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Stocks fall amid war worries, rupee slips

June 18 (Reuters) Shares ended slightly weaker on Monday as retail investors sold select shares inlcuding telecom stocks, with many players staying away amid the uncertainty of renewed civil war, traders said. The Colombo All Share index closed 0.33 percent weaker at 2,594.50 points, a fall of 8.47 points. The index has fallen around 13 percent since March amid escalating renewed civil war and high interest rates, which have encouraged some investors to turn to fixed deposits and bonds. more..

Government forces, Tamil rebels clash in eastern Sri Lanka; 1 rebel killed

June 18 (AP) Tamil Tiger rebels attacked a group of army troops on patrol in Sri Lanka's volatile eastern region Monday, triggering a battle that left one insurgent dead, the military said. The rebels opened fire on the soldiers in Trincomalee district, an area controlled by government troops but the scene of frequent battles with Tamil Tigers, said military spokesman Lt. Col. Upali Rajapakse. more..

Sri Lankan rebels pledge no more child soldiers by year end

June 18 (AFP) Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger rebels made a fresh pledge to rid their ranks of child soldiers by the end of the year. The rebels, classified as one of the worst offenders in the world for the recruitment of children to fight, made the same promise in 1998 but have since been accused by the United Nations of recruiting more than they actually freed. more..

International panel studies 'decline' of media rights in Sri Lanka

June 18 (AP) A group of 11 international media rights groups launched an investigation Monday into a "disturbing decline in media freedom" in Sri Lanka amid a raging separatist conflict. The panel includes media watchdogs such as the International Federation of Journalists, the International Press Institute, Reporters Without Borders and Sri Lanka's Free Media Movement, or FMM. more..

Sri Lanka president compromise seen vital to peace bid

June 18 (Reuters) A cross-party initiative to forge consensus for devolution aimed at ending civil war will collapse unless Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his party compromise, a top official said on Monday. Rajapaksa and his ruling Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) want to devolve power to the island's minority Tamils at a district rather than higher level, which the government's Tamil Tiger rebel foes have dismissed out of hand. more..

Conflict zones lag behind in housing reconstruction

June 19 (IRIN) Siribopura rises up from nowhere. Amidst the parched shrub in Hambantota District, southern Sri Lanka, all of a sudden neat rows of houses appear as if laid down with precision by a giant conveyor belt. Five kilometers from the coast, Siribopura ("beautiful town" in Sinhalese) is something of a success story in the massive post-tsunami reconstruction effort in Sri Lanka. more..

Lanka bans Tamil resettlement in parts of Trincomalee

June 19 (HT) The government has banned the resettlement of Tamil refugees in Sampoor and Muttur East in the Eastern district of Trincomalee following the designation of these areas as High Security Zones (HSZ) through a Presidential gazette notification dated May 30. Defence spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella told Hindustan Times on Monday, that the civilian refugees from this area would not be allowed to go back to their homes and lands more..

Shell shocked jumbos add to Lankan Tamils' woes

June 19 (HT) With their jungle habitats subjected to incessant aerial, artillery and mortar shelling in the past few months, elephants in the Eastern Sri Lankan districts of Batticaloa and Trincomalee had to flee, much like the Tamils from the villages in the vicinity. "This time, we have had Internally Displaced Elephants (IDEs) in addition to Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). It's time we had an IDE rehabilitation scheme also," more..

Tiran Alles was arrested on political influence- Chief Justice

June 19 (LeN) The Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva told the Supreme Court today that Tiran Alles seem to be have been arrested by political influence. The CJ made this statement when a petition filed by Tiran Alles, stating his fundamental rights were violated when he was arrested while in hospital, was taken up in the Cupreme court this morning. more..

Government to check its strength tomorrow

June 19 (LeN) The Rajapakse government will check their power after 1 1/2 years in parliament tomorrow. A crucial factor is that the three major opposition parties the UNP, TVP and the TNA have already declared that they will vote against the government when it seeks to pass a supplementary budget Rs. 65,756,100 for the new ministries set up after the 17 UNP MPs crossed over. more..

