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Lanka hails India's role in the peace process

Mar 17 (MO) Sri Lanka has hailed India's role in the peace process to end conflict in that country with visiting Foreign Minister Rohita Bogollagama stressing that New Delhi was not only "a part and parcel" of the effort but was also very supportive of it . "...we (the government) are interested in a political approach and the Indians are very supportive of that outcome ... I discussed all the details with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on January 31, 2007. more..

Rajapakse sibling to be appointed national list MP

Mar 17 (TN) Basil Rajapakse, senior advisor to, and brother of, Sri Lanka's President Mahinda Rajapakse, is to accept the position as a National List Member of Parliament next Tuesday, SLFP sources said Friday. Secretary of SLFP and Minister Maithripala Srisena has forwarded a letter to the Secretary General of Sri Lanka Parliament Ms Priyani Wijesekera to appoint Basil Rajapakse as an MP, according to parliamentary sources. more..

Sri Lanka official accuses US groups

Mar 17 (BG) The foreign minister of Sri Lanka has accused several US-based charities, including a Boston-area cultural association, of raising money for the LTTE, a militant separatist group in Sri Lanka that the State Department has classified as a terrorist organization. Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama met yesterday with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and other US officials to ask for greater scrutiny of Tamil charities, including the Federation of Tamil Sangams of North America, which has a Boston-area affiliate. more..

Sri Lanka toll climbs amid heavy shelling

Mar 17 (AFP) Government troops and Tiger rebels traded artillery attacks in northern Sri Lanka Saturday as the overnight toll rose to at least six soldiers and a rebel killed, officials said. Security forces lost five soldiers and 23 were wounded in the district of Vavuniya, while another soldier was killed further north in the Jaffna peninsula, military officials said. more..

CID arrests Sooriyarachi

Mar 17 (TN) CID has arrested Sripathy Sooriyarachi Saturday around 3:00 p.m. in Colombo following his summon for investigation into alleged misuse of a government vehicle after his removal from the ministerial portfolio. The arrest comes after Mr. Sooriyarachi has exposed an alleged scandal by Defence Secretary Gothabaya Rajapakse, the brother of President, involving Rs.600 million in the purchase of Russian-made MIG fighter and weapons. more..

Sri Lanka seeks foreign help to bring Tigers back to peace talks

Mar 17 (AFP) Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama on Friday sought international help to prod Tamil Tiger rebels waging a battle for a separate homeland to return to the negotiating table. "The international community should once again seek to prevail upon the LTTE to return to the negotiations and to negotiate in good faith," he said during a visit to Washington, more..

Sacked Lankan minister detained

Mar 17 (HT) The sacked Sri Lankan Minister of Ports Development, Sripathi Sooriyarachchi, who had been a thorn in the flesh of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, was arrested and remanded on Saturday, for alleged misappropriation of government property. Additional Colombo Magistrate, Gihan Pilapitiya, remanded Sooriyarachchi till March 20. The charge against the former minister was that he had not surrendered his official jeep after he was sacked by the president. more..

Brilliant Bangladesh stun India

Mar 18 (CI) It might be tempting to call it one of the biggest upsets, but the manner in which Bangladesh pulled the rug under India's feet at Port-of-Spain, for their second win in World Cup games, came with the touch of the inevitable. Mashrafe Mortaza inspired a clockwork bowling effort, helped largely by a slew of sloppy strokes, before three teenagers displayed confidence, verve and composure beyond their years to turn a tricky chase into a stroll, winning by five wickets. more..

"Crorepathy" Fr. Jegat Gasper Raj main link for Tigers in India

Mar 18 (AT) The Sri Lankan Catholic Church, the Catholic Radio Veritas based in Phillipines, the Tamil Catholic hierachy and its priests have been the main links of the global network of the Church to protect, promote, provide succor and cover to the internationally banned Tamil Tigers. Fr. Jegath Gaspar Raj is somewht different. more..

