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'I am eligible' says Pillayan

May 12 (BBC) The leader of the TMVP says he is eligible for the Chief Minister post in the east as he has got the highest preferential votes. Pillayan told BBC Tamil Service that his group will not lay down arms until such time his security is guaranteed by the authorities. The TMVP leader, Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan, has secured 41,936 preferential votes ahead of the other CM hopeful MLAM Hisbullah, who has secured 35,949 preferential votes, more..

'No decision' over CM post

May 12 (BBC) The Sri Lanka government is yet to decide on who should be the Chief Minister, a senior minister said. Leader of the house and Health Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva told BBC Sandeshaya that the government will “respect the mandate of the people” in appointing the eastern CM. The leader of the Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Puligal (TMVP) and a senior regional Muslim leader are both vying for the CM post. more..

Refugee influx causing concern

May 12 (Hindu) The steady influx of Sri Lankan Tamil refugees is raising security concerns in the State. In the past 10 days, 211 refugees, including many women and children, reached Dhanushkodi from Thalaimannar (in Sri Lanka). Since January 2006, 21,489 refugees have been enrolled in the Mandapam refugee camp. With no organised repatriation since March 1995, official estimates put the total number of refugees in Tamil Nadu, registered and unregistered, at 1.2 lakh. more..

Righteous conflict or sham harmony on campus?

May 12 (LG) With new students streaming into some universities at this time of the year the perennial curse of campus torture that best defines the degraded student culture of Sri Lankan universities once again assumes topical significance. Not that it matters to many people these days. Cases like that of the student Varapragash, who was tortured to death some years ago have long since been forgotten in a society hardened by pervasive political deceit, social violence and corruption, more..

The result of the election: the victory for democracy and defeat for separatist terrorism

May 12 (LR) The long march of democracy in Eastern province started with the liberation of Mavillaru sluice gate from LTTE and restoring the supply of water for the innocent farmers in the area. It was a time when LTTE artillery were even targeting Tricomalee town and strategic Navy camp as a result of shameful CFA signed by UNP leader Ranil Wickramasingha and Prabakaran. more..

Nobel Prize winning climate-change expert to speak at Cambridge

May 12 (CN) Mohan Munasinghe, Vice Chairman of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and co-recipient of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize will be delivering Clare College’s annual Distinguished Lecture in Economics and Public Policy. His talk will address one of the major challenges in dealing with global warming, namely, how best it can be combated without diverting resources from other pressing development issues, such as poverty and food security. more..

Sri Lanka coastal town scores with garbage recycling

May 12 (LBO) A town in Sri Lanka’s southern coastal belt has improved its environment and the finances of its local government body through a garbage recycling project, officials said. The cash saved on garbage disposal and money earned through recycling is being used for road improvement by the Weligama urban council. In 2006, the head of the Weligama urban council, elected in June, decided to turn its garbage dumping ground into a solid waste management project site. more..

Geopolitics shape Sri Lanka’s conflict - study

May 12 (TN) Politics between powerful states have always been integral to the dynamics of war and peace in Sri Lanka, several contributors to a collected volume exploring the international dimensions of the island’s protracted conflict say. The study by the Centre for Just Peace and Democracy (CJPD) published this year comprises papers presented by academics and analysts at a conference held in Switzerland last June along with extracts of the subsequent discussions. more..

ICRC Jaffna branch issues figures of victims receiving assistance

May 12 (TN) The ICRC has managed to airlift 1,500 of the patients in Jaffna in need of urgent and special treatment to Colombo, after September 2006, when the A9 highway which links Jaffna peninsula with the rest of the island was closed down, the Jaffna branch of the organisation assisting the victims of war said in a media release issued to media in Jaffna. The ICRC also provides year round assistance to 23 hospitals. more..

An open letter to CAFFE - Noor Nizam

May 12 (MG) The tentative report published by CAFFE seems to have only vaguely touched on the election violence and matters concerning "How election laws were observed" in respect to the areas of Mutur, Kinniya, Molipothan and Thampalakaaman. These are predominantly Muslim areas and much favourable to the UNP/SLMC alliance. Further more, your focus of reporting has sidelined the incidents in the Muslim areas very specially. more..

