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Co-chairs urge President to improve negotiation package

July 15 (LNP) The Co-chairs (US, EU, Japan and facilitator Norway) want the Sri Lankan government to offer a better political package to facilitate a negotiated settlement of the north-east conflict. They are of the view that the SLFP proposal to confine devolution to the district level would be insufficient. This assessment was recently conveyed to President Mahinda Rajapakse by German Ambassador Juergen Weerth. more..

UNP in deal with Mangala to prune President`s powers

July 15 (LNP) A major highlight of the Memorandum of Understanding between the UNP and the SLFP (M) will be the convening of a Parliamentary Constituent Assembly after a general election to implement a series of amendments to the Constitution. They will be mainly to reduce the powers of the Executive Presidency, restrict the number of members in the Cabinet and prohibit crossovers in Parliament, according to a draft now being knocked into shape. more..

Referendum before elections priority for the East

July 15 (LNP) Thoppigala was the big news last week with the government now preparing to rush legislation to call for fresh nominations for elections to nine local bodies in the Eastern Province including the Batticaloa Municipal Council. These elections have been pending for over one and a half years but the security situation in the province did not make them possible. more..

The govt. workshop cancelled in fear of air attacks

July 15 (LeN) The workshop scheduled to be held today and tomorrow at Kandy 'Amaya Hills' was cancelled suddenly due to security reasons. The participation of the government Ministers and MPs was made compulsory for this meeting that was to be chaired by the President Mahinda Rajapakse. It was reported that this two day workshop was cancelled based on an information received by the security forces. more..

Where is this Ramesh now?

July 15 (LeN) The story of the above photo is one of the reveals made by one Vedan, a LTTE cadre who was arrested when he was admitted to the Trincomalee hospital with a fracture in his leg. The one consuming food on the left of the photo is the second-in-command of the LTTE military wing of the Eastern Province, Colonel Ramesh. He was also the deputy of Colonel Jeyam who was the leader of the Eastern Province after the Karuna's break away. more..

Radar out, authorities downplay danger

July 15 (SAMN) Concerns have risen over the safety of flights to the country with the country’s main civil aviation radar being dysfunctional for two weeks, informed sources said charging that the authorities have tried to downplay the situation. The radar which is mounted on Piduruthalagala was damaged by gusty winds nearly two weeks ago, and sources said in the absence of a standby radar to track the movement of the flights, the air traffic controllers now use an antiquated system of aircraft handling, known as Procedure Control. more..

Colombo on red alert

July 15 (SAMN) The security cordon in Colombo and other parts of the country has been strengthened after the LTTE on Thursday openly vowed to hit major economic and military targets in Sri Lanka. The security boost comes amidst intelligence reports that the LTTE is planning to launch air strikes in Trincomalee and Colombo following the LTTE’s defeat in Thoppigala on Wednesday. “Defence authorities are on high alert and are not taking any chances,” highly placed sources said. more..

Recycling waste gets into gear

July 15 (SAMN) A special project was inaugurated by the Central Environmental Authority to encourage re-using, recycling and proper waste management among the public while ensuring that the impact to the environment by post consumer plastic and polythene would diminish. “The ‘Post Consumer Plastic Waste Management Project’ commenced last Monday and the Treasury has allocated Rs. 51 million obtained from the high levy for plastic raw materials. more..

SL delegation yet to receive Visas

July 15 (SAMN) A Sri Lankan delegation that was to leave for Riyadh Saturday in a last ditch attempt to save the 17 year-old housemaid sentenced to death in a Saudi prison, were forced to postpone the visit as the Saudi Embassy had not issued visas for them to travel. Earlier, the delegation led by Deputy Foreign Minister Hussein Bhaila and the parents of the housemaid Rizana Nafeek, was expected to arrive in Saudi Arabia today ahead of the July 16 deadline more..

Government to take fresh peace plans to India

July 15 (NS) The government is contemplating on a negotiated settlement to the ethnic conflict after they consolidate themselves in the East. Government sources told The Nation that President Mahinda Rajapaksa is awaiting the final outcome of the All Party Representative Committee (APRC) report to send a high-powered delegation to India to brief them on Sri Lanka’s latest peace plans. more..