Dayan Jayatilleke, the new ambassador to UN in Geneva

Mar 18 (AT) Dayan Jayatilleke, academic and well-known political commentator, is tipped to be the next Sri Lankan ambassador to be accredited to the United Nations in Geneva. He is due to replace Mrs. Sarala Fernando, the present ambassador to Geneva. Jayatilleke completed his Ph D at the Griffiths University, Queensland, Australia and returned to his substantive post as lecturer at the Colombo University in December. more..

An Endless Tragedy

Mar 18 (AT) Whatever the outcome of the undeclared Fourth Eelam War may be, the Tamils of Sri Lanka have already lost it. With each passing day more and more Tamils flee their homes, in fear of the Tigers’ brute practices and the regime’s indiscriminate bombing and shelling. The meagre camps sheltering these wretched of Lanka are overflowing; there seems to be a dearth of everything, from money to food. more..

‘Mothers of Sri Lanka’

Mar 18 (AT) “It’s going to be a hot day” Devika pulls the curtains apart to see the weather outside and mumbles to herself while getting ready to go to work. The clear blue sky is decorated with wandering soft white clouds moving in slow motion. The street is nearly empty as it is only about seven in the morning, but would be noisy and crowded in no time. The man next door is playing reggae music, loud as usual. more..

Sri Lanka: Share Market finds support at 2700 mark

Mar 18 (AT) HNB Stockbrokers in their weekly review indicated that what was interesting to note this week was the fact that the market was seeing some support at the 2700-point mark. Whilst the All Share Price Index (ASPI) fell briefly below the 2700- point mark on Wednesday it quickly picked up closing the day at 2738.9 points. more..

Abducted TRO staffers final rites held

Mar 18 (TN) The final rites for the seven TRO staffers abducted by the Sri Lanka Army (SLA)-backed Karuna paramilitary group in January 2006, and presumed murdered, were held on the Saturday, after three days of mourning, sources from Kilinochchi said. Framed memorials with photographs were taken to relatives home in Kilinochchi on Wednesday, 14 March, for people to pay respect. more..

Pakistan sent home by bold Ireland

Mar 18 (CI) A magnificent performance from Ireland, and an innings of real class from their wicketkeeper, Niall O'Brien, sent Pakistan crashing out of the World Cup. Barring the unlikely prospect of Zimbabwe producing a major upset of their own, Ireland, in their first World Cup, are through to the Super Eights. What a St Patrick's Day it has been. more..

Insurers in Sri Lanka say hello to mobile phones

Mar 18 (LBO) From fashion accessory to personal organizer to entertainment provider, mobile phones have become every persons must-have, turning mobile dependant Sri Lankans into a big business for insurers. Mobile phones have the looks for those who want it or increasingly better technology at cheaper prices to suit the most selective customer. more..

Children fighters and victims on both sides in Sri Lanka

Mar 18 (Age) "YOU joined voluntarily, you were volunteers, so now go and tell them the same thing," the big man instructed two child soldiers on the day they were released to their mothers. Ram and Murali (not their real names), both 15, said they were not abducted, they went willingly and when they found they did not like military training and preferred to return to school, they were allowed to leave. more..

Troubled India face up to possible early exit

Mar 18 (Reuters) India are one defeat away from joining sub-continent rivals Pakistan in a first-round World Cup exit after their shock defeat by Bangladesh on Saturday. The five-wicket humiliation followed a pathetic batting display and raised the prospect of two of the three big sub-continent teams saying goodbye to the tournament after starting among the favourites. more..

Precious wizard of spin can turn it Sri Lanka's way

Mar 18 (DT) As the first week of the ninth World Cup draws to a close, following a series of intriguing matches, it remains too early to conclude that this will be a tournament for batsman, fast bowlers, dibbly-dobblers or spinners. The conditions have been varied and this has spiced-up the cricket, providing a little bit of encouragement for all the bowlers, but not to the extent that the batsman cannot prosper. more..

Sri Lanka says no to US Special Envoy

Mar 18 (PISL) Sri Lanka is resisting a US move to appoint a Special Envoy as part of international efforts to pressure President Mahinda Rajapakse’s government to pursue a negotiated settlement to the north-east conflict. The government was of the view that there was no need to appoint a Special Envoy, authoritative sources told The Sunday Island. more..