HSZ "announced in May"

June 19 (BBC) A new High Security Zone (HSZ) in eastern Sri Lanka was announced in May this year, the government has admitted. Defence Affairs spokesman, Minister Keheliya Rambukwella, told the BBC that he did a mistake on Sunday when he said HSZ yet to be established. "I was not communicated with the details when I was in Geneva," he told BBC Tamil Service. more..

Mahinda on a 'political witchhunt'

June 19 (BBC) Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa is accused of carrying out political witchhunt by his former close associate. Tiran Alles, the owner of Standard Newspapers Group, said Rajapaksa is harassing him due to his close friendship with two former ministers. Ministers Mangala Samaraweera and Sroipathi Sooriyaarachchi were sacked by President Rajapaksa earlier this year. more..

Jayawardene Disappointed By Atapattu

June 19 (AFP) Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene has admitted his disappointment at the withdrawal of former skipper Marvan Atapattu from the Test and one-day international squad to face Bangladesh. The 36-year-old batsman, who was a near certainty to open in the first of three Test matches beginning on June 25 following the selectors' decision to rest Sanath Jayasuriya, cited personal reasons for his pulling-out in a letter to the board but made clear that he will be available in the future. more..

Affordable tickets for fans in subcontinent at next World Cup

June 19 (AFP) The South Asian nations hosting the 2011 cricket World Cup promised on Monday to hold a spectator-friendly tournament with affordable ticket prices. The pledge by India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh comes after the 2007 edition held in the Caribbean was widely criticised for failing to draw crowds and for being too long. "We promise a spectator- and media-friendly World Cup in four years time," said Sharad Pawar, more..

World Bank to implement e-Government strategies in Sri Lanka

June 19 (WB) On behalf of the World Bank, I would like to welcome and thank you for joining us at this important session. E-Government is a new paradigm shift towards citizen-centric governance, where the citizen is seen as a valuable customer and treated with respect. Delivery of government services in many countries are now done in an efficient manner thanks to the technology, which benefits not only the government, but its citizens and the businesses they serve. more..

Dayan Jayatilleka elected as Chairman of ILO sessions

June 19 (AT) The Governing Body of the International Labour Office (ILO)elected Chairman for its 2007-08 Session Dayan Jayatilleka, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations in Geneva. The 299th Session of the Governing Body ILO also considered a range of other business, including a report of the ILO Committee on Freedom of Association. more..

German Dorsch Group to construct Weerawila Airport and runway project

June 19 (AT) The Directorate of Dorsch Group in Germany has expressed its willingness to undertake the construction of the Weerawila Airport and runway project. Sri Lanka Government has decided to request the German Government to make funds available for the feasibility study of the Weerawila Airport project. more..

Is the International Independent Group of Eminent Persons truly independent?

June 19 (AT) The Attorney-General C.R. De Silva, President’s Counsel, speaking at the panel discussion organized by the International Commission of Jurists on Sri Lanka’s Presidential Commission of Inquiry and the International Independent Group of Eminent Persons, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva on 13th June, gave an exhaustive explanation of the role of the Attorney-General in Sri Lanka and responded in detail to the IIGEP’s public statement of 11th June 2007. more..

“Indian fishing boat was carrying explosives”

June 19 (Hindu) The Defence Ministry claimed on Monday that the Indian fishing boat, which sunk near Katchatheevu on Sunday following a grenade attack by suspected Sri Lankan fishermen, was carrying explosives belonging to the LTTE. A report posted on the Ministry website, which quoted an unnamed “authoritative source,” said: “Controversy surrounds the circumstances in which conflicting reports are received from Tamil Nadu about the explosion.” more..

In Sri Lanka, India’s loss is China’s gain

June 19 (DNA) India may be at risk of crossing a dishonourable milestone in its relations with Sri Lanka. And in the process, it may be rolling out the red carpet for China to waltz in and enhance its level of engagement with the island-republic. India’s National Security Adviser MK Narayanan recently appeared to lay down the rules of the game for Sri Lanka in respect of its arms procurement, when he said that Lanka should not look to China or Pakistan for its arms procurement, but should instead come to India. more..