Rauff Hakeem to re-enter Parliament

May 12 (MG) SLMC leader Rauff Hakeem who quit Parliament to lead the Eastern campaign would return to Parliament early next month, political sources said. The prorogation of Parliament by President Mahinda Rajapaksa for nearly a month would prevent Hakeem from taking one of the two vacant National List slots in Parliament. Hakeem along with National List MP M. T. Hassan Ali, SLMC General Secretary and National List MP Basheer Segudawood, SLMC Chairman quit Parliament to join the fray. more..

The road forward in the East. Together we should move ahead

May 12 (MG) Whether it was an election seen as undemocratic or unacceptable due to many allegations or whether it was a fair or unfair election as challenged by the loosing party, the Commissioner of Elections has declared that the UPFA and the TMVP alliance has come out the victors. For the citizens, they want the “goods delivered” still for the politicians they may call for a review. more..

Election in the East was a plunder of votes! – Vijithe Herath

May 12 (LT) The election held to elect members for the Eastern Provincial Council was a plunder of votes using state power, thug power, monetary power and media power at the disposal of the government party said JVP Parliamentarian Vijithe Herath adding that his party rejects the results of the unfair election which did not allow voters to cast their votes independently. more..

UNP rejects this election result, it has been rigged - Tissa Attanayake

May 12 (LT) Tissa Attanayake, UNP Gen. Secretary and M.P. speaking to the Media today, rejected the Govt. victory at the EP polls held yesterday claiming that the exercise of free franchise was looted through state terrorism and use of force. He said that this was the most corrupt election in the recent history. The Govt. could only secure one seat more than the UNP (UFPA-18; UNP 17), despite using all its resources illegally ,foully and more..

Ballots against Bullets

May 12 (LG) At the end of the day, the results of the Provincial Council polls in the East have gone on predictable – and predicated – lines. The ruling SLFP-UPFA at the national-level has won a 'convincing' 20 seats in a total of 37. That includes the bonus two seats, which alone has ensured that the combine reached the 'magic figure' of 19 seats required for absolute majority. This also means that the UPFA cannot blame perceptions of inefficiency and more..

PC Poll: What Happened?

May 12 (LG) On May 10, the LTTE launched three major attacks in the east. They sank a naval cargo ship within the highly defended Trincomalee harbour. In addition they launched a series of mortar attack in Damana, a Sinhalese-inhabited part of the Ampara district and exploded a bomb in a restaurant in the middle of the Sinhalese-inhabited Ampara town killing over a dozen civilians and injuring many more. more..

FTA boosts India-Sri Lanka bilateral trade

May 12 (LG) The India-Sri Lanka FTA, which was fully implemented by March this year, has increased bilateral trade by four times since 2000, to touch $2.7 billion in 2006-07 from a mere $685 million in 2000-01, according to a Ficci study. With this, India has taken a lead over Japan in the post-FTA period in terms of share in Sri Lanka’s global imports. In 1999, India’s share was 9.5 per cent in Sri Lanka’s imports and it was the second largest importer after Japan. more..

Popular commerce teacher Varathan, relative reported missing in Colombo

May 12 (TN) S.S.Varatharajan, popularly known as Varathan in the private tuition sector for teaching commerce subject was abducted Sunday morning in Fort police area by a group of unidentified persons while he was going from a tuition centre in Wellawatte to another in Kotahena. Later, one of his relatives Muthukumar Sritharan, 49, was also abducted by persons who came to Varathan's residence in Police uniform, according to complaints lodged with the Wellawatte police. more..

Wimal-Nandana party to be registered as ‘National Freedom Front'

May 12 (LD) Arriving at the Elections Secretariat this morning (May 12th), JVP breakaways Wimal Weerawansa and Nandana Gunatillake have handed over documents needed to register their new political movement under the name of ‘National Freedom Front’ (Jathika Nidahas Peramuna), reports say. The party emblem will feature a crown, five stars and two ears of rice, while the official colour will be gold, reports add. more..

North Central Provincial Council to be dissolved

May 12 (LD) Presidential Secretariat sources disclose the President has decided to dissolve the present North Central Provincial Council and hold elections immediately. Speaking to ‘Lanka Dissent’, a senior official of the Presidential Secretariat said that President Mahinda Rajapaksa has requested North Central Chief Minister, Bertie Premalal Dissanayake to dissolve the Provincial Council immediately. more..