LTTE denies secret deal, but Mangala reveals more

Mar 18 (LNP) Was there a deal between Government leaders and the LTTE in the run up to the Presidential election in November 2005? Two sacked Ministers, Mangala Samaraweera and Sripathi Sooriyarachchi, say there was one and are asking for a Parliamentary Select Committee to probe the matter. `No one knows the whole story. Only part of the jig saw is known by a few,` Mr. Samaraweera told The Sunday Times. more..

LTTE cadres stranded in Toppigala

Mar 18 (LNP) LTTE cadres stranded in Toppigala are facing a severe shortage, of food, medicine and arms, said Paramasiwam Suresh Kumar, a member belonging to the group headed by the LTTE`s Northern intelligence leader Kirithi, who surrendered to the Sri Lanka Army. Over ten LTTE cadres along with, Paramasiwam Suresh and Sodinadan Jeganish escaped. The two had surrendered to the Army on March 15 and are now under custody in the Chenkaladi Army Camp. more..

R. 10,000 fine for drinking beer in public

Mar 18 (LNP) A person who was taken into custody for drinking beer in a public place was fined Rs. 10,000 by Maligakanda Magistrate Sunil Abeysinghe last Friday. The suspect, Mohamed Piriyan, was charged under the Alcohol and Tobacco Act. Police Sergeant Ratnayake who prosecuted said that the suspect was taken into custody by SI Premasiri while consuming beer at Siemonds Road, Maradana in a manner detrimental to the public well-being. more..

Independence Square being re-developed

Mar 18 (LNP) Independence Square and its surroundings considered to be one of the most prestigious locations in Colombo are to be converted into an exclusive haven for cultural activities, recreation and academic and research excellence. `This would be like an academic zone` said the Director General of Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) Dr. Saman Kelagama. IPS earlier this week laid the foundation stone for its new head quarters opposite the Sri Lanka Foundation Institute building (SLFI). more..

LTTE denies secret deal

Mar 18 (SAMN) The LTTE Saturday strongly denied that it made any pacts with the Government before the run-up to the 2005 presidential elections. Its Military Spokesman Rasiah Ilanthiriyan sid they (the LTTE) had not made any deal with any party in the south other than the 2002 Ceasefire Agreement (CFA). “This is all false propaganda. This is how politicians in the south play political games. When they have differences among themselves they bring the LTTE into the picture,” he said. more..

Rajapaksa’s days are numbered: Ranil

Mar 18 (SAMN) Opposition and UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe Saturday said that the country’s situation is worsening by the day in all aspects with the rising cost of living, high inflation, war and corruption and these doesn’t augur well for the President to continue for much long. He was speaking at the UNP special convention at party headquarters Sirikotha where several reforms to the party constitution were adopted. more..

MR views Port City project presentation

Mar 18 (SAMN) President Mahinda Rajapakse Friday saw a presentation on a landmark Port City project involving reclaiming approximately 459 acres of ocean near the Colombo harbour to be undertaken by the John Keells Holdings conglomerate and the Sri Lanka Ports Authority on a 45-45 joint venture for which the green light has been given according to Enterprise Development and Investment Promotion Minister Sarath Amunugama. more..

Editors Guild president counters Ranil

Mar 18 (SAMN) Editors Guild President Upali Tennekoon, has rejected a charge by UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe that the Guild was silent on attacks on journalists with Wickremesinghe jokingly wondering whether the editors had been `lifted’ in a white van. Tennekoon has made the following statement in this regard: more..

Action against LTTE only a defensive operation: Lanka

Mar 18 (NIP) The Sri Lankan Government has said the on-going action against the LTTE is only a defensive military operation. "The defensive military operation by the Government of Sri Lanka was started only after the LTTE’s abortive attempt to kill the command of the Lankan Army last year," the Sri Lankan Deputy High Commission said in a communique. more..

