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Karuna for intellectuals, big figures

Feb 8 (DM) National Integration Minister Vinayagamurthy Muralitharan said yesterday that only intellectuals and prominent figures would be fielded for the general election on the UPFA ticket for the Batticaloa district. He told Daily Mirror that people did not like the violent culture in their areas. “People do not like the presence of armed groups. They want peace and harmony. more..

Polls Chief rejects UNF application

Feb 8 (DM) Elections Commissioner Dayananda Dissanayake has rejected an application forwarded by the newly formed United National Front (UNF) requesting to register it as a recognized political party. The Commissioner has rejected on grounds that a political party could not be registered within 30 days after the conclusion of an election. The UNF is a political formation consisting of the UNP, the SLMC, the DPF and the SLFP (M) as the major parties. more..

Bus accident in Kandy injures over 40 passengers

Feb 8 (LP) A road mishap in Kandy yesterday left 43 passengers with injuries. The incident occurred when a private bus veered off the road and crashed, in the Kirimetiya area in Manikkinne last afternoon. One passenger who was in a critical condition has been admitted to the Peradeniya hospital while the others were admitted to Kandy and Menikkinne hospitals. The bus had been carrying residents of Mapanawathura, Katugastota area and more..

Flip-flops of elections commissioner

Feb 8 (ST) So the cynics were proved right all along in their assessments of Elections Commissioner Dayananda Dissanayake’s performance (to put it at the kindest level) as Sri Lanka’s elections chief. From tragedy, as epitomized by his emotional outburst last Wednesday in respect of the recently concluded Presidential elections, we descended into the proverbially unbelievable farce when more..

Police to be unarmed in public

Feb 8 (Island) The government has decided to stop policemen on regular duty carrying guns in public. Defence Secretary Gotabhya Rajapaksa told The Island that prior to defeating the LTTE, policemen had been compelled to be heavily armed as there was a threat to their lives from terrorists, but now there was no need for policemen to be armed with guns in public since terrorism had been eliminated. more..

'Political war akin to LTTE battle'

Feb 8 (PTI) Sought to be mired in coup conspiracies, former army chief Sarath Fonseka has hit back likening the "political battle" he is facing to military campaign he ran against Tamil Tigers. "The war against LTTE was not won easily. Similarly, the political battle will also not be easy," Fonseka said of his current travails, as the government has threatened to make him face Court Martial on conspiracy charges. more..

The post-election road ahead for President Rajapaksa

Feb 8 (IPS) Sri Lankans witnessed one of the country’s most contentious elections ever when President Mahinda Rajapaksa staved off the challenge posed by his former Army commander, Sarath Fonseka, and clinched more than 1.8 million majority votes during the Jan. 26 poll. Both presidential contenders gained popularity after the Sri Lankan military successfully wiped out the separatist LTTE last May, more..

Sri Lanka journalists hold anti-government protest

Feb 8 (AP) Sri Lankan journalists who claim the government has stepped up its suppression of the media in recent weeks staged a protest Monday and demanded the release of a detained editor from a pro-opposition newspaper. Nearly a hundred journalists demonstrated in the capital Colombo, urging the government to allow the media to report without hindrance and to free Chandana Sirimalwatte, editor of the Lanka newspaper. more..

Sri Lanka to clear allegations with UN

Feb 8 (DM) The government has decided to meet the UN Human Rights Council Chief Navaneethan Pillai in Geneva tomorrow in order to counter allegations raised by former Army Chief General Sarath Fonseka regarding the final stages of the conflict. Minister Mahinda Samarasingha along with Attorney General Mohan Peiris left the island for Geneva today and would meet Ms. Pillai tomorrow. more..