Why Britain is Pushing for “Newly United” Sri Lanka

June 19 (FI) These are excerpts from the Keynote address delivered by British High Commissioner Dominick Chilcott at the recent BCIS Panel Discussion: The UK’s peace-building efforts in Sri Lanka Given the hostility in some circles to what is described as “bullying” the High Commissioer’s address sets the record straight on what role Britain hopes to play in Sri Lanka. The address is remarkable for its clarity in articulating what future is envisaged for Sri Lanka and also for pinpointing possible lessons to be learnt from the Northern Ireland peace process. more..

US Ambassador Robert Blake: Address to the Accountants

June 19 (TW) Thank you for the invitation by Chartered Institute of Management Accountants to speak at the annual Business Leader’s Summit. Since its inception, CIMA has produced highly-qualified business professionals who continue to drive forward the country’s business environment. It is an honor to be amongst the country’s top business leaders tonight and I look forward to meeting you today and at future events. more..

Environmental issues should be taken seriously

June 19 (KT) I AM sure that many people know why there are wild animals in the forest. But I grew up without bothering to find out the answer to this question, though since my childhood I have been highly fascinated by forests and animals. Newspaper stories of hunters returning with their trophies — a leopard's head or tusks of an elephant — were my favourites. The hunter was my hero, because he killed the 'wicked' leopard that killed innocent deer. more..

Photo Journal: Shakthi welfare camp

June 19 (TW) June 20th 2007 is sixth anniversary of United Nations designated World Refugee Day; a day marked around the globe calling for focus and attention on the matter. In Sri Lanka, the total number of persons displaced after April 7 th 2006 till April 16th 2007 is 301,879 - total number of families 81,399 according to UNHCR. Approximately 1,42,633 Internally Displaced Persons (38,583 families) were registered in Batticaloa district according to UNHCR. more..

Photo Journal: Savukkady welfare camp

June 19 (TW) This is a very cramped camp with canvass tents put up next to each other. There are 1,920 persons-520 families living in this camp. They got displaced from Periyapullumalai, Sinnapullumalai, Pankidaaveli, Unnichchai, Kokkattichcholai, Vavunatheevu, and Karadiyanaaru. The Internally Displaced Persons have been living in this Savukkady welfare camp situated in Aarumugaththaan Kudiyiruppu. more..

Sri Lanka institutional investors lack clout

June 19 (LBO) Institutional investors in Sri Lanka's small stock market still lack the strength to influence managements of listed firms on issues like corporate governance, a top fund manager said. Unit trusts or mutual funds still hold only a small slice of the equities on the Colombo bourse, according to S. Jeyavarman, chief executive of National Asset Management Ltd (NAMAL). more..

India trade boom boosts Sri Lanka transhipment traffic

June 19 (LBO) South Asia Gateway Terminals (SAGT), Colombo Port's privatised container facility, aims to handle 1.6 million containers by the end of this year, as India's bulging trade volumes increase the flow of cargo through the harbour. SAGT's new chief executive, Steven Edkins, believes Colombo will retain its status as South Asia's transhipment hub despite the expansion and recent cuts in tariffs in Indian ports and direct calls there by shipping lines. more..

Sri Lanka look to Trevor Bayliss to build on Tom Moody's good work

June 19 (CI) The early indications are that Trevor Bayliss is cut from a similar cloth to Tom Moody. In the only interview he conducted before rushing back to New South Wales, Bayliss described himself as a "practical kind of coach". The rest of the interview in The Island was music to the player's ears: in a nutshell he seems to want to build on the progress under Moody and not set-off in a new direction. more..

Sri Lanka's youth programmers battle for Microsoft recognition

June 19 (LBO) Sri Lanka's young software developers lack resources but not dedication or talent, says former winners of a students technology competition promoted by the software giant, Microsoft. The Imagine Cup encourages young people to apply their imagination, passion and creativity to develop technological solutions to real world issues, say its organizers. more..

Sri Lanka among the Asia’s leading destinations

June 19 (GDI) Sri Lanka has been nominated as one of the leading travel destinations at the World Travel Awards for 2007, in which this island nation was placed amongst the big players in the region. The Asia, Australasia and Indian Ocean Ceremony of the World Travel Awards (WTA) is due to take place in Bangkok, Thailand on 07 September. Sri Lanka’s nomination as a leading destination in Asia by the WTA, is a great achievement to the Sri Lankan travel trade. more..

