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Ceasefire is only on paper, says Rajapaksa

Mar 4 (TI) President Mahendra Mahinda Rajapaksa is a hard-boiled southern politician who has fought his way through Sri Lanka’s politics dominated for years by the Colombo elite. In his hands now lies a crucial decision on which will depend whether peace can be restored to the nation caught in an unending strife. more..

Moody upbeat on World Cup chances

Mar 4 (BBC) Sri Lanka coach Tom Moody believes his side have a great chance of winning a wide-open World Cup in the Caribbean. Sri Lanka, champions in 1996, are among the favourites to win the tournament, which kicks off on 13 March. "Sri Lanka have as good a chance as any to win this World Cup. It's a cliché, but it is really open," said the Australian, a World Cup winner in 1999. more..

Accusations for HE & Basil through secret letter by Sripathi Sooriyaarachchi

Mar 4 (LeN) am writing to you because of the love and respect I have for our country, the SLFP and for you. As one of the six leaders who managed your election campaign, I risked my life to ensure that you would become the President. We did it with the hope that you would develop Sri Lanka, ensure and protect the well being of the people and secure the future of our beloved Sri Lanka Freedom Party. more..

A Danger Signal

Mar 4 (AT) The brazen attack on a group of Western diplomats by the LTTE and the intriguing reaction of the international community to that attack are timely reminders of a reality many of us would like to gloss over. The LTTE cannot be trusted to play by any book of rules; Vellupillai Pirapaharan (a.k.a. Sun God) works according to no code but his own. more..

Acrimony flares, US says diplomats not LTTE’s target

Mar 4 (TN) Amid growing acrimony within the Sri Lankan government over the LTTE mortar attack Tuesday on military helicopters carrying foreign ambassadors and UN officials to Batticaloa district, the American ambassador to Sri Lanka, Robert O. Blake, contradicted Colombo’s assertion that the Tigers had tried to assassinate the diplomats. more..

"Sri Lanka is our Motherland. We respect the constitution, the President and the government" -- Col Karuna

Mar 4 (AT) Vinayamoorthy Muralitharan (a.k.a. Colonel Karuna), leader of the TMVP, made an unexpected and rare appearance at the passing out parade of the latest batch of TMVP cadres held at an undisclosed military base in the east. According to the cadres his visit was a pleasant surprise to them. He spoke to each and every one of them and gave them a patient hearing. more..

The 1996 World Cup was bad for SL cricket: Ranatunga

Mar 4 (CI) Arjuna Ranatunga, the former Sri Lankan captain, has said that winning the World Cup in 1996 was the worst thing that happened to Sri Lankan cricket. "As a country it was the best thing that happened [winning the 1996 World Cup] but to our cricket it was the worst thing to happen because it opened the door for all unwanted elements to get involved in cricket administration," said Ranatunga. more..

In-form players will make the difference: Moody

Mar 4 (CI) Tom Moody, Sri Lanka's coach, has singled out Upul Tharanga, Chamara Silva and Lasith Malinga as key members of Sri Lanka's World Cup campaign. According to Moody, the trio has come through with some incredible performances over the last 12 to 18 months that have given Sri Lanka the right balance in the batting and bowling departments. more..

No major financial deal inked

Mar 4 (LNP) President Mahinda Rajapaksa who will be arriving in the country today from his state visit to China has witnessed the signing of eight agreements between the two countries. However the President has failed to secure any new financial aid or grant agreement with the Chinese government during his one week state visit to China with a record delegation that included 266 members. more..

Lanka Internet goes bust

Mar 4 (LNP) Internet and telecommunications service provider, Lanka Internet Services Ltd has gone bankrupt and unceremoniously disappeared into thin air with senior management of the company jumping ship and unable to be located. An estimated 3000 to 4000 of its clients have been affected with the abrupt closing of the business and were caught off guard by the loss of their services. more..