Visiting celebrities add spice to Sri Lankan I-Day celebrations

Feb 9 (TP) Sri Lankans turned out in large numbers to a packed house at the Doha Cinema on Friday to witness a spectacular evening of culture and pageantry to celebrate the country’s 62nd Independence Day which fell on February 4. Sri Lankan Ambassador to Qatar Vijayasiri Padukkage was the chief guest. Popular artists, actors and actresses in Sri Lanka such as Damitha Abeyratne, Himali Sayurangi, more..

Journalists warn of 'further oppression'

Feb 9 (BBC) General public in Sri Lanka will be the next target of threats and intimidation if current threats against journalists continued, media organisations have warned. The Free Media Movement (FMM) said a number of journalists who supported the main opposition candidate, Gen Sarath Fonseka, were sacked from state media. "While Some are still in the hospital after being beaten others were interdicted," more..

Fonseka to 'testify on war crimes'

Feb 9 (BBC) Sri Lanka's former military commander says that he is prepared to give evidence in an international court on war crime charges against Sri Lanka. General Sarath Fonseka speaking to journalists in Colombo on Monday said, "I am not going to save anyone who has committed war crimes". International human rights organisations as well as the US state department has alleged that more..

Saudi Arabia to give $46 million for Lanka dam project

Feb 9 (AN) The Kingdom will contribute $46 million for the construction of a dam in Sri Lanka. A four-member delegation headed by S. Amarasekera, secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture Development and Agrarian Services arrived here Sunday to discuss the technical details of the project and prepare a draft agreement with the Saudi Fund For Development (SFD). The agreement will be signed later in Colombo. more..

Should India Bat for Tamils in Sri Lanka?

Feb 9 (MC) Somebody once said democracy is the right to choose your dictator. For the minority Tamils in Sri Lanka, the Presidential election in late January presented such a baffling dilemma. Should they vote for the man who ordered a bloody war on their homeland or for the military general who actually led the troops into their fields? In the end, most Tamils stayed home on the poll day unable to fathom who was the lesser evil. more..

1,400 deserters surrendered: Army

Feb 9 (Hindu) Around 1,400 deserters surrendered at Army camps on Independence Day last week, availing themselves of the amnesty granted by the government, said the Sri Lankan Army here on Monday. Desertions have been a bane of the forces for several years now. As per one estimate, the three wings saw 36,000 deserters. The deserters surrendered at the Army camps in response to an announcement made by the government. more..

'Regardless of how they voted, many Sri Lankans strongly disapproved of three trends'

Feb 9 (TC) Regardless of how they voted, many Sri Lankans strongly disapproved of three trends during the campaigning. These were: *continuous personal slander, provoked by undue media publicity. As the norms of vigorous and healthy democratic debate were disregarded this way, the people were denied an objective understanding of the real issues. * The wilful violation of electoral laws which sadly demonstrated that might is right. more..

Sri Lanka: A country without citizens

Feb 9 (GV) Note from author: For someone who is not in the least interested in politics – and is more often than not bored by it – my reaction to the 2010 Presidential Elections was surprising, even to me. Strangely enough though, I found that a lot of people felt much the same way. We were repulsed by constant news of violence; inescapable hoardings with their proclamations that our politicians loved us; posters that made the city walls disappear beneath them; more..

Debrief News - 08. 02. 2010

Gen. Sarath Fonseka arrested

Feb 9 (Telegraph) General Fonseka was arrested at his office in Colombo on Monday night. "He was dragged away in a very disgraceful manner in front of our own eyes," SLMC leader Rauff Hakeem said. Military spokesman Major-General Prasad Samarasinghe said the arrest related to offences from Fonseka's time in the army, which ended in November when he stepped down and entered the presidential race. more..

Sri Lanka shippers brace for more freight rate hikes

Feb 9 (LBO) Sri Lankan shippers said they anticipate further hikes in freight rates as cargo flows improve after the recession with loss-making shipping lines trying to regain profitability and fewer ships calling Colombo. In the short-term, the latest spike in rates and pressure on ship capacity might ease after next week’s Chinese new year ahead of which a surge in cargo volumes pushed rates up. more..