Traders come hard on govt., want halt to extortion

Mar 18 (NS) The Hardware Traders Association in Pettah said they would resort to more protests if measures were not taken by the government to provide adequate security to its members, the association officials said. Officials on the condition of anonymity through fear told The Nation that they urge the government to provide them with proper security. more..

Buying time in a time of crisis

Mar 18 (NS) It was J.R. Jayewardene who began what was to become a fashionable trend of all party conferences to find a solution to the vexed national question. That all party conference was a non-starter from day one because the major opposition party-peeved at the stripping of Sirima Bandaranaike’s civic rights- opted for a strategy of non-cooperation. more..

Conserve energy or face power cut, warns Minister

Mar 18 (NS) Power cuts will be inevitable for two hours per day at peak hours if the consumers do not curtail the use of electricity, Power and Energy Minister John Seneviratne said. Speaking to The Nation he further said that power cuts will be imposed if the usage during peak hours is not reduced. “The drought that is prevalent in reservoir areas has resulted in a decrease in water levels. more..

Media gets a bashing amidst political turmoil

Mar 18 (NS) The media and its role in the Sri Lankan society came into focus during the past week with regard to statements made by both the government and the opposition. The spotlight fell on the government when they moved to freeze the bank accounts of CBE group of companies of which Tiran Alles the publisher of ‘Maubima’ newspaper is one of the main shareholders. The opposition has taken up the cause of Maubima seriously. more..

Govt. to boost plantation sector revenue

Mar 18 (SO) Minister of Plantation Industries, D.M Jayaratne said that the Government plans to increase revenue from the plantation sector and step up agricultural production above 22 percent. He was addressing officials of the Tea Research Institute (TRI) in Talawakelle last week. He said the focus was to shift, from a commodity based market to a consumer market, in the tea sector with value addition and brand promotion. more..

JHU to inform President of impending LTTE attack

Mar 18 (SO) The Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) will inform President Mahinda Rajapaksa of impending plans by the LTTE to attack Jaffna to create a war situation in the Peninsula. JHU Leader and Puravidya Chakrawarthi Ven. Ellawela Medananda Thera told the Sunday Observer that the party has received reliable information of LTTE preparations to attack Jaffna. more..

LTTE shifts focus to north

Mar 18 (ST) As the Security Forces and the Police Special Task Force (STF) step up their offensive against Tiger guerrillas in the East, the contours of the Government's "war on terror" seem to be changing. Contrary to reports of large-scale ground operations, small groups are continuing to hunt down guerrillas. The only exceptions have been limited search- and-destroy missions jointly by the Security Forces and the STF. more..

High-flyers in double disaster

Mar 18 (ST) It seemed a bizarre mix. Cricket lovers and champions of human rights the world over were paying equal attention to Sri Lanka this week. At a virtually empty stadium in Trinidad in the Caribbean, Sri Lankans beat the babes of world cricket, Bermuda, in their first encounter. In the new bid to become World Champions, emulating the great success of 1996, it was indeed a good start. more..

Billions lost to State in car rackets

Mar 18 (ST) A controversial decision taken in 2002, allegedly at the behest of second hand vehicle importers, to do away with the physical inspection of vehicles prior to registration, has helped criminal elements to register vehicles brought in knocked down condition and even old vehicles with doctored documents. This has reportedly robbed the state of billions of rupees in revenue, in addition to harming the environment. more..

New underworld boss crowned amid ‘high’ protection?

Mar 18 (ST) With the alleged abduction and disappearance of underworld kingpin Nawala Nihal last year, and the gunning down of two of his brothers there after, a new undisputed underworld boss has been crowned with the help of corrupt policemen and some politicians. A former top cop who posed off as being very tough on the underworld, it is now learnt, might have even facilitated the rise of the new crime boss by affording him protection at crucial times and even helping to eliminate his rivals. more..

Prisoner swap won’t lead to talks, says LTTE

Mar 18 (STN) The proposed prisoner exchange between the government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) is unlikely to open doors for direct talks, a top LTTE official yesterday said. According to the official even if a prisoner swap took place, talks between both parties would have to be considered only with the implementation of the 2002 Ceasefire Agreement. more..

