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Ratnayake confident of Cabinet reduction

Feb 13 (Island) A senior Sri Lanka Freedom Party Minister yesterday said that he is confident that President Mahinda Rajapaksa would reduce the number of ministers to between 35 and 40 in the next Cabinet of the UPFA Government. Livestock Development Minister R. M. C. B. Ratnayake told The Island yesterday the government was confident of a two third majority at the forthcoming parliamentary elections. more..

Stop political transfers, warns TUC

Feb 13 (Island) The Trade Union Confederation (TUC), warned they would take wide scale trade union action if President Mahinda Rajapaksa failes to take steps to cancel all politically motivated transfers which followed the Presidential Elections. General Secretary of the TUC, Saman Ratnapriya said, that democracy required a strong opposition and its views and development following the election showed that the government was bent on weakening the more..

Govt. says Ex-UN spokesman Weiss spreading lies

Feb 13 (DM) The government yesterday denied allegations made by the former UN spokesman in Colombo Gordon Weiss that as many as many as 40,000 civilians could have been killed during the final stages of the Sri Lankan civil war last year. “That is absolutely wrong information; Gordon Weiss was spreading false information, about the last stages of the war,” more..

The Vaccum

Feb 13 (DM) With the UNP making it official on Thursday that it would go with the Elephant symbol and the reluctance of rank and file of JVP to contest under that despite the common cause for Fonseka release, the fate of the JVP certainly was precariously poised on a precipice by yesterday. What will happen if the JVP fails to get a single seat in the next parliament? Even though the proportionate representation system is sympathetic towards minor parties more..

JVP pushes for common symbol with UNP

Feb 13 (DM) The JVP said yesterday it would make an effort to persuade the main opposition UNP to be flexible and agree to contest the upcoming general election under a common symbol. The question of a symbol came to the fore after the UNP Working Committee decided on Thursday to contest the election under its traditional elephant symbol. The UNP was the single largest party to support the candidacy of common opposition candidate General Sarath Fonseka at more..

If Fonseka’s innocence proved, he will be freed, President tells Ranil

Feb 13 (Island) If it could be proved that former Army Chief and defeated presidential candidate Gen. Sarath Fonseka had not violated the law, he would be released, President Mahinda Rajapaksa told Opposition and UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe at a meeting between the two leaders at Temple Trees yesterday. more..

'Gota’s charges: No further probe by FM'

Feb 13 (DM) Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollogam said his Ministry had no intention of pursuing the allegations made by Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa that the United States and Norway supported the election campaign of defeated presidential candidate General Sarath Fonseka. “With the Norwegian and American embassies rejecting the allegations on Thursday there is no reason to pursue the matter any further,” more..

New head of TRC cracking down on social sites: Dayasiri

Feb 13 (DM) UNP MP Dayasiri Jayasekara alleged yesterday that the new director general at the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC) Anusha Palpita had been appointed to that post to crackdown on the news and other social websites. “Palpita has been sent to the TRC mainly to monitor and hunt down news websites. They have blocked and banned certain news and local blog sites from time to time. more..

'Politicians can gain mileage from prelates' remarks'

Feb 13 (Island) Top film director Somaratne Dissanayake yesterday urged Mahanayakas not to take sides and make statements that could allow politicians with vested interests to gain mileage. Addressing a press conference in connection with the recent arrest of former Army Chief Sarath Fonseka, he said that the Mahanayakas’ remarks could have a huge impact on the society. more..

Kandy mayor removed on disciplinary grounds

Feb 13 (CT) Mayor of Kandy L.B. Aluvihare has been removed from the position on disciplinary grounds, said Central Province chief minister Sarath Ekanayake. An inquiry is presently under way against Mr. Aluvihare, said the chief minister. Deputy mayor S. Wickremasinghe has been appointed to oversee the duties of the mayor, he added.

Food poisoning in Matale leaves one schoolgirl dead

Feb 13 (LP) A school child in the Matale Education Zone died due to food poisoning. It was reported that 89 others from the area were admitted to the Matale Base hospital with symptoms of food poisoning after they consumed the noon meal of noodles and eggs provided by the schools on Thursday. Forty-one students have left the hospital after treatment. more..