Sri Lanka to dredge more sea sand

Feb 9 (LBO) Sri Lanka will appoint a dredging contractor to bring up three million cubic metres of sea sand to supply the domestic market which is running out of river sand and also for export. Sri Lanka Land Reclamation and Development Company (SLLR & DC), a state agency, holds the sole rights and license to explore and mine sea sand in 100 square kilometer areas off the west coast of the island. more..

Arms dealer jailed for illegally supplying weapons to Israel and Sri Lanka

Feb 9 (Telegraph) Gideon Sarig refused to apply for the licence as he arranged for Uzis, pump-action shotguns, bombs and other weapons to be sent to countries including Sri Lanka and Israel. Sarig used contacts arranged by his co-defendant Howard Freckleton to sell the military and paramilitary kit to Sri Lanka's military during its "long, protracted and bloody civil war" more..

Why the Tamils want to flee

Feb 9 (ABC) ELIZABETH JACKSON: For the past six months or so it's been almost impossible for Western journalists to get into Sri Lanka. Yet there's a lot of reasons why they want to go there. So many Tamils are fleeing the country and many are trying to gain asylum in Australia. Eric Campbell from ABC TV's Foreign Correspondent program got lucky; he's just returned from Sri Lanka. He told Shane McLeod about his experience there. more..

Russia’s gas giant Gazprom seeks development of offshore fields in Sri Lanka

Feb 9 (IT) Russia’s gas giant Gazprom plans to take part in exploration of offshore hydrocarbon fields in Sri Lanka. Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller and President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who is visiting Moscow, discussed this issue at the talks on Monday. “The parties discussed prospects for Russian-Sri Lankan cooperation in the oil and gas sector,” the gas giant’s information department said. more..

President Rajapaksa receives a crown in Moscow

Feb 9 (IL) President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Madam Shiranthi Rajapaksa participated at the Golden Jubilee Anniversary celebrations and a cultural show of the Peoples’ Friendship University, which was held at the university auditorium in Moscow, 7th February. President Rajapaksa is seen here being welcomed at the ceremony by the students of the university and the Vice Chancellor Professor Vladimir M. Philipov. more..

New military spokesman takes office

Feb 9 (MoD) Major General Prasad Samarasinghe assumed office as Military Spokesman and Director, Directorate of Media in the Army this morning (8) during a brief ceremony, held at Media Center for National Security (MCNS). Major General Samarasinghe as Military Spokesman had the rare opportunity of contributing to the initial phase of the onset of the Humanitarian Operations that started off from Mavil Aru in the East during the years 2006-2007. more..

Sri Lankan opposition leader arrested for sedition

Feb 9 (AP) Sri Lanka's defeated presidential candidate was hauled from his office by military police Monday and will be court-martialed for allegedly planning to overthrow the government while serving as the head of the army. Sarath Fonseka, who as the top general helped defeat the Tamil Tiger rebels, was forcibly detained after objecting to his arrest, opposition politician Rauff Hakeem told The Associated Press. more..

Arrested Gen. Fonseka may face media barred court martial proceedings

Feb 9 (DBS) Ex-Army commander Gen.Sarath Fonseka was taken into custody by military personnel from his office around 9.00 pm on Monday February 8th. A contingent of Military Police personnel surrounded Gen.Fonseka's office & took him into custody along with his media secy Dr.Senaka Silva. Military spokesperson maj-Gen Prasad Samarasinghe confirmed to the media that Gen.Fonseka had been arrested for alleged military offences. more..

Sri Lanka opposition leader held for 'plotting coup'

Feb 9 (Times) Just nine months ago, General Sarath Fonseka was being hailed as a national hero by most of Sri Lanka as he basked in the glory of the victorious military campaign he led against the Tamil Tiger rebels. Tonight, however, the former army chief was languishing in jail facing a possible death sentence on charges of plotting a coup against Mahinda Rajapaksa, the President he tried to challenge in an election last month. more..

