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UN Counter-Terrorism Committee express willingness to defeat the scourge of terrorism in Sri Lanka

Jan 10 (AT) United Nations Counter Terrorism Committee has expressed it willingness to assist Sri Lanka to defeat the scourge of terrorism in the country. UN Assistant Secretary-General Javier Ruperez, who heads the UN's Counter-Terrorism Committee, has expressed his "deepest condolences" to the people of Sri Lanka for the terrorist attacks which occurred over the weekend. more..

Reshuffles and crossovers to strengthen Mahinda and weaken Ranil

Jan 10 (AT) Who will be in and who will be out in the proposed Cabinet reshuffle by President Mahinda Rajapakse is the hottest topic in town. The President Rajapakse announced at a media gathering that a reshuffle is on but not a snap poll. The reshuffle is to take place before the end of this week or next. more..

Sri Lanka's main opposition demands government's stand on ethnic conflict

Jan 10 (AT) Sri Lanka's main opposition is demanding the government's stand on the North East ethnic conflict. Addressing a news conference in Colombo on Tuesday, United National Party (UNP) Parliamentarian Lakshman Kiriella demanded the government to immediately reveal their proposal which they believe is the best solution to the country's more than two decade long conflict. more..

SME ceramic manufacturers face big difficulties due to the imported goods

Jan 10 (AT) The Sri Lanka Ceramic Council states small and medium ceramics manufacturing companies in Sri Lanka are unable to carry on their business due to the low priced and inferior goods being imported into the country. The council notes that on top of the rising cost of energy, raw materials and other pressing issues, the unfair competition from cheap imported products has resulted in a large number of companies having to close down their operations. more..

Crossers-over and MR’s political dilemma

Jan 10 (ML) Even as the second bomb blast targeting civilians rocked the south last Saturday and renewed military offensives in the north and east escalated the humanitarian crisis, the country moved in to the New Year like a rudderless ship in a turbulent sea. The deadly bombs alarmed foreign investors who hurriedly sold select blue chip shares and the stock market fell further as the rupee continued to weaken more..

UNP rebels asked to cross over with a minimum of 16 MPs

Jan 10 (ML) The UNP rebels seeking ministerial office were on Monday informed by Presidential Advisor Basil Rajapakse to defect with a minimum of 16MPs if the President was to accommodate them in government. The Morning Leader learns UNP Gampaha District MP Karu Jayasuriya and National List MP GL. Peiris have had several rounds of discussions with Basil Rajapakse during the last few days on the possibility of joining the government and taking cabinet office. more..

Sharp drop in usage of public transport

Jan 10 (ML) The fear of fresh attacks has forced commuters to resist taking public transport, despite the introduction of stringent security measures following last week’s twin attacks. Private bus operators have reported a drop as high as 35% and the railways too is reporting low number of travelers since last week. more..

The costs and consequences of ‘clearing’ the east

Jan 10 (ML) Last week this column ended with the statement that there was a lot to be learnt and unlearnt in 2007. The New Year is now with us and with it the unfolding of an end game. As to who will be left standing and how and as to how long it will take remains to be seen. The point about the learning and unlearning remains, however. more..

Vitharana report jettisons unitary state

Jan 10 (TW) The much awaited ‘confidential’ report of Science and Technology Minister Tissa Vitharana to the All Party Representatives Committee (APRC) on Monday has jettisoned the unitary state concept and proposed the state to be ‘The Republic of Sri Lanka’ and to be described in the constitution as ‘one free, sovereign and independent state.’ more..

Indonesia extradites Sri Lankan wanted in US for arms smuggling

Jan 10 (AFP) Indonesia on Wednesday deported to the United States a Sri Lankan wanted by US police for smuggling military equipment to Tamil Tiger rebels, police said. "Sri Lankan national Pratheepan Thavarajah, was today (Wednesday) extradited to the United States through the Sukarno-Hatta international airport," a national police spokesman, Bambang Kuncoko, said. more..