Throwing the book at students

Mar 4 (LNP) Thousands of students, it is said, will not be able to sit the GCE (A/L) examination this year, as the Ministry of Education has decided to give full cry to the eighty-per-cent attendance rule. The Ministry may argue that a student who has not attended school for a stipulated period of time cannot be considered ready to face an examination, where he or she is tested for what he or she has learnt in school. more..

Kidnappings continue unabated

Mar 4 (SAMN) Western People’s Front Leader Mano Ganeshan said Saturday the number of abductions and extra-judicial killings in Colombo and suburbs has increased over the past few weeks and now the total abductions stand at 78 with 50 still missing. According to the information collected by the Civil Monitoring Committee set up to monitor the abductions and extra-judicial killings in Colombo and suburbs, of which Ganeshan is a member, 12 abductees were found dead and 16 others were rescued after paying a ransom. more..

SLFP ponders expelling dissidents, as intra-party turmoil worsens

Mar 4 (TN) Speculation is rife in political circles in Colombo that two dissident SLFP parliamentarians, Mangala Samaraweera and Sripathi Sooriyarachchi, the sacked ministers, are to be expelled from the party, after President Mahinda Rajapakse returns from his seven-day official visit to China on Sunday evening. The SLFP is the main constituent of the ruling UPFA government, sources said. more..

Plot to kill Gotabhaya uncovered

Mar 4 (SAMN) Information about a plot to assassinate Defence Ministry Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa by poisoning him, using some individuals who had left the Navy, had been uncovered by the military intelligence units. All information regarding the alleged assassination plot had been handed over to the Defence Minstry Secretary. more..

Joseph Michael says UNP stronger now

Mar 4 (SAMN) The United National Party is stronger than before and no harm will come to it even after a number of members crossed over to join the government. But the government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa will have to face serious problems in the near future Chief Opposition Whip Joseph Michael Perera said Saturday. more..

Hot pursuit ends in explosive find

Mar 4 (SAMN) The Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) has intensified surveillance operations in the Exclusive Economic Zone which is 200 nautical miles off the Sri Lanka coast in a bid to curtail the LTTE’s illegal arms smuggling operations. The move comes in the backdrop of the Sri Lanka Navy destroying a Tamil-Tiger-owned vessel which was trafficking arms 185 nautical miles south of the Dondara Point in Matara on Wednesday (February 28). more..

SLFP, JHU delay proposals: APRC on hold

Mar 4 (SAMN) The failure of the SLFP and JHU to submit their proposals to the All Party Representative Committee (APRC) has delayed the compilation of a final report by the committee. The minister pointed out that until all the parties submitted their proposals, the committee could not be convened and added he was hopeful that these two parties would submit their proposals at least this week to convene the meeting. more..

Labour Dept. to crack whip on EPF defaulters

Mar 4 (SO) Private sector employers who violate labour laws, by not remitting Employees Provident Fund (EPF) deductions to the Central Bank will be prosecuted. It has been found that more than 45 per cent of private sector institutions have not positively followed this Labour rule and instead are utilising the EPF moneys on various other ventures. more..

Prof Vitharana to brief Malwatte prelate on APRC progress

Mar 4 (SO) Minister of Science and Technology and Chairman of the All Party Representative Committee Prof Tissa Vitharana will brief the Prelate of the Malwatte Chapter, the Most Ven Thibbotuwawe Siddhartha on the progress made by the APRC on its initiative in the political parties represented in Parliament presenting their proposals in finding a political solution to the North-East crisis. more..

Bandula rejects allegations that he tried to create monopolies

Mar 4 (NS) Trade, Consumer Services and Co-operatives Minister Bandula Gunawardena says that he will gazette a list of essential food items by next month and tag them with a maximum price in order to bring down the cost of living. Rejecting allegations by certain Traders’ Organizations that he was trying to create monopolies, the Minister pointed out that he was acting within the available legal provisions and the open economic fundamentals with more..