Opposition candidate arrested

Shehan Ambeypitia wins 100 meters gold

Feb 9 (DS) Shehan Ambepitiya, the 20-year-old boy from Colombo beat his more experienced and illustrious competitors to become South Asia's fastest man while a 23-year-old unknown quantity from Karachi named Naseem Hameed turned the table upside down to become the fastest woman in the 11th South Asian Games yesterday. The baby-faced Shehan, who had won gold in 4 X 100 m relay and silver in the 200m sprint, more..

Diary of Terror - 07th Feb. 2010

Feb 9 (LG) At Ratgalla of Kunagara, a primary school building in which sports equipment granted by the JVP Pradeshiya Sabha was housed, was demolished. The value of the building is estimated at Rs. 500,000 and the value of the sports equipment is estimated to be Rs. 200,000. The arson was done on the night of February 4th and the attackers are unknown. The police have visited the premises, but no one has been arrested as yet for starting the fire. more..

Sri Lanka refugees try to restart lives

Feb 9 (FT) It was around July 1995 that Thavam Sinathampy first fled with his family from the front lines of Sri Lanka’s civil war. After shrapnel tore a 10cm chunk of flesh from Mr Sinathampy’s shoulder, he set off with his wife and three children from their village in a remote area of the Jaffna peninsula at the northern end of Sri Lanka. In the following years they were displaced another 16 times. more..

US concerned on Sri Lanka arrest

Feb 9 (AFP) The United States on Monday voiced concern about Sri Lanka's arrest of the defeated opposition presidential candidate, fearing it would worsen divisions as the island recovers from war. "We are following the situation closely and we have concerns that any action be in accord with Sri Lankan law," State Department spokesman Philip Crowley told AFP. more..

President Rajapaksa- Face to face in Moscow

Feb 9 (IL) President Mahinda Rajapaksa met his counterpart, President of Russian Federation Dmitry Medvedev in Moscow this afternoon on 8th February. Both leaders discussed issues about security, development, trade and other relevant matters related to both countries at the round table conference. Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama, Minister of Trade Prof.G.L Peiris, more..

Ban appeals for post-election restraint in Sri Lanka as challenger arrested

Feb 9 (UN) Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is reiterating his appeal to all parties in Sri Lanka and their supporters to show restraint and refrain from violence after the reported arrest of the defeated opposition presidential candidate. Responding to questions from journalists today, a spokesperson for Mr. Ban noted that “the peaceful conduct of the first post-conflict national election and its aftermath is of the highest importance for more..

Amnesty blasts Sri Lanka for opposition leader arrest

Feb 9 (AFP) Amnesty International accused Sri Lanka's government Monday of stepping up a "crackdown on political opposition" after the arrest of the defeated candidate in last month's presidential vote. Former army chief Sarath Fonseka, who lost to President Mahinda Rajapakse in the January 26 election, was taken into custody by the military police Monday to be charged with unspecified "military offences", his party said. more..

News/Views from Sri Lankans in Boston

Sri Lanka pledges funds for Tamil north

Feb 9 (FT) Sri Lanka plans to spend $1bn (€730m, £639m) a year to bring the northern Tamil-dominated parts of the country “up to scratch” following decades of civil war that ended last year, its central bank governor told the Financial Times on Monday. Ajith Nivard Cabraal said the money would be devoted to hospitals, schools and government buildings, improvement of north-south roads and restoration of electricity supply. more..

Rajapaksa’s political rival humiliated, but at what cost?

feb 9 (Times) By arresting his former army chief and electoral opponent in Sri Lanka, President Rajapaksa appears to be trying to neutralise the threat of a coup. The paradox is that his heavy-handed tactics risk provoking one. General Sarath Fonseka has been utterly humiliated since he lost in the presidential election last month: he has even been stripped of the security detail that protected him from attacks by former Tamil Tigers. more..