Sri Lanka: solution only through talks

Jan 10 (Hindu) External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee told Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa that India was of the firm view that a solution to the ethnic conflict in the island nation could be achieved only through dialogue. He said this in an informal talk with correspondents here after meeting Mr. Rajapaksa and other senior leaders. more..

First shipment of Indian food arrives in Jaffna

Jan 10 (GDI) A vessel carrying essential food items from India arrived in Point Pedro port yesterday. This is the first stage of the programme to solve the shortage of food and other essential items in the Jaffna peninsula. The shipment includes sugar, lentils, dry chillies, jaggery and spices which will be distributed in the peninsula through multipurpose co-operative societies. more..

A-9 to be extended

Jan 10 (LNP) The Kandy-Jaffna A-9 highway at Maradankadawela in the Anuradhapura district and at Jayanthipura in Polonnaruwa district will be further extended at a cost of rupees 2673 million. Funds are provided by World Bank with a domestic component. The project will be completed in two years. Expansion will be held from Maradankadawela junction to Habarana Jayanthipura Triangular Madu through Batticaloa. more..

Five new High Court judges

Jan 10 (LNP) In pursuance of government`s plans to de-centralize the appellate jurisdiction by establishing 11 Provincial Appeal High Courts, the Judicial Service Commission has announced the appointment of five High Court Judges. The new judges include Saman Wickramarachchi, K.H. Sumitrapala, W.I. Perera and M.Z. Raseen who were special grade District Judges and the former Senior State Counselor P. Surasena. more..

Snap polls, death penalty on hold

Jan 10 (LNP) Snap polls and the implementation of the death penalty have been put on hold, at least for the time being, President Mahinda Rajapaksa said yesterday. Addressing the monthly meeting with Editors, President Rajapaksa said that although diverse views had been expressed on both subjects, he had no intention of going ahead with a snap general election or the implementation of the death penalty, at least for the time being. more..

Striking CTB union leaders attacked

Jan 10 (SAMN) Trade union action launched by CTB workers Tuesday, demanding salary arrears and due allowances ended in turmoil when members of the JVP led -All Ceylon Transport Workers Union were assaulted by the riot police for trying to storm the Railways and Transport Ministry premises. Colombo DIG Rohan Abeywardene said ACTWU leader Sepala Liyanage and several others were admitted to the National Hospital after being taken into police custody. more..

Dow Jones closes Lankan office

Jan 10 (SAMN) One of the world's influential authorities on business and financial news and information Dow Jones has closed its office in Sri Lanka after a near 10 year operation.With the closure of Lankan office Dow Jones has also suspended its Sri Lanka Daily Briefing. Sources said that the newswire exited from Sri Lanka as part of a scaling down in markets where it does not see great scope in the future. more..

Govt. group discusses former President

Jan 10 (SAMN) Former President Chandrika Kumaratunga became the hot topic at Monday’s government group meeting where a proposal to appoint a Presidential Commission to clear Ms. Kumaratunga’s name of alleged corruption charges was shot down. The meeting was presided over by President Mahinda Rajapaksa. more..

QR600 pay sought for Lankan janitors

Jan 10 (TP) The Sri Lankan Embassy here is pressing Colombo to fix a minimum monthly salary of QR600 for unskilled Sri Lankan workers being hired by cleaning companies in Qatar as janitors. A senior mission official told The Peninsula yesterday that the cleaning companies here are notorious for paying low salaries to their employees. more..

Tamil Nadu to beef up coastal security against weapon smuggling

Jan 10 (IANS) Amid raging violence in Sri Lanka, Tamil Nadu is setting up 12 Marine Police stations as part of heightened coastal security to check smuggling of weapons and explosives to the island nation. The government has sanctioned money for the stations to come up along the winding Tamil Nadu coast and to increase the number of police check posts close to the sea from the present 60 to 100, official sources told IANS. more..