‘Milk Super’ to uplift local dairy industry

May 12 (GDI) A whole sale and retail milk trade center was opened by the Ministry of Trade, Marketing Development and Co-operatives and Consumer Services in Colombo last week. The new outlet will provide fresh milk and milk based products at an affordable price to the consumers. Dairy products of the center, ‘Milk Super’ is purely locally based. The ‘Milk Super’ will save Rs. 20 billion in foreign exchange spent on importing powered milk and more..

Another group of civilians seek Government protection fleeing LTTE held areas

May 12 (GDI) Another group of civilians fleeing LTTE held areas in Kilinochchi reached the Pallimunai Fishing Marshalling Point in Mannar, jointly manned by the Sri Lanka Navy and the Police on the 11th May 2008 seeking the protection of the Government Security Forces. “They had arrived in Pallimunai on two separate occasions. A Tamil youth, aged 18, had been the first to arrive after having fled Kilinochchi to avoid LTTE’s forced recruitment,” more..

'Eastern polity delivers death blow to Eelam dream'

May 12 (GDI) The first ever election held in Eastern Province covering all thee districts brought an emphatic victory to UPFA securing 20 (18+02 bonus seats) out of 37 seats on offer, while polling 52.21 per cent of the total votes. The UNP which obtained 42.38 per cent of the total valid votes got 15 seats while the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna and the Tamil Democratic National Alliance secured one slot each. more..

Sri Lanka makes last-ditch attempt to secure HRC seat

May 12 (LNP) Colombo will make a frantic, last-ditch attempt on Tuesday to persuade members of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) to re-elect Sri Lanka, overshadowed by allegations of gross human rights violations, to the 47-member council on May 21 in New York, The Nation newspaper reported today. Human Rights Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe will leave for Geneva today, where he is expected to make a strong case as to why Sri Lanka should be included in more..

Sri Lanka: The Isle of Serendipity Meets the Challenge of Terrorism

May 12 (IL) American audiences in general tend to identify Sri Lanka with two specific phenomena - the tsunami of December 2004 and the LTTE, a terrorist group also known as the ‘Tigers.’ The war with the Tigers, in particular, has continued unabated for close upon thirty years, and no one could be faulted for being horrified at the violence, death and destruction unleashed upon Sri Lanka by the Tigers. more..

Kingfisher to fly to Lanka soon

May 12 (LNP) Kingfisher Airlines, India`s first and only five star airline, is planning to fly to Sri Lanka at end of the year. Regional Manager Trade Sales, of the airline, Ritam Saha in an exclusive interview told the Daily News Business that they hope to initially operate three frequencies per week to Sri Lanka. Business tycoon Dr. Vijay Mallya ranked among the richest businessmen in the world owns the airline and he recently acquired Air Deccan. more..

Winners and losers

May 12 (LNP) The real loser at Saturday`s election was Velupillai Prabhakaran. Easterners have routed his separatist project by electing a group of representatives independent of the LTTE to run their province which is the be-all and end-all of Eelam. The UNP-SLMC combine turned that election into a referendum on the North-East merger and the politico-military strategy of the government. more..

CTC to plant ‘natural forests’

May 12 (SAMN) Ceylon Tobacco Company (CTC) has undertaken an initiative to enhance Sri Lanka’s biodiversity by converting the company’s Eucalyptus plantations into natural forests. Addressing the media, CTC Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Manager Senaka De Fonseka revealed that although the company will be making a loss out of this project they will be serving the country through the boosting of the ecosystem in the dry zone. more..

UNCIEF completes 15 tsunami schools

May 12 (SAMN) Responding to the request of the Education Ministry, UNICEF has committed itself to building 21 schools countrywide to replace facilities damaged or destroyed by the devastating tsunami waves. 15 schools have already been completed and six schools are due to be handed over before June this year. A UNICEF spokesperson said that in the Jaffna district, two schools J/ Valvai RCTMS and J/Valvai Sivaguru Vidyalaya have been completed. more..

Many plans for development of EP: Basil

May 12 (SAMN) Senior advisor to the President, MP Basil Rajapaksa said that now the three major communities in the country the Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims have given a clear majority to the UPFA and thereby a clear message to the people of the country and the international community they must support to bring peace by ending the problem and not leave the finding of a solution to the next generation. more..