‘Minister’s utterance fabricated’

July 15 (NS) Highways Minister and Chief Government Whip Jeyaraj Fernandopulle dropped another bombshell yesterday, accusing German Ambassador in Colombo Jurgen Weerth of being guilty of tarnishing the image of the country and further warned he too could be declared persona non grata if necessary. Minster Fernandopulle on Friday accused Weerth of holding a secret discussion with Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe at a five star hotel adding more..

The ‘liberation’ of Thoppigala

July 15 (NS) It is a common perception among those in government that the general public will grin and bear many a hardship on the economic front, if there is a distant ray of hope vis-à-vis the war. In fact, President Rajapaksa makes it a point to relate a story of how he questioned villagers about the rising cost of living, only to be told that if he could win the war, they were ready for any economic sacrifice. more..

TNA briefs international community

July 15 (NS) A Tamil National Alliance (TNA) delegation led by its Parliamentary Group Leader R. Sampanthan is currently on an European tour to brief the international community about the present political situation in the country. The TNA team comprising Parliamentarians Suresh Premachandran, S. Adaikalanathan, Gajen Ponnambalam and S. Senadhirajah left the island last week and are expected to return next month, a TNA spokesman said. more..

Crackdown on errant foreign job agents

July 15 (SO) The Foreign Employment and Promotion Ministry on Friday directed officials to crackdown all errant foreign employment agents who have already sent underage male and female Sri Lankan workers for foreign employment. This directive was made following news received by the Government that a 19-year-old Lankan maid Rizana Nasik who is now facing the death penalty in Saudi Arabia for the alleged murder of a four-month-old Saudi boy while bottle feeding. more..

Govt. to setup economic zone in Trincomalee

July 15 (SO) The government together with the private sector is planning to set up a 1,600 acre economic zone in Trincomalee to launch large industries, Deputy Director General Intrastructure (BOI) L. Dickman told the Sunday Observer. There is a sharp increase in investors in the clothing industry. Board of investment (BOI) in these fields are about to be initiated in the North East. more..

War on media to defuse Tiger deal

July 15 (ST) Even if the war with Tiger guerrillas is over in the East, for the Mahinda Rajapaksa administration there seemed many other wars are still in store. The war on the Media was nearly declared this week. It came about when the agenda for this Wednesday's Cabinet meeting was listed. That was draft legislation that incorporated provisions from the previous Draconian criminal defamation laws and other punitive provisions for those who were supposedly endangering the country's "national security". more..

Toppigala: A victory but bitter battles ahead

July 15 (ST) Compared to some of their Asian counterparts, there is a distinct difference between those in the Sri Lankan Security Forces and the Police, including the Special Task Force (STF). Whatever Government is in power, whatever task is handed down to them, they execute it with deep commitment and dedication. This is both during war and peace. No questions are asked, not even from their own superiors. This is exactly what they did in the battlefields of Batticaloa west. more..

CBK’s security restored

July 15 (ST) Former President Chandrika Kumaratunga’s security has been restored after it was slashed earlier this year. A spokesman for the former President’s office said the government after reviewing the former President’s security, has decided to provide 69 security personnel. The former President whose security was reduced to seven police officers in May following a Supreme Court ruling stating that her retirement entitlements be confined to what she was legally entitled to. more..

Colombo varsity de-listing spurs need for upgrading

July 15 (ST) New measures will be taken to upgrade the status of the universities after Colombo University was de-listed from the top 100 universities in Asia, UGC Chairman Prof. Gamini Samaranayake said. The ranking was conducted by Asiaweek magazine and Colombo University which was placed 77th in the Best Universities of Asia list in 2000 is not among the top 100 universities now. more..

Plenty to learn from Sri Lanka, says Bangladesh coach

July 15 (CI) Shaun Williams, Bangladesh's interim coach, has said that the team must learn lessons from their defeats against Sri Lanka if they want to avoid further humiliation at the Test level. Bangladesh were thoroughly outplayed in the Test series, losing each of the three matches by an innings. "We don't have enough to challenge top-shelf Test teams," Williams said. "Sri Lanka allowed us nothing and that's what you expect from a top-quality team. more..

