neighboring India's reserves. State oil companies in China and India have already been promised two of the Mannar basin's five blocks. Sri Lanka will seek bids to develop three remaining areas on May 1, more..

Lanka poll shows support for military solution

Apr 5 (HT) The latest opinion poll conducted by the Colombo-based Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) has found that there is great support for a military solution of the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka among the majority Sinhala community, and that such support has risen "dramatically" since the last opinion poll in November 2006. more..

Halt abductions, Sri Lanka and Tigers urged

Apr 5 (Reuters) A chorus of human rights groups have appealed this week to Sri Lanka's government and its Tamil Tiger foes to halt a rash of rights abuses and abductions. Sri Lanka's Human Rights Commission says hundreds of people have "disappeared" so far this year, on top of 1,000 last year. Some see a terrifying parallel between recent abductions in well-guarded, government-controlled areas and a spate of disappearances in the late 1980s when the government crushed an uprising by hardline Marxists. more..

A date with a renegade rebel Tiger

Apr 5 (BBC) The worst bit was when they put on the blindfolds. They were polite about it - apologetic even - it was for our safety and theirs, they said. But it was still nerve-wracking sitting in the back of a battered old minibus, unable to see, being driven at speed over rough roads to who knew where. We were on our way to meet Vinayagamoorthi Muralitharan, better known by his nom de guerre, Colonel Karuna Amman. more..

Sri Lanka's military find powerful bomb near capital; 4 Sinhalese killed in east

Apr 5 (AP) Sri Lanka's military recovered a powerful bomb on the outskirts of the capital, Colombo, on Thursday, while suspected Tamil rebels killed four ethnic Sinhalese in the east, officials said. Five men were arrested in connection with the bomb, a 10-kilogram (22-pound) device that had the potential to cause "widespread damage" if detonated, more..

Sri Lanka says rebels kill farmers as attacks grow

Apr 5 (Reuters) Tamil Tiger rebels shot dead three Sri Lankan farmers in the island's northeast on Thursday, police said, the third time since last weekend that civilians have been caught in the crossfire of renewed civil war. The attack in the north-central district of Polonnaruwa, near a swathe of jungle where troops are fighting Tiger insurgents, was the latest in a spree of extrajudicial killings and attacks as the island's two-decade civil war has escalated. more..

Summary of the Cabinet decisions - 05.04.2007

Apr 6 (GDI) The Cabinet has granted its approval to a Memorandum submitted by His Excellency President Mahinda Rajapaksa as the Minister of Defence, Public Security, Law and Order for the establishment of a welfare division for services and Police personnel under the direct supervision of the Secretary to the Ministry. more..

Sri Lanka opens ceramics R&D lab to enhance competitiveness

Apr 6 (LBO) Sri Lanka’s ceramics industry opened a research and developed lab Thursday to help cut costs, improve production efficiencies and enhance quality, officials said. The lab will help improve the competitiveness of the island’s ceramics industry which is grappling with rising costs and increasing competition from lower cost producers in world markets. more..

Stranded workers demand temporary employment in Jaffna

Apr 6 (TN) Over one thousand graduates from Jaffna peninsula employed in LTTE- controlled Wanni district began a protest on Wednesday morning at 7:00 a.m outside the premises of Jaffna Education department and the Secretariat of Additional Provincial Director of Education located at Nallur, Muthiraisanthy demanding temporary employment in the peninsula until proper transportation arrangements are made. more..

Sri Lankan media group urges Amnesty to drop human rights campaign at cricket World Cup

Apr 6 (AP) A Sri Lankan media watchdog appealed to Amnesty International not to use the Cricket World Cup to highlight alleged human rights abuses in the country, saying Thursday the campaign may exacerbate the situation. Human rights group Amnesty has used the ICC Cricket World Cup currently being held in the West Indies to urge parties in Sri Lanka's decades-long conflict between the government and ethnic Tamil insurgents to respect human rights under the slogan "play by the rules." more..

Next Commonwealth chief should be Indian -President

Apr 6 (Hindu) President Mahinda Rajapaksa is believed to have mooted the idea that SAARC member countries should work for election of an Indian as the next Secretary-General of the Commonwealth. According to official circles here, Mr. Rajapaksa conveyed the suggestion to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during his meeting with him in New Delhi on Wednesday on the sidelines of the SAARC summit. more..

The way to resolve Sri Lanka's political crisis -Ranil

Apr 6 (Hindu) I EXPRESS our grave concern at the unprecedented turn of events in the early hours of March 26, and the Prime Minister's refusal to summon Parliament immediately to discuss this matter. For the first time, the LTTE has carried out an air attack. This means it now possesses the capability to select a target anywhere in the country — access it by air — unopposed, and destroy it. more..