Suffer the IDPs while war rages

Mar 4 (NS) Sneha a little girl aged 8 has come to Kirimutty Camp with her parents who was caught to our eyes cooking lunch for her parents and herself, when we visited the Kirimutty Camp. The latter is one of the camps the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) has set up to provide shelter to internally displaced persons It was quite hard to believe that this 8 year- old girl is capable of doing all household chores of the day and cook a full meal for her parents and herself. more..

Disaster management Minister taking heat for near disaster

Mar 4 (NS) Questions are now being raised in political circles as to who should take responsibility for the near mishap on Tuesday involving several foreign diplomats and Disaster Management Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe at the Webber Stadium in Batticaloa. The Foreign Ministry and Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe are battling it out since Foreign Minister Bogollagama said that the diplomats had not followed proper protocol while more..

Mahinda rides the wave as Mangala and Sripathi cause ripples in govt.

Mar 4 (NS) The week was inundated with events political and otherwise, ranging from the President’s visit to China, the attack on the helicopter carrying western diplomats to Batticaloa and the attack on the LTTE arms ship off the coast of Dondrahead. Preceding all these there was an interesting encounter between President Mahinda Rajapaksa and some Sinhala and Tamil journalists who engage in a discussion that was telecast live on several television stations. more..

Close encounter of the Tiger kind

Mar 4 (ST) It was just past 8.30 a.m. last Tuesday when controllers at the air base in Batticaloa cleared the gleaming white Cessna Baron aircraft to touch down there. The model C55 aircraft, with a maximum speed of 373 kilometres per hour (201 knots), owned by a private company, was on a charter heading from China Bay in Trincomalee. more..

Court order tomorrow on Alles, Basnayake

Mar 4 (ST) Former Airport Aviation Authority Chairman Tiran Alles and Mavubima Publisher Dushyantha Basnayaka have been given time till tomorrow to raise objections against a court decision to impound their passports pending investigations against them. The case will be taken up before Colombo Chief Magistrate Kusala Sarojini Weerawardena tomorrow. more..

RMV: Graft on top gear

Mar 4 (ST) The testing of driving skills and issuing of driving licences have become a big scam perpetrated by some corrupt employees of the Department of Motor Traffic, with the connivance of many a mushrooming driving school. Have you wondered how so many people drive recklessly without any thought for basic road rules? Many drivers do pass the driving test without the ability to drive and not knowing even the basic road rules thanks to the corrupt system in place. more..

Unusual weather brought on by El Nino: Met official

Mar 4 (ST) Sri Lanka is experiencing the impact of a mild El Nino - a temporary change of climate in the Pacific Ocean - where the ocean temperature goes up by a few degrees making an impact on the world’s climate, a senior Met. Department said. “Weather forecasters warned there will be a mild El Nino, an oceanographic phenomenon which will be active in 2006 to 2007 off the Peru coast. It was believed the El Nino will last from March 2006 to June this year. more..

Coke gets fizzy over Sri Lanka's fruit drink market

Mar 4 (AFP) Fizzy drink giant Coca-Cola is trying to corner Sri Lanka's market by offering fruit juice to locals looking for natural drinks over carbonated soft drinks, company officials said. Coca-Cola, one of the world's biggest soft drink makers, is investing four million dollars to set up a fruit juice plant in Sri Lanka as part of its expansion in this South Asian island of 19.5 million people. more..

Rocky start for Sri Lanka's first budget airline

Mar 4 (PTI) Sri Lanka's first budget airline ran into a rocky start when its maiden test flight today was grounded due to technical problems, airline officials said. The airline, known as Mihin Air, chartered a Fokker-27 plane from a private airline here to prove that it was fit to operate a passenger service using that type of aircraft. more..

Sri Lankan military says roadside bomb found in volatile north

Mar 4 (AP) A roadside bomb was found and neutralized in northern Sri Lanka, the military said Sunday. The 5-kilogram (11-pound) explosive device, hidden in a bush, was meant to target troops patrolling northern Sri Lanka's Jaffna peninsula, said Lt. Col. Upali Rajapakse, a senior defense ministry official. Hand grenades, a T-56 assault rifle and ammunition were also found at the scene. more..