SLFP calls for explanation from Samaraweera

July 15 (TN) The Disciplinary Committee of the SLFP has called Mr. Mangala Samaraweera for his written explanation as to why he should not be subjected to inquiry for violating party discipline, political sources in Colombo said. Sacked ministers Mr.Mangala Samaraweera and Mr.Sripathi Sooriyarachchi crossed over to the opposition few months ago and later formed a new political group called SLFP-Peoples Wing. more..

Parliament area to be declared HSZ

July 15 (TN) The area surrounding the Sri Lanka Parliamentary complex located in Sri Jayawardanapura is to be gazetted as high security zone (HSZ) due to heightened threats of attacks, parliamentary sources in Colombo said. A report that would facilitate the process is to be submitted to the Speaker Mr.W.J.M.Lokkubandara. Security personnel are already deployed to demarcate the area, which comes under the HSZ. more..

Sri Lanka toasts its favourite Tamil Muralitharan

July 15 ((AFP) Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse saluted Muttiah Muralitharan as the strife-torn nation on Sunday celebrated the spin wizard's incredible feats. Muralitharan, 35, became only the second bowler after Australian Shane Warne to claim 700 Test wickets on Saturday as Sri Lanka hammered Bangladesh by an innings and 193 runs to sweep the three-match series. more..

Police find 4 bodies, blindfolded and shot in northern Sri Lanka

July 15 (AP) Police recovered the bodies of four people blindfolded and shot dead in the country's north as soldiers found 59 mortar bombs in an eastern village where troops had routed Tamil rebels earlier this year, officials said Sunday. The bodies were found in Thavasikulam village in northern Vavuniya district, said Ranjan Senanayake a local police officer. He said the victims have not been identified and that they could have been killed elsewhere and the bodies dumped in Thavasikulam. more..

Sri Lanka small business credit enhanced by US

July 15 (LBO) A US government agency is giving credit guarantees to small Sri Lankan businesses to increase their access to loans from a specialized leasing firm, the US embassy in Colombo said. The guarantee would be given for up to 3 million US dollars (330 million Sri Lanka rupees) of money lent by Lanka Orix Leasing Company (LOLC), a listed financial firm. more..

Sri Lanka's war on waterfront gets Japanese push

July 15 (AFP) Two Japanese men are neck deep in water at Sharks' Cove opening a new front in Sri Lanka's battle against one of its biggest killers -- water. The two lifesaving experts have been teaching 16 men how to save people from drowning, one of the island's top causes of death, aside from traffic accidents and the 35-year-old separatist conflict. more..

10 soldiers killed in clash with rebels in northern Sri Lanka, military says

July 15 (AP) Sri Lankan soldiers clashed with Tamil Tiger rebels in the country's north on Saturday, leaving 10 troops dead, while warplanes pounded a rebel camp with airstrikes, the military said. The fighting erupted when soldiers attacked and neutralized a rebel mortar position from where they were firing at government troops in Vavuniya district, said military spokesman Brig. Prasad Samarasinghe. more..

Fusion necessary between legislative and executive mandates of 2004 and 2005

July 16 (FI) In pursuit of a sustainable solution to the ethnic issue, the current electoral or popular mandate has been interpreted by various parties to suit their views on the issue. In case a consensus is reached at least among those wielding political power, the eventual solution will have to be one that can be upheld and defended as being within the mandate given by the electorate or the constituency, unless it is to be approved specifically through a referendum. more..

Rizana: 'No imminent danger'

July 16 (BBC) There is no imminent danger to the life of teenage Sri Lankan girl in death row in Saudi Arabia, authorities said. Deputy Foreign Minister Hussein Bahila told BBC Sandeshaya that Sri Lanka government has filed an appeal against the death sentence on Saturday."I can assure you that there is no imminent danger to Rizana's life as now it is before the Appeals Court," the minister said. more..

'Hungry' Murali may extend career

July 16 (BBC) Sri Lanka spinner Muttiah Muralitharan may play on for another four years to achieve 1,000 wickets in Test cricket. Muralitharan, 35, reached 700 - eight short of Shane Warne's world record - as Sri Lanka beat Bangladesh by an innings to seal a 3-0 series triumph. "It is a big achievement taking 700 wickets but I think I can achieve a little bit more," Muralitharan said. more..