Two air raids, but one pattern

Apr 6 (HT) Mysteriously, air raids on the Sri Lankan capital city of Colombo seem to follow a pattern. The city has had two such raids so far, the first by the Japanese on April 5, 1942 during the Second World War, and the second by the LTTE on March 26, 2007. The two incidents show remarkable similarities despite the 65-year gap. more..

Lankan refugees want NGOs, but Govt is wary

Apr 6 (HT) Reluctant to go back to their places of origin before a complete cessation of hostilities between the Sri Lankan Security Forces and the LTTE, Tamil refugees in Batticaloa district want the government to improve the conditions in the camps by allowing Sri Lankan and international NGOs (INGOs) to work there. more..

Rare paintings lost due to bad planning

Apr 6 (BBC) Priceless historically valuable artefacts and manuscripts at Sri Lanka's national museum in Colombo were damaged by heavy rain while the roof was being repaired, an official said Thursday. Contractors fixing the 130-year-old museum building had left historical paintings housed in the upper floor of the building exposed to the rains earlier this week. more..

Choppy Waters

Apr 6 (ToI) Early this week, political parties in Tamil Nadu called a bandh over the killing of five Indian fishermen off the coast of Kanyakumari. The initial response in Tamil Nadu was to blame the Sri Lankan navy for the deaths. Later, the few survivors of the bloodbath gave Lanka a clean chit. However, the killers are yet to be identified. more..

UAE relief and support projects in Sri Lanka underway

Apr 6 (RW) The UAE is always among the first countries to send relief aid to Tsunami victims in Sri Lanka, said today Sri Lankan Minister of Labour Relations and Manpower Athauda Senaviratne. The Sri Lankan Minister said his country is grateful to the UAE people and leadership for their support to the reconstruction and rehabilitation of infrastructure in affected areas. more..

Sri Lanka aim to smooth over batting cracks after scare

Apr 6 (Reuters) Sri Lanka face questions about the batting depth in their World Cup squad after they struggled to defeat England in a Super Eights clash. The 1996 champions eked out a dramatic two-run victory on Wednesday after fast bowler Dilhara Fernando bowled Ravi Bopara off the last delivery to leave England short of their victory target by the narrowest of margins. more..

UNP avoids voting for extension of emergency!

Apr 6 (LT) When a voting was taken in the Parliament today to extend the emergency by one month, the UNP abstained from voting. 119 Parliamentarians voted for the extension of emergency. In addition to government MPs, Members of the JVP, JHU, SLMC and also the UNP Members who crossed over to the government voted for the proposal. Only 16 Members of TNA voted against. more..

US busts Asian network seeking arms for Tamil Tigers

Apr 6 (AFP) US authorities said Thursday they had busted an arms-trafficking gang, arresting six Asians who had been trying to smuggle weapons from the United States to Tamil Tiger rebels. Singapore man Haniffa Bin Osman, 55, was the latest person to plead guilty in the investigation which saw undercover agents track the alleged arms dealers from the eastern port of Baltimore to the South Pacific US territory of Guam. more..

Prachanda seems to be in a win-win situation

Apr 6 (TT) The belief that erstwhile “liberation” movements can effortlessly abandon their guns and bleak underground existence to enjoy political power wrested through the ballot has always been a guiding principle of Indian democracy. From the mainstream communists who abandoned revolution in 1950 and first tasted power as early as 1959 to ethnic insurgents such as the Mizo National Front, the Indian experience of taming impetuosity has been, by and large, happy. more..

Sri Lanka: Endless War

Apr 6 (Time) Like her country, Sinnathambi Jeevatharsini is beauty torn. Just 9 years old, she has long black hair tied up in two loose knots on either side of her head, and a smile that explodes across her face, as if someone has switched on a spotlight. She's smart, too, likes social studies best, and especially learning about different cultures in far-off lands. Crouched on a mat in a refugee camp on Sri Lanka's east coast, flicking the pages of a schoolbook, pencil by her side, she looks like a normal kid. more..

French court remands Tigers in Paris; Tigers organise a protest with forced signatures

Apr 6 (AT) A Court in Paris remanded 15 members of the LTTE and released 4 of them out of a total 19 arrested on charges of illegal fund-raising. On April Fool's Day 17 members of the LTTE in Paris were arrested. Later two of them were released and two new suspects were arrested. Subsequently another two were arrested bringing the total to 19. more..

Sri Lanka’s accounting watchdog joins global body

Apr 6 (LBO) Sri Lanka’s accounting watchdog has gained membership of a global accounting regulatory forum, the regulator said in a statement. The Sri Lanka Accounting and Auditing Standards Monitoring Board (SLAASMB) was admitted as member of the International Forum of Independent Audit Regulators (IFIAR) at its first meeting in Tokyo. more..