Tussle for Chief Minister post

May 12 (SAMN) The tussle between TMVP leader Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan alias Pillayan and UPFA Muslim leader M.L.A.M. Hizbullah for the hotly contested Eastern Provincial Council Chief Minister post intensified Sunday after the preference votes were counted and the victorious UPFA council members were named. Sources said the post of Chief Minister depended on the number of Muslim and Tamil members elected from the UPFA to the council. more..

61 Tamils still held in Colombo, 254 remain in Boosa

May 12 (TN) About 61 Tamil civilians arrested in Colombo in several cordon and search operations last few weeks are still being detained in several police stations in Colombo, civil society sources said. 25 are being detained in police stations at Dehiwala, Wellawatte and Kohuwela, 15 at Weliveriya, and 21 are held in Kotahena. All detainees had valid national identity cards, but were taken into custody because of their Tamil nationality, more..

Massive housebreaking racket run by teenage gang uncovered

May 12 (DN) A special police team from the Maradana police yesterday uncovered a massive housebreaking racket run by a teenage gang following the arrest of two teenage boys from Colombo division. Inspector Sanjeewa Jayawardena who was in-charge of the Police Special Unit arrested the suspects while they were attempting to break into a shop in the Colombo district. more..

Lankan's charred body found in Abha

May 12 (DN) Police are investigating the case of a Sri Lankan national whose partially charred body was found in his apartment in the southern city of Abha on Friday. Mohammed Imtisam Shamsudeen, 28, assistant manager of Home Centre in Abha, had been working for Al-Bandar International House for Trading Company for the past four years. Shamsudeen's relatives in Sri Lanka said they suspect foul play. more..

SB calls for national PC

May 12 (Island) UNP National Organiser S. B. Dissanayake has proposed a National Provincial Council for the Eastern Province. Addressing the press in Kandy on Sunday the outspoken politician said that he was happy with the government’s victory at the just concluded election but regretted the way the ruling coalition had secured the first Eastern Provincial Council. After a lapse of twenty years the people of the Eastern Province had enjoyed their right to vote, more..

NGO records 157 incidents

May 12 (Island) The Campaign for Free and Fair Elections (CaFFE) has logged 157 cases of assault (30), threats (38), intimidation (69) and impersonation (20) between 7 a.m. and 5.30 p.m. on the polling day. The NGO’s Secretary General Senaka Wattegedara, in a statement issued yesterday said the final total could be higher once they received full data from their district offices. He had categorized 42 other incidents as violations without going into details. more..

New mental health programme launched

May 12 (DM) Between 950,000 to 1.9 million or 5-10% of the population suffer from mental health problems in Sri Lanka and, to make their plight worse, they are one of the most marginalized groups in the country, a WHO report said. The Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO), a non governmental organization that has been working in Sri Lanka since 1967, had launched a four year project last Saturday at the BMICH to support the development of community - more..

Sinking of Navy ship: Evidence of suicide bomber

May 12 (DM) Navy divers yesterday recovered body parts of the suspected LTTE suicide cadre from the waters where the Tigers sank a navy cargo ship in the Trincomalee harbour on Saturday, the navy said. “Our divers found parts of the suicide cadre body along with diving equipment from the sea,” Navy spokesman D.K.P. Dassanayake told the Daily Mirror yesterday. The navy believes the suicide cadres had used a suicide jacket for the blast as only the lower part of the body was recovered. more..

New fighting in north kills 15 Tamil separatist rebels, 3 soldiers

May 12 (AP) Government soldiers fought Tamil Tiger rebels along Sri Lanka's northern front lines in a series of battles that killed 15 guerrillas and three soldiers, the military said Monday. The latest fighting took place throughout Sunday in the Vavuniya, Welioya and Jaffna regions bordering the separatist rebels' de facto state in the north. In the worst of the violence, soldiers killed 10 Tamil Tiger rebels in Vavuniya in a battle that also killed one soldier, more..

Sri Lanka’s war-ravaged East cries out for development

May 12 (NIP) For some time to come, Sri Lankans will be preoccupied with the question whether the first-ever elections to the Eastern provincial council last Saturday were free and fair, and whether the cause of democracy and national unity was served by the exercise. But very soon, the people of the region, denied an elected provincial council for two decades, will demand that the rulers get down to brass tacks and address bread-and-butter issues. more..