Sri Lanka's displaced need greater assistance, urges un refugee official

July 16 (AT) A senior United Nations refugee agency official has urged the Sri Lankan Government to step up its efforts to aid the displaced by allocating land and allowing them to move out of welfare centres they have been living in for over two decades. Judy Cheng-Hopkins, Assistant High Commissioner for Operations of the United Nations High Commission foe Refugees, met with top Sri Lankan officials this week more..

Kotakadeniya admits the sale JHU monks sell their vehicle permits

July 16 (LD) The MP monks of the JHU have sold the duty free vehicle permits received by them as parliamentarians in contravention of the permit regulations. The monks have said that the monies collected by selling the permits were transferred to the party account. The government offers duty free vehicle permits to parliamentarians and other state officials for official use. more..

Alleged Tamil criminal won't be deported -- yet

July 16 (NP) A reputed Tamil gang leader known for his love of AK-47 assault rifles has been given a reprieve in his lengthy fight against deportation in a court ruling that ordered the federal government to reconsider whether he faces torture in his native Sri Lanka. Jothiravi Sittampalam, whom the government maintains poses a threat to the safety of Canadians because of his involvement in organized crime, has been convicted of several crimes in Canada and investigated for many more, including attempted murder. more..

Sri Lanka to adjust fuel prices monthly

July 16 (LBO) Sri Lanka will adjust fuel prices monthly on a transparent formula to cut losses in petroleum utilities an official said, which is expected reduce exchange rate pressure and avoid build-ups of macro-economic imbalances. Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) Chairman Ashantha de Mel says a cabinet sub-committee on energy had agreed to monthly price adjustments, and the last price increase was made on that basis. more..

The actual role played by Colvin.R de Silva in drafting the 1972 constitution

July 16 (FI) [EDITORS NOTE: A lively debate was conducted recently in the columns of “the Sunday Island” on the role of Dr. Colvin R de Silva in making the Republican Cnstitution of 1972. Among the issues discussed were the promulgation of the Unitary state, the deletion of the Soulbury constitution’s Section 29, constitutional enthronement of Sinhala as official language, elevated constitutional status of Buddhism, abolition of senate etc. more..

SLA shells explode in Pu'liyangku'lam hospital

July 16 (TN) Patients and staff of Pu'liyangku'lam hospital in LTTE held area in Vavuniyaa district fled to save their lives when Sri Lanka Army (SLA) launched heavy, sustained rocket fire, on the hospital Monday 00:30 a.m., sources in Vanni said. The SLA rocket fire caused severe damage to the hospital buildings while completely destroying the electricity generator of the hospital and the transformer located in front of the hospital. more..

Sri Lanka stocks slide 1.5% losing Rs23bn in value

July 16 ((LBO) Sri Lanka shares plunged 1.5 percent Monday wiping out 23 billion rupees from stock values, dealers said. The week All Share Price Index closed 37.99 points (1.54 percent) lower at 2,425.96 while the Milanka Index shed 57.47 points (1.69 percent) to close at 3,343.45, data on the Colombo Stock Exchange website said. Market capitalization fell to 785.2 billion rupees from 808.7 billion rupees. more..

Lawyers meet condemned Sri Lankan girl: rights body

July 16 (LBO) Lawyers hired to file an appeal for the condemned Sri Lankan teenager Rizana Nafeek in Saudi Arabia have met the girl and started proceedings, the rights body that raised funds to fight her case said Monday. The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) said representatives of the legal firm Kateb Fahad Al-Shammari, had travelled to Dawadimi Jailhouse, where the girl is held and would escort her to a Notary Public to issue a power of attorney. more..

Delay in issuing visas to Sri Lankan team to enter Saudi a puzzle

July 16 (AT) Saudi Arabian Embassy in Sri Lanka has so far not issued the necessary visa's for the Sri Lankan team, including the Deputy Foreign Minister, to enter Saudi Arabia and make representations on behalf of the 19-year -old Sri Lankan House maid, Rizana Nafeek, sentenced to beheading. The visa applications were made a week ago and the delay is yet to be explained. more..