India should push for consensus among Sinhala parties: expert

Mar 18 (Hindu) India has a key role to play in creating a consensus between Sri Lanka's two major Sinhala political parties on the ethnic conflict, Sri Lankan historian Santasilan Kadirgamar said here on Saturday. "The fundamental issue is the inability of Sinhala leaders to arrive at a consensus... India's role is to push for a consensus between the UNP [United National Party] and the SLFP [Sri Lanka Freedom Party]," more..

UNP alternative group to work as separate party!

Mar 18 (LT) It is reported that the 18 Parliamentarians who crossed over to the government from he UNP are to work as a separate political party. The group says they have already taken certain measures regarding this and is in the process of having discussions with several small political parties. They said the stand of the party regarding the national question would be presented to All Party Conference. more..

`Sri Lanka deserved the Cup'

Mar 18 (CI) Akhila Ranganna: After the euphoric win against Pakistan, the quarter final; it was time to take on Sri Lanka in the semi-final. And that match didn't exactly go according to the plan for India. The way the team capitulated, the meek surrender, the crowd disruption, Vinod Kamble crying - can you take us through that match? more..

SL Security Forces lift fishing blockade in Jaffna

Mar 18 (TN) Sri Lanka High Command in Jaffna allowed fishing in coastal areas in Vadamaradchy north and east with specific restrictions starting from Saturday, fisheries society sources in Jaffna said. Fishermen were allowed fishing during day-light hours, within one 1km from the shores, and can only use non-motorized boats, sources added. more..

Sri Lanka asylum seekers left in limbo

Mar 18 (Age) A FEDERAL immigration officer left open the idea that 83 Sri Lankan asylum seekers could be allowed to settle in Australia during an official briefing before they were flown out to detention on Nauru. A spokeswoman for Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews confirmed late yesterday that an immigration official did not explicitly rule out the Tamils returning to Australia during a formal briefing on Christmas Island last Thursday. more..

No decision yet on Joint Patrolling by Indian-Lankan navies

Mar 18 (PTI) India has not taken any decision on Sri Lanka's proposal for conducting a joint patrol by Navy's of both countries along the Palk straits, Defence Minister A K Antony said today. "It is only a proposal. No decision has been taken," he told reporters here. Sri Lanka has assured that special care would be taken to ensure that Indian fishermen were not fired at. more..

After hard talk in US, Sri Lanka foreign minister visits India

Mar 18 (IANS) Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama begins Monday his second visit to India in two months, after making it clear in the US that the world must shed 'semantics' while backing Colombo's bid to end the ethnic conflict. Bogollagama, who came to India Jan 31 on a brief trip immediately after taking charge of the ministry, will have two busy days here meeting government and opposition leaders to explain the situation in Sri Lanka besides taking up bilateral issues. more..

Lankan ban to hit women seeking jobs in Qatar

Mar 18 (GT) Sri Lanka’s new law restricting mothers with young children from taking up low-paid jobs abroad is likely to affect their employment chances in Qatar. The Cabinet in Colombo earlier this month banned mothers with children below the age of five from taking up low-end works which would necessitate them from staying away from their family. more..

India slammed after shock Bangladesh defeat

Mar 18 (Reuters) Former players, the media and fans rounded on the Indian team on Sunday, a day after their shock five-wicket defeat to neighbouring Bangladesh in a World Cup Group B opening match in Port of Spain. Winners in 1983 and finalists in the last tournament, India were skittled out for 191 and face a possible early exit along with sub-continent rivals Pakistan if they lose either of their remaining two matches against Sri Lanka and Bermuda. more..

Sri Lanka shelling triggers more refugees

Mar 18 (AFP) Artillery duels raged in Sri Lanka's embattled northern and eastern regions forcing more civilians to flee their homes, the two sides said. Troops and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) guerrillas traded long-range attacks Sunday in the northern and eastern regions where at least six troops and one guerrilla were killed on Friday night. more..