LTTE face heavy losses in the East; More and more surrender to the SL Army

June 19 (GDI) The Eastern Province security forces report that four LTTE carders from Thoppigala have surrendered to the Army recently. The surrendees have claimed that they were forcefully recruited to the LTTE preceding many months of various harassments and were threatened to engage in LTTE terror activities. These LTTE carders have been identified as Ranjith (27), Udayajeevadasan (31) and Selvaraja (22). more..

New policy proposals for school admissions handed over to President

June 19 (GDI) Applications for school admission for the year 2008 will be called soon under new proposals by the National Education Commission (NEC) that were drafted basing on the recent high court decision on the Grade one school admissions. The NEC Chairman Prof. A.V. Suraweera handed over these new policy proposals to President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday (18). more..

New Navy Chief of Staff assumes duties

June 19 (GDI) President Mahinda Rajapaksa has appointed Rear Admiral Wasantha Tennakoon as the Chief of Staff of the Navy with effect from May 21, 2007. Rear Admiral Tennakoon joined the Sri Lanka Navy on August 20, 1973 as an officer cadet. Rising through the Naval ranks for almost 32 years, he was elevated to the rank of Rear Admiral in 2005. more..

Buy Sri Lankan to achieve the expected GDP

June 19 (GDI) “The annual import expenditure of the country is over US$ 1,950 million which is twice as much of the annual export earnings. If we stop importing food items and there by preserve the out flowing massive amount of foreign currency the Hambanthota port can be built in two years exploiting that money” said Managing Director Pelwatte Sugar Corporation, Ariyaseela Wickremanayaka. more..

More women's representation through electoral reforms

June 19 (GDI) Under the proposed Electoral Reforms all political parties should grant nominations to a considerable number of women candidates in their nominations lists for Parliamentary, Provincial Council and Local Council elections to ensure more women representation in these institutions. A three to one male female ratios should also be observed when party secretaries hand over the list of national list members of their parties in respect more..

Protective measures for Muslim Community commended

June 19 (GDI) Measures taken by the Government to stabilise the Security of the Muslim Community came in for special praise from the community's delegates at a conference held at the Defence Ministry complex yesterday. A communique issued by the Media Centre for National Security said the conference was held at the request of Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa to discuss measures to strengthen security of the Muslim Community. more..

'Govt with no respect for audit reports stand for tax evaders'

June 19 (LT) JVP Parliamentarian Sunil Handunneththi says that the government with no any respect for audit reports, stand for tax evaders. He said so at a press briefing held in Colombo last Sunday (17). MP Handunneththi came out with facts criticizing the statement made by the secretary to the finance ministry that the government does not lose 36 billion rupees as indicated by the audit report, but only 6.2 billion rupees. more..

Blair’s offer to do a Solheim

June 19 (ANN) Sri Lanka has many friends. They are of many kinds. With some of them, she needs no enemies. Look at her ‘best friend’ across the Palk Straits. India never misses an opportunity to call her little neighbour a close friend. She boasts of historical relations dating back to times immemorial between the two nations. Paradoxically, India won’t help her bosom pal to clear the mess she herself created. more..

Technician charged with murder of compatriot

June 19 (GT) A 33-YEAR-OLD Sri Lankan worker has been charged with “knifing to death” his compatriot in the Industrial Area on April 14. The trial in the case started yesterday but it was adjourned to the end of this month to allow the court-appointed lawyer to study the case. According to the charge-sheet, the knife used in the murder was found at the scene of the crime in the room of the accused in his company accommodation. more..

Suspect 'escapes' from HSZ police

June 19 (BBC) The judiciary in northern Sri Lanka have ordered police to arrest a suspect accused of running away from a police station in a High Security Zone (HSZ). The court made the order after police told the court that Selvaraja Thushyanthan, 27, has been escaped from a Sri Lanka Army (SLA) camp in Jaffna. Selvaraja, father of one, was arrested by military on charges of possessing claymore mine on 29 May. more..