Starting over in Sri Lanka

Jan 10 (RW) For over a year, the Alahakoon family dreamed of a solid brick house from CARE to replace the old home they had lost during the devastating tsunami of 2004. They were so excited and enthusiastic that each day at least one of them would make the long trek between the transitional-shelter camp, where they were staying at the time, to CARE's construction site at Siribopura. more..

Rs. 40 bn to for highway network

Jan 10 (SAMN) The Government will spend approximately Rs. 40 billion for the improvement of the country's highway network, which includes bridges, flyovers and the Marine Drive this year, General Manager of the Road Development Authority R. M. R. Premasiri said. The programme is funded through foreign aid. more..

Security fears hampering media freedom

Jan 10 (SAMN) A number of journalists have been forced to flee the country due to security fears and death threats, the Free Media Movement (FMM) and the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) said Tuesday. They said at least three journalists — Anuruddha Lokuhapuaarachi, a senior photographer for Reuters, Rohitha Bashana Abeywardane, a freelance reporter, S. Rajkumar and President of the Sri Lanka Tamil Media Alliance (SLMTA) and more..

Compensation for bus blast victims' families

Jan 10 (DN) The magisterial inquiry into the deaths of passengers in the Nittambuwa bus blast was held prior to handing over the bodies to the relatives. A police inquiry was also held. The bus driver told the inquest: "I was the relief driver for Friday. I started driving the bus on Friday at 6.10 p.m. towards Giriulla. There were nearly 60 passengers inside the bus. more..

Govt to pay salary arrears to SLTB workers

Jan 10 (DN) The Government will provide all benefits to Sri Lanka Transport Board (SLTB) employees and would pay two month's salary arrears of Rs. 5000 at the earliest, said Railways, Transport, Petroleum and Petroleum Resources Development Minister A. H. M. Fowzie. Speaking at a press conference held yesterday in Colombo, he said that the Treasury has already released Rs. 690 million to pay the December salaries of SLTB employees. more..

Top level shake-up in CID soon

Jan 10 (DM) The CID is to go through a major shake-up shortly with top officials being replaced, CID sources told the Daily Mirror yesterday. It is learnt the posts of DIG-in charge of CID, Director – SSP, Deputy Director SSP are among the personnel to be replaced. A Western province DIG is tipped to be the next DIG-CID. more..

SLMC urges govt. to control Karuna

Jan 10 (DM) SLMC Leader Rauff Hakeem yesterday charged that the Karuna Group is disrupting the relationship the Muslims and the Tamils share in the East. Hakeem raised this issue during the emergency debate in parliament yesterday. Charging that the government has turned a blind eye to the actions of the Karuna Group, he stressed the need to look into complaints made against the group. more..

Up to 10 renegade Tamil rebels killed in ambushes on camps in eastern Sri Lanka

Jan 10 (AP) Armed men, believed to be members of the mainstream Tamil Tiger rebels, ambushed two renegade rebel camps in eastern Sri Lanka, killing several fighters, officials said Wednesday. The Defense Ministry blamed the mainstream Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam for the attacks late Tuesday, and the three sides disagreed on the number of casualties. more..

India, US should keepout of Sri Lanka- JVP

Jan 10 (TN) “India while seeking a military solution to Kashmir conflict has no right to tell Sri Lanka to solve the North East problem without military action,” Bimal Ratnayake, a Member of Parliament of Jantha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), an ultra nationalist Sinhala Party, said in the Sri Lankan Parliament Tuesday morning while speaking on the bill of extending the Emergency Regulations. more..

Sri Lankan refugees fleeing fighting overrun aid camps, UN says

Jan 10 (Bloomberg) More than 20,000 civilians have fled fighting in recent weeks in eastern Sri Lanka, overrunning camps set up by international organizations for displaced people, the United Nations refugee agency said. "Sites are hosting people at twice their actual capacity," said Yoko Akasaka, the head of the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Batticaloa, more..