Rebels kill police officer in Sri Lanka's east, 3 soldiers wounded in mortar attack

Mar 4 (AP) Separatist Tamil rebels attacked an elite police patrol, killing one officer, in Sri Lanka's volatile east on Sunday, while in the north, a guerrilla mortar attack wounded three soldiers, the military said. Special Task Force officers were patrolling in Ampara district when Tamil Tigers fired at them Sunday morning, said Lt. Col. Upali Rajapakse, a senior defense ministry official. more..

Tigers accuse Sri Lanka troops of killing six civilians

Mar 4 (AFP) Tamil Tiger rebels Sunday accused Sri Lankan forces of killing at least six civilians in the embattled northeast as police investigated the execution-style murders of five men near the capital. The rebel LTTE said five civilians, including a businessman, were killed by security forces while the sixth, a student, was killed in a mortar bomb attack by troops. more..

Scotland up for Sri Lanka test

Mar 5 (ECB) Scotland are delighted at Monday's opportunity to test their World Cup credentials against heavyweights Sri Lanka, in the first of two warm-up fixtures this week. The Scots will be coming up against opponents their coach Peter Drinnen rates capable of winning the tournament - and who last summer whitewashed England 5-0 in the NatWest Series. more..

A letter to The President from USA

Mar 5 (LeN) This is an open letter addressed to the President sent from one of our readers, a resident of USA. We published this letter as we believe it is appropriate to do so. President Rajapaksha - It is high time to clear up the mess! President MR, at a time when the whole world was hoping for a true and honest leader for Sri Lanka, you were promising to fulfill that vacancy and everybody blessed for your success which in return will be the success of the country. more..

Nations Trust Bank now in two locations in Kandy

Mar 5 (AT) Nations Trust Bank relocated its main branch at Kandy to No.147 Kotugodella Weediya and opened its newest branch at Peradeniya at No.903/18, Royal Mall Supermarket, William Gopallawa Mawatha. The relocated Kandy branch was declared open by L B Aluwihare, Kandy Mayor and the new branch at Peradeniya was declared open by Bandula Karunarathne, Senior District Judge. more..

Stock market closed the week in red: Struggles to find momentum

Mar 5 (AT) The HNB Stockbrokers in their weekly review indicted that the market started off on a positive note this week, but failed to hold ground, sliding throughout the major part of the week. While indices picked up yet again on Friday, the market closed the week in the red, falling below last week’s closing level. more..

Three bodies found in the north

Mar 5 (BBC) Police in the northern Sri Lankan towns say they found three dead bodies during the last 24 hours. Two bodies found in Karthasinnakulam, Vavuniya, were identified by the relatives as Premajeevan Ranjan and Madhuraweeran Mahendran. Relatives have told the police that the two young men were taken away by five armed men came to their houses on Saturday night. more..

Refugees reject 500m rule

Mar 5 (BBC) Internally Displaced People (IDPs) in eastern Sri Lanka have rejected government proposals to resettle them away from their original homes. The refugees say they would not go back if the government imposes 50m ban from the main roads in resettling them. In a meeting chaired by Eastern Province Governor in Trincomalee, security officials have suggested government impose 500m ban from the coastal areas. more..

Sri Lanka's new budget airline Mihin Air, fails to take off

Mar 5 (AFP) Sri Lanka's new state-run budget airline cancelled its maiden flight on Sunday because of technical problems, airport officials said. A Mihin Air flight was due to depart for India's southern city of Thiruvananthapuram from the island's sole international airport, but the trip was scrapped due to problems with the plane's nose wheel, officials said. more..

HDFCBank to offer Islamic finance housing mortgages

Mar 5 (LBO) HDFC bank is planning to offer housing mortgages based on Islamic finance principles, an official said. "We have already formulated to bring the Sharia concept into the housing loan portfolio," says HDFC Bank chairman S M M Yaseen told ETV's Money Report programme. "I am very keen and my board has given me the ok to go forward with this product. I hope that this product will really help the market and the customer will also have a different product." more..