President orders recruitment of 50,000 more youths to forces

June 19 (LNP) President Mahinda Rajapaksa has directed the Defence Ministry to expedite the proposed recruitment of 50,000 personnel to the three armed forces to maintain the momentum of military successes in the east. `Plans are underway to recruit 25,000 troops to the Army, 15,000 to the Navy and 10,000 to the Air Force in the biggest recruitment drive in the history of the country`s security forces,` more..

Tiran allowed leave to proceed with FR plea

June 19 (LNP) The Supreme Court yesterday granted leave to proceed with the fundamental rights violation application filed by Tiran Alles. He had complained that on May 30, 2007, the Terrorist Investigation Unit arrested him without stating a reason and that the arrest was mala- fide and politically motivated since he is a close friend of Mangala Samaraweera who recently had a dispute with the Government. more..

Mahela wants new faces to shine in Bangladesh series

June 19 (LNP) Sri Lankan cricket captain Mahela Jayawardena said yesterday that the absence of veteran batsman Marvan Atapattu, who pulled out from the Bangladesh series, was a disappointment but added it was a blessing in disguise as the occasion would also provide an opportunity for a new face to grab the occasion. `It`s disappointing but we should know the responsibilities and it is a chance for a new player to prove himself and fill the void (left by Atapattu)`, more..

Karu to end State waste

June 19 (LNP) Public Administration Minister Karu Jayasuriya has decided to introduce austerity measures in State organizations. `It is extremely necessary to eliminate wastage, especially unnecessary expenses by State organizations if the public service is to be more productive and efficient. Most State organizations have begun to squander money,` Jayasuriya said. more..

‘It is traitorous to destroy nature’

June 19 (SAMN) ‘Natural environment provides resources for human development expecting nothing in return. It is traitorous for human beings to destroy nature’ said Dr. Jayantha de Silva, Western Provincial Council member and pioneer of the "Pragna Pradeepa" concept, at a tree-planting ceremony held at the Environment Protection Centre in Obesekerapura, Rajagiriya. more..

Katunayake expressway project hits snag

June 19 (SAMN) The multi-million rupee project, Katunayake-Colombo expressway's construction which came to an abrupt halt about one and a half years back was to be restarted after President Mahinda Rajapaksa government came to power, but has once again hit a snag. A senior official on condition of anonymity said construction was first given to a Chinese company but as it had not fulfilled its contracted objections the work was stopped abruptly. more..

CBK coming back soon, security beefed up

June 19 (SAMN) Former President Chandrika Kumaratunga’s security contingent has been increased from seven to 69 with immediate effect, her personal assistant P. Dissanayaka said Monday. Her security was downsized to seven from 198 following a Supreme Court order on May 3. After the reduction of her security personnel Ms. Kumaratunga wrote to President Mahinda Rajapaksa saying that she still was a prime target of the LTTE and the reduction of her security personnel had drastically restricted her movements in Sri Lanka. more..

Rambukwella not worried

June 19 (SAMN) Defence spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella Monday (18) said he was not worried about the No Confidence Motion which the UNP was threatening to move against him in Parliament today. Rambukwella, who is also the Minister for Foreign Employment Promotion said: "I am used to facing challenges and the No Confidence Motion which the UNP is bringing against me in Parliament does not worry me". more..

Mobs attack Southern SLTB buses

June 19 (DN) Buses of the Sri Lanka Transport Board (SLTB) operating in the Southern province came under mob attacks yesterday as private bus operators in the area launched a strike from Sunday midnight opposing a timetable change. According to the Transport Ministry, mobs attacked two state-owned buses deployed in the Akurala and Ambalangoda areas, causing injuries to at least one passenger and damaging the buses. more..

Colombo circular road to be completed by 2011

June 19 (DN) The Government has decided to pay Rs.37 million worth compensation for 50 people who will lose their lands with the commencement of construction of the outer circular road of Colombo. The ceremony will take place today. Minister of Highways and Road Development Jeyaraj Fernandopulle will be the chief guest. The estimated cost for the road is Rs.3300 million while the distance is 28km. more..