Sri Lanka gets French aid for satellite mapping of tsunami hit areas

Jan 10 (LBO) Sri Lanka’s Urban Development Authority has sought nearly 85 million dollars in French aid for a town planning system in tsunami hit areas. The loan, which will set up a Spatial Information System to capture, analyse and display geographical information, was signed on Wednesday, the finance ministry said in a statement. more..

A president's advisor advices "Daily Mirror"

Jan 10 (LeN) It is being reported that an official from the president's house has pressurized certain newspapers to refrain from reporting the attack on the United Peoples Movement's inaugural rally that was to be held in Nugegoda yesterday, launched by a group of mobs who had arrived with Deputy Minister Mervin Silva. more..

Murali and Vaas to miss tour

Jan 10 (IC) Sri Lanka bowlers Muttiah Muralitharan and Chaminda Vaas are set to miss the upcoming one-day international series against India, according to reports. The duo, who combined to claim 14 wickets in the recent drawn one-day international series against New Zealand, are said to have requested the break to aid their preparations for the World Cup, which begins on March 13 in the West Indies. more..

Separate Chief Secretaries appointed to the demerged North and East Provincial Councils

Jan 10 (AT) Separate chief Secretaries to the demerged North and East provincial Councils are appointed on the recommendation of Rear Admiral Mohan Wijeyawickrema Governor of the Eastern Province. Rear Admiral Mohan Wijeyawickrema was earlier the Governor of the merged Northeast province. The temporary merger of the north and east provinces, which lasted for16 years, ended on the beginning of the new year – 01 January 2007, more..

Changes proposed in SL constitution

Jan 10 (HT) In an effort to reconcile the sharp differences within the Sri Lankan government's Experts Committee on devolution of power, the Chairman of the Committee, Prof Tissa Vitharana, has come out with his own formulation. But political observes say that Vitharana's proposals are radical enough for powerful and influential sections of the Sri Lankan polity to denounce them and scuttle them. more..

Misery, epidemic go hand in hand in troubled Sri Lanka

Jan 10 (IANS) A widow at 20, she trekked through forests nine-month pregnant, gave birth to a daughter in a refugee shelter and almost got drowned with her baby. There is no end to misery in Sri Lanka's blood-soaked northeast, now enveloped by an epidemic that Tamils are calling a second tsunami. more..

US urges quick end to Sri Lanka violence, rules out military solution

Jan 10 (AFP) The United States urged a speedy political solution to Sri Lanka's separatist conflict as the island slipped into more violence, and warned that a military solution was not possible. The US embassy here in a statement said it wanted the island's ruling party as well as the main opposition to come up with a power-sharing plan that could be the basis for resuming stalled peace talks with Tamil Tiger rebels. more..

Pranab asks Lanka to rehabilitate war refugees

Jan 10 (HT) Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday asked Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa to see that the Armed Forces did not inflict casualties on civilians and take quick steps to rehabilitate civilians displaced by the war. Mukherjee said that war was no way of settling the ethnic conflict and urged them to re-start the process of negotiations. more..

Lanka keen on democracy for Tamils

Jan 10 (HT) President Mahinda Rajapaksa said here on Tuesday, that his government was giving "top priority" to the restoration of democratic institutions and political structures in the war-torn, Tamil-speaking North-East. Speaking to editors of media institutions, Rajapaksa said that there was a "great need" for democratic political institutions in the area, currently subjected to war and the sway of the LTTE. more..

Red Cross condemns Sri Lankan bus bomb attacks

Jan 10 (AFP) The International Committee of the Red Cross condemned two deadly bus bomb attacks south of Colombo on January 5 and 6, a statement said. The ICRC launched an urgent appeal to all parties involved in the conflict to respect international human rights and to ensure civilians and civilian infrastructure is protected at all times. more..