Abductions, disappearances haunt Sri Lankan civil war

Mar 5 (Reuters) Like the relatives of hundreds of Sri Lankans who have 'disappeared' or been abducted amid renewed civil war, 27-year-old Dushyanthi Malaravan dreams of the day her missing father will come home. Professor S. Raveendranath was serving as Vice Chancellor of the island's Eastern University in the restive eastern district of Batticaloa when he disappeared from a science fair in a heavily guarded district of the capital Colombo in mid-December. more..

ACTC calls for UN peace keeping force in Lanka

Mar 5 (TW) The All Ceylon Tamil Congress has appealed to the UN to send a United Nations Peace Keeping Force to the country to protect Sri Lankan Tamils and maintain and ensure peace. Congress President Apapthurai Vinayagamoorthy. in a letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon alleged that abductions, killings and illegal arrests which continue in North, East, Colombo and the upcountry were done by the government Security Forces assisted by a Para Military Group. more..

Sri Lanka Telecom in spotlight over possible take-over by Maxis

Mar 5 (LBO) The possible exit of Japan's NTT from Sri Lanka Telecom continues to garner investor interest with market expectations of a possible buyout by Malaysian mobile operator, Maxis. But SLT has declined to comment specifically on the deal, saying NTT was satisfied with SLT's performance. more..

Ministry of Trade to take action to safeguard local producers and consumers

Mar 5 (SLBC) The Ministry of Trade, Marketing Development, Cooperatives and Consumer Affairs says taxes will have to be imposed on imported items as there will be surfeit of local products during the festive season. The government's aim is to provide essential goods at affordable prices while safeguarding local producers. more.. silence about Prabha- Mahinda pact

Mar 5 (ISL) Pro LTTE had been conspicuously silence for the last several weeks on the alleged deal between Mahida Rajapakse and the LTTE leadership to disenfranchise the poor Northern Tamils to defeat pro federalist Ranil Wicramasighe in the last election. had been giving increasing publicity to the statements made by dissident SLFP MP’s Sripathy and Mangala Samaraweera. more..

Tamil gangs’ violence intimidates London

Mar 5 (GDI) Since the year 2000, Tamils gangs in London who are in linked with the LTTE terrorists in Sri Lanka have been involved in many violent confrontations, which have resulted 10 deaths. The increasing number of gory activities have led the Metropolitan Police to deploy an operation code-named ‘Enver’ through a Special Task Force to probe into the gang-related violations. more..

Foreign Minister to visit UK

Mar 5 (GDI) Minister of Foreign Affaires Rohitha Bogollagama will be leaving for London on a three day official tour, tonight. Minister Bogollagama, after assuming duties as the new minister of Foreign Affaires by the end of January, paid official visits to India, Germany, Pakistan, Maldives and China. During these visits the Minister got the opportunity of meeting and holding discussion with the heads of the states and the high ranked officials, more..

250 new bridges with Swedish assistance

Mar 5 (GDI) With the financial assistance of the Government of Sweden 250 Bridges will be constructed island wide in Sri Lanka. According to the Ministry sources the construction of these bridges will take only a short period and they will be released to public access soon after the completion. The total estimated cost for the construction purpose of these 250 bridges is over Rs. 6300 millions more..

A new system enhancing the local organic fertilizer production

Mar 5 (GDI) The Ministry of Agricultural Development and Agrarian Services launches a new programme to register organic fertilizer manufacturers in order to identify and maintain a record of the organic fertilizer manufacturers and to enhance the production of high standard fertilizer to distribute among the farmers. more..

Defence Chiefs visit East

Mar 5 (GDI) Defence Secretary Mr. Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, accompanied by the Chiefs of the Security Forces yesterday visited East with the aim of inspecting the current situation in Trincomalee and Welikanda areas. Defence Secretary who was accompanied by the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal G.D Perera, the Commanders of three services and Inspector General of Police (IGP) in this visit. more..