Tourism ministry setup a Special Advisory Unit benefiting hoteliers facing difficulty

July 16 (GDI) The Ministry of Tourism has set up a special unit to clarify the issues related to the Government’s recently declared relief measures setup with the intention of uplifting the Tourism industry. The relief measures were declared with the approval of the Finance Ministry after discussions with local and foreign intellectuals, private sector entrepreneurs and other relevant parties. more..

Nagenahira Navodaya- a massive development project in East

July 16 (GDI) With the vision of paying tribute to the valiant soldiers who contributed their utmost efforts to liberate the Eastern province, the Government will host a nation wide ceremony on the 19th of July. Subsequent to this, the Government will launch a massive development programme for the multi-ethnic community living in Eastern province of the country. more..

Early steps to facilitate resettled in East

July 16 (GDI) Government has taken immediate steps to facilitate the resettled in Vellavely and Pattipola, to start their livelihoods in the resettled areas. Accordingly the Government has taken steps to provide all requirements for the livelihoods of the people, who are mainly employed in agriculture and fishing. They are being provided with agricultural apparatus, seed material, fertilizer, agro-chemicals and fishing gear. more..

Colombo Fire Brigade gets new vehicles

July 16 (GDI) Colombo Fire Brigade has been provided with a new set of vehicles which includes some sophisticated ambulances, by the Ministry of Local Government and Provincial Councils. This grant has been made as a part of the Ministry’s latest development project assisted by the Netherlands Government. Grant also included Two Backhoe vehicles, four high-tech ambulances each costing around six million rupees, two transport vehicles and one command vehicle. more..

UN warns LTTE on recruitment of child soldiers

July 16 (GDI) The LTTE has been severely warned by the UN Security Council’s Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict on the recruitment of child soldiers. The UN Working Group said that the LTTE will have to face grave consequences unless the recruitment is stopped immediately. While strongly condemning the continuous recruitment and use of child soldiers and all other violations and abuses committed against children by LTTE, more..

Fresh clashes between army and Tigers erupt

July 16 (ANN) Six confrontations between the Sri Lankan Army and the militant Tamil Tigers over the weekend have revealed the presence of a sizable Tiger grouping scattered in the jungles of eastern Sri Lanka. Troops fired at a group of Tamil Tigers who had crossed the main supply route at Ransaratenna in the early hours of Sunday (July 15). more..

Thoppigala and the choices beyond

July 16 (LN) By all yardsticks, this should have been President Rajapaksa’s political week. Thoppigala was captured, even though there were some conflicting reports after the capture, when Brigadier Prasad Samarasinghe said that “there are some pockets of resistance, where the fighting is still going on.” But of course it was not entirely his political week. That was to be expected. more..

This Government will have to come down definitely

July 16 (LN) In an interview with LAKBIMANEWS staffer Jayantha Sri Nissanka, the leader of the JVP, Somawansa Amarasinghe said that the JVP ties with the SLFP were over. Somawansa also added that the JVP has begun a recruitment drive with an ultimate view of boosting the strength of the JVP sponsored National Front to bring down the present corrupt Government and form a new Government sometime in the future. more..

How Thoppigala FELL

July 16 (LN) Of course, there are differences of opinion over the strategic importance of Thoppigala. Yet, there is no dispute that the military action was the culmination of the success of unique military strategy, adopted in the east since the military action in Sampur. For almost a decade, the LTTE controlled pockets of the East. Security forces identified LTTE held pockets in the East as sectors. more..

Who is the new Reporter?

July 16 (LN) A certain business weekly has reported that the stinky Criminal Defamation Law(CDL) didn’t make it to Cabinet this week because wiser counsel had prevailed. But wait... that is not the story. We already know that Mahinda Rajapaksa - that one-time paladin of media freedom - had snuck the CDL idea into Cabinet the previous week but had deferred it because a measly total of two ministers had protested. But that still isn’t the story. more..

Tiger aircraft sighted?

July 16 (LNP) A suspected LTTE aircraft had been sighted over the Kokavil area and North of Trincomalee on Friday evening, defence sources said. The radar of a Navy Dvora patrolling the Kokavil sea had detected the unidentified craft and informed the Air Force, a military source said. The object had proceeded from the sea towards land and disappeared from the radar monitor, a senior naval official said. more..