Opposition says it will launch mass campaign against election violence

May 12 (AP) Sri Lanka's opposition said Monday it would launch a mass campaign calling on the government to restore democracy in the island nation after tense Eastern Province elections that it says were tainted by vote tampering and intimidation. The government hailed Saturday's vote as a return to democracy in the country's east less than a year after it drove out the rebels who had controlled the region for 13 years. more..

Election called 'mandate' to defeat rebel Tamil Tigers

May 13 (CSM) Sri Lanka's government has triumphed in the first provincial elections to be held in the east of the island in two decades. Saturday's elections were held in a region that until last year was partly controlled by the LTTE, more commonly known as the Tamil Tigers. The vote is a key plank in the government's campaign against the rebels: to introduce limited devolution of power to the island while crushing the Tigers with military force. more..

Regulator seeks to improve professional skills in capital markets

May 13 (LBO) Sri Lanka's capital markets regulator Monday launched a training programme that it said would help overcome an acute shortage of skilled professionals in the financial services industry. SEC chairman Gamini Wickramasinghe said skilled professionals were needed to safeguard the interest of investors. "Regrettably, the secondary and tertiary education sectors in Sri Lanka do not have an adequate focus on developing the knowledge and competency needed for the financial industry," more..

Building a more sustainable world in Sri Lanka

May 13 (TMG) I have found myself on a very steep learning curve since coming to work in Sri Lanka. One minute I was living the rat race, commuting to an office with no care for the environment and going out at the weekends. The next I am volunteering for Ruk Rakaganno (, the Tree Society of Sri Lanka, trying to raise awareness of the importance of forests and still going out at the weekends. more..

Sri Lanka's model democracy is being ravaged by war

May 13 (G&M) A United Nations agency recently declared Sri Lanka one of the world's most dangerous places for aid workers and journalists. It is also a terrifying place to be a soldier. Both the government and its opponents, the LTTE, count scores of fighters killed and hundreds wounded during recent fighting. Sri Lanka's already horrific war is entering a quantitatively new phase. The country's once admired democratic institutions are buckling under the strain. more..

Congress calls for ban on pro-LTTE outfits

May 13 (PTI) Congress, a key ally of Tamil Nadu's ruling DMK, on Monday demanded a ban on pro-LTTE organisations in the state and asked the state government to deal with "scourge of terrorism with iron hand." "Terrorism of any kind, whether it be from Sri Lanka or within the state (Maoists) or communal, should be dealt with an iron hand," senior Congress leader D Sudarshanam told the state assembly more..

CoI rejects SLA objection

May 13 (BBC) The Commission of Inquiry (CoI) that investigates serious human rights abuses has rejected an objection by the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) to replace one of the commissioners. The counsel appearing on behalf of the SLA told the hearing that Commissioner Dr. D Nesiah maintains close links with the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA). Dr. Nesiah’s presence amounts to conflict of interest as the CPA has ‘intervened’ in CoI investigations, counsel Gomin Dayasiri argued. more..

'I am the CM' says Hisbullah

May 13 (BBC) The Muslim leader of the ruling party who won the Eastern Provincial Council (EPC) says he should be appointed as the new Chief Minister (CM). MLAM Hisbullah told BBC Sandeshaya that the ruling United Peoples Freedom Alliance (UPFA) will appoint him as the new CM within the next few days. “I will be appointed as the new Chief Minister as soon as the President comes back from abroad,” he said. more..

Editorial: Bullet to ballot

May 13 (Hindu) The relatively violence-free conduct of the first ever election to Eastern Provincial Council (EPC) is a feather in the cap of the Mahinda Rajapaksa government. The UPFA, which teamed up with the breakaway LTTE group led by Pillayan, has emerged victorious with 20 of the 37 seats. The opposition parties have charged the government with large-scale electoral irregularities. The reports of independent observer groups provide some support to such complaints. more..

JCCI Team to Visit Lanka

May 13 (AN) A delegation of Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI), headed by its Vice Chairman Mazen Batterjee and comprising Secretary General Mustafa A.M. Sabri is leaving for Sri Lanka tomorrow. Sri Lankan Consul General Abdul Latiff Mohamed Lafeer said that the team would sign a memorandum of understanding with Federation of Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Nawaz Rajabdeel, explore joint economic activities including new business partnerships and investments. more..