Sri Lanka asked to get house in order ahead of opening up services

Apr 6 (LBO) Sri Lanka is hoping to open its service sectors to neighboring India, but analysts say the country should first get local regulations in order. The two countries are in talks to allow exchange of services, including limited exchange of professionals, under an agreement to be signed by June this year. more..

Fuel prices will not affect essential food prices during the season: Minister

Apr 6 (LBO) The prices of essential food items that have been set a retail price during the New Year season will not be affected if fuel prices go up since all have already been imported, a government minister said. Food items such as chillies, onions, dhal, potatoes, sugar, types of grain, sprats and canned fish have been set a pre-agreed maximum price with traders during the New Year month of April. more..

Photo Essay: Awareness essential to prevent loss from mine menace

Apr 6 (TW) The International Campaign to Ban Landmines won the Noble Peace Prize in 1997. There are 80 countries which are affected to some degree by landmines and unexploded ordnance according to the International Campaign to Ban Landmines. 153 countries have signed the International campaign to Ban Landmines. And at least 40 countries have not signed the treaty to ban landmines. more..

Prevent AI’s politicisation of World Cup Cricket tournament

Apr 6 (GDI) The Sri Lankan delegation met with Amnesty International (AI) representatives on the sidelines of the fourth session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva to point out the possible repercussions of any human rights campaign on Sri Lanka during the Cricket World Cup tournament in the West Indies, a Foreign Ministry release said. more..

'Concerted measures being taken to promote Lanka’s image abroad'

Apr 6 (GDI) Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama said the Government will take immediate measures to develop a cohesive strategy to counter the current disinformation campaign against the Sri Lankan Government with “clarity and credibility”. He said while the Government was conscious of concerns raised by the international community with respect to human rights and humanitarian conditions in the country and had taken a series of meaningful steps to address this situation. more..

Price reductions continue even after New Year

Apr 6 (GDI) The Government yesterday allayed fears of consumers who entertained the notion that the present price reduction of essential items would only be confined to the upcoming festive season, with the firm assurance that the relief measure would continue beyond this period. more..

Govt that doesn’t feel the pulse of the people will never survive – Tilvin Silva

Apr 6 (LT) A government that doesn’t feel the pulse of the people will never survive says Mr. Tilvin Silva, General Secretary of the JVP. The present government is wading away from the mandate of presidential election of 2005 said Mr. Silva. Mr. Tilvin Silva made this observation addressing the 36th Commemoration of April Heroes held at Tangalle town Hall yesterday (5th April) to celebrate the 36th anniversary of the April uprising. more..

We are watchful about the treaty between America and Sri Lanka -JVP

Apr 6 (LT) JVP leader Somawanse Amarasinghe said to the American Ambassador that the JVP and the people of Sri Lankan people will be watchful with suspicion bout the defence treaty signed between Sri Lanka and America until it is made public. Mr. Amarasinghe said the government could place the treaty in parliament for debate. more..

Killing Free Media: The forced closure of Mawbima and the Sunday Standard

Apr 6 (ISL) The Free Media Movement (FMM) is deeply distressed to hear news of the untimely demise of the Mawbima and Sunday Standard newspapers, published by the Standard Newspaper Group. In our statement of 13th March 2007, we first expressed our concern that the financial accounts of the Standard Newspaper Group, owned by Tiran Alles, were frozen along with other business accounts of Mr. Alles, effectively plunging the Mawbima and Sunday Standard newspapers into an immediate crisis. more..

Rs. 200 million given to Tigers: Sripathi

Apr 6 (LNP) Sacked minister Sripathi Sooriyaarachchi came to parliament from remand jail yesterday to drop another bombshell charging that the government gave Rs. 200 million to the LTTE in a secret deal during the run-up to the presidential election. Mr. Sooriyarachchi told parliament that the funds were given to the Tigers through various means even via Cabinet papers. more..

Axe falling on Mangala, Sripathi

Apr 6 (LNP) The SLFP Central Committee has given the green light to the disciplinary committee to go ahead with the probe on the conduct of sacked Ministers Sripathi Sooriyarachchi and Mangala Samaraweera, party general secretary Maithripala Sirisena said yesterday. Mr. Sirisena said the disciplinary committee headed by Minister John Seneviratne had put forward the charge sheets against the two former ministers to the Central Committee seeking its approval to continue with the probe. more..

Low-priced coconuts for Avurudu season

Apr 6 (LNP) The Coconut Development Authority (CDA) is planning to open up a sales outlet in Narahenpita during the festive season. `The outlet will be located in the head office premises of the CDA and all coconut products will be available at the outlet,` said Programme Assistant (Economic Research) Udaya Namalgama to The Island Financial Review. more..