Fresh Sri Lanka violence kills 16

Jan 10 (AFP) At least 16 Tamil Tiger rebels have been killed in clashes with security forces and rival rebels in Sri Lanka's embattled eastern province. At least 10 members of the LTTE were killed and another 25 wounded when troops retaliated against a rebel artillery attack in Batticaloa district Wednesday, the defence ministry said Wednesday. more..

Hakeem concerned of Karuna activities

Jan 11 (BBC) SLMC leader Rauf Hakeem says that increasing activities of Karuna faction in Muslim villages in the east have affected their lives. He also says that Muslims in these villages are worried that offices of Karuna faction are situated near security forces camps. SLMC leader, Hakeem said he told parliament that police did not take action against villagers' complaints that Karuna faction was involved in crimes taking place in their areas. more..

Bank of Ceylon makes a date to bridge pension fund gap

Jan 11 (LBO) Sri Lanka’s state-run Bank of Ceylon plans to sell off shares owned in NDB and DFCC Bank this year, to top up a gap in its pension fund, a senior official said Wednesday. Sri Lanka’s largest bank in terms of assets, is carrying a two billion rupee gap in its defined pension fund at the moment. more..

Deputy Italian foreign minister visits Sri Lanka

Jan 11 (GDI) Italian Deputy Foreign Minister Mr. Gianni Vernetti is in the island on a three day visit. Deputy FM will hold discussions with the President Mahinda Rajapaksa concerning the Oslo- led peace process of the country and international issues. The Sri Lankan government would explain Mr. Vernetti of the government's ongoing effort to end the conflict. more..

European Commission provides emergency assistance to the displaced holed up in Vaharai

Jan 11 (AT) There is a humanitarian crisis is looming in Vaharai, located in the restive East. Food stocks are very low. Access remains very difficult. While a reported 15,000 people remain in Vaharai, over 20,000 have already fled the conflict region and are being supported by the partner agencies of the European Commission Humanitarian Aid department (ECHO) through a wide range of humanitarian interventions more..

SLA intimidates Jaffna media- TNA MP

Jan 11 (TN) “Sri Lankan Army (SLA) soldiers Tuesday night entered three Jaffna based Tamil newspaper offices, threatened the staff, and took away at gun point the press communiqué from Jaffna University Students Union (JUSU) waiting to be published," said Kirushnan Sivanesan, the TNA Parliamentarian for Jaffna district Wednesday. more..

Report ready on Sri Lanka power sharing

Jan 11 (Dawn) Amid gunfire and bomb blasts, government officials are ready to deliver a report by the end of January recommending devolution and power sharing with the LTTE dominated north and east, as a means of arriving at a political settlement with the Tamil Tiger rebels. more..

Sri Lankan military, Tamil rebels clash in east, 3 soldiers wounded

Jan 11 (AP) Three soldiers were wounded during a clash between the military and Tamil rebels in eastern Sri Lanka, the Defense Ministry spokesman said Thursday. Brig. Prasad Samarasinghe said rebels fired mortar rounds at Vavunativu military camp in Batticaloa District late Wednesday, wounding the three soldiers. more..

Lanka to accept EU`s Kouchner despite reservations

Jan 11 (LNP) Despite reservations, the Sri Lankan government would accept controversial diplomat Dr. Bernard Kouchner as a member of International Independent Group of Eminent Persons (IIGEP), which is being set up to oversee Presidential Commission of Inquiry to Investigate and Inquire into Serious Violations of Human Rights. more..

UN to take up motion against SL - UNP

Jan 11 (LNP) The United Nations Security Council is due to take up resolution against Sri Lanka on January 15, UNP MP for the Kandy District Lakshman Kiriella, told Parliament yesterday (10). Speaking during the Adjournment Motion he said there had been no censure motion against Sri Lanka in any international body, including the UN, from the time Independence was gained in 1948. more..