Govt. proposals to APRC on May 1

Apr 6 (SAMN) The Government will present its political proposals on devolution of power to the All Party Representatives Committee (APRC) on May 1, Vesak Full Moon Poya day and May day, General Secretary of the SLFP and Agricultural Development and Agrarian Services Development Minister Maithripala Sirisena said. He said the proposals will be based on maximum devolution of power within an undivided country. more..

Anura for re-merger of N & E

Apr 6 (SAMN) National Heritage Minister Anura Bandaranaike set the stage for another controversy when he told Parliament Thursday the Northern and Eastern Provinces should be re-merged while devolving maximum power within a united country to resolve the national question. Speaking during the debate on the extension of the emergency, Bandaranaike, however, said it was his personal opinion and not that of the SLFP or the Government. more..

AI balls expose ‘biased umpires’

Apr 6 (SAMN) The hotly disputed Amnesty International-led campaign, styled ‘play by the rules’, written on dummy cricket balls targeting the Sri Lankan cricket team, participating in the World Cup in the Caribbean, reveals the growing relationship between AI bigwigs and the LTTE. Authoritative sources said that this was a part of a wider conspiracy against the Sri Lankan government. more..

Third largest travel firm in Colombo

Apr 6 (SAMN) Business opportunities are growing in Sri Lanka and this has prompted the third largest travel company in the world, BCD Travels of Netherlands to set up an office in Colombo. BCD travels have appointed Worldlink Travels as their agents in Sri Lanka. They organise corporate travel starting from airline ticketing hotel booking to back office facilities in nearly 100 countries in the world. more..

Guidance for small-scale entrepreneurs under Jathika Saviya

Apr 6 (DN) The Central Bank of Sri Lanka has taken steps to implement a series of programmes to guide selected small-scale entrepreneurs under President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Jathika Saviya programme. As one such programme, the Central Bank has produced a special manual, dealing with identification of business opportunities, securing of bank loans for revenue generating activities, more..

Sri Lanka discusses investment options with Iran

Apr 6 (DN) Minister Dr. Sarath Amunugama met a visiting delegation of the Mostazafan Foundation of Iran on April 4 at the Ministry of Enterprise Development and Investment Promotion. The delegation was led by Eng. Mohammed Forouzandeh, President of the Foundation who was assisted by the Iranian Ambassador to Sri Lanka Behnam Behrouz and a number of senior officials of the foundation. more..

20,000 graduates to be employed this year: Govt.

Apr 6 (DM) The government has ambitious plans to bring the unemployment rate down further this year by providing 20,000 graduates employment in the private and public sectors. Finance Deputy Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya speaking at a media conference at the Inland Revenue Department yesterday revealed that 18,103 vacancies existed in the public sector. more..

Resign, don’t ask solutions from us, Ravi tells Govt.

Apr 6 (DM) The UNP yesterday urged the government to resign if it could not perform its duties without seeking solutions from the Opposition for each and every issue. “The government has no right to seek solutions from the Opposition. Every time it faces charges of inflation, increasing cost of living or the national problem, they ask what the UNP would do in order to solve it. more..

UNP “dreaming” of new Govt. in New Year: Maithripala

Apr 6 (DM) The government says the UNP is “dreaming” of forming a new government in the New Year, a dream which Minister Maithripala Sirisena says would never be fulfilled. During a rally in Grandpass on Wednesday the UNP vowed to form a government immediately after the upcoming New Year and said the return of Gampaha district MP Edward Gunasekara to the fold was just one in a series of democratic moves by the UNP to topple the ruling alliance. more..

Actor Vijayakanth popular in Sri Lanka

Apr 6 (NIP) Tamil actor-turned-politician Vijaykanth might not have made a significant mark in the hustings in the State, but he is a popular actor among the Sri Lankan Tamils, some of whom even look up to him as a possible future political leader to back their cause. Srikantan alias Kantan, a refugee at the Mandapam camp, is a fan of Vijayakanth. more..

LTTE, GoSL must work for sustainable peace- Jaffna Bishop

Apr 6 (TN) "In the perilous climate where abductions, disappearances and killings have become normal occurrences, people in Jaffna are leading a life filled with fear and mental trauma. Many are seeking danger-filled ways to escape from this open prison. The Government of Sri Lanka and Liberation Tigers must work with sincerity to arrive at a honourable, sustainable settlement to the conflict." more..

Torrential rain worsens Batticaloa IDPs woes

Apr 6 (TN) More than 75 temporary sheds sheltering Internally Displaced People (IDP) in interim camps located in Kaluvanchikudy in Batticaloa district have collapsed due to heavy rain continuing for the third day, causing additional hardships, Kaluvanchikudy Regional Secretary said. 54.4 mm rainfall has been recorded in 24 hours at Friday 8:30 a.m in Batticaloa district, according to Colombo Weather Forecasting Centre. more..