Sri Lanka plans to issue 500-million-dollar bond

Feb 13 (AFP) Sri Lanka plans to issue a new international bond this year with a 10-year maturity to help defray mammoth post-war rebuilding expenses, the central bank said Saturday. "We need about 2.7 billion dollars for the next three years to build new roads, utility services, hospitals and schools to get the northern economy up to speed," central bank governor, Nivard Cabraal said. more..

Anoma rebuts allegations

Feb 13 (ST) In the courtyard of the rented bungalow in Colombo's Queens Avenue, Jerfy, a two-year- old Dalmatian, howls for his master, General Sarath Fonseka. He is the only man Jerfy has never attacked. Inside, Mrs Anoma Fonseka, wife of the Sri Lankan military hero who was picked up last week for treason and possible murder charges - is fighting to secure his release. more..

President pledges due process for rival

Feb 13 (AP) president promised to follow due process in the sedition investigation of the defeated presidential candidate and ex-army chief whose arrest has pushed the island nation into political turmoil. President Mahinda Rajapaksa assured a key opposition leader in a meeting Friday that the "rule of law must prevail" and the arrested general will be freed if the allegations against him are not proven, more..

Rajapakse regime is a bundle of "criminal" contradictions

Feb 14 (TC) Dr. Rajapakse's administration, now champions of a “Russian” doctorate of world peace has taken refuge behind the law to justify its latest unprecedented action in arresting the main opposition Presidential candidate, when there are so many contradictions in its actions. On the conclusion of the Presidential elections, the military surrounded Cinnamon Lake Side hotel on the allegation that a coup was being planned in more..

Lies, responds Colombo, to accusations of "lying, misleading"

Feb 14 (TN) Responding to accusations by a former UN spokesperson, Gordon Weiss, that up to 40,000 Tamil civilians were killed in the last battle, and that Sri Lanka was making statements that were "intentionally misleading or were lies," Sri Lanka's Director for the MCNS, General Laxman Hulugalle, told a Colombo daily “that [Weiss's statement] is absolutely wrong information; Gordon Weiss was spreading false information, about the last stages of the war.” more..

Importance of the call by the Sanganayakas

Feb 14 (LG) The four chief monks of the leading orders of Buddhist monks in Sri Lanka have called for a gathering of all monks in the island on the 18th of February to deliberate on the disaster caused to the nation by undermining democracy and good governance in recent times. This historical call is of great significance in a majority Buddhist nation where the influence of Buddhist monks has been recognized as a major element in political, social and cultural life. more..

Diary of Terror Part 10- 12 February

Feb 14 (LG) If there was coup attempt arrest me also, Sarath Fonseka’s wife, Anoma, challenged the authorities. Speaking to the media, the arrested common candidate’s wife said that if a coup plot had been hatched at the hotel in which Sarath Fonseka and his election team were staying during the last presidential election then she should also be arrested. “I should also be arrested. I was in the hotel all throughout with all the members of my family,” more..

Agitation over SF arrest: potent weapon or damp squib?

Feb 14 (LB) By now it’s sufficiently clear that there was an exchange of words between the military team that arrested general Sarath Fonseka last Monday, the general himself, and the political leaders who were present at that time at the general’s office close to Royal College. However, it appears that there is also the usual political capital being made out of the manner of arrest. more..

Disabled soldier, abducted to sling mud at General, tortured!

Feb 14 (LT) The disabled soldier who disappeared while serving in General Sarath Fonseka’s office at Rajakeeya Mawatha in Colombo on the 11th has been found near Colombo Town Hall today (13th). He was found dumped on the road after being brutally beaten up. The war hero, critically injured in the attack on him, has been admitted to ward No.7 at Ragama Teaching Hospital. The disabled war hero, J. Asoka Kumara of Kusume Gedera, more..

Thugs attack JVP office at Kesbawa

Feb 14 (LT) A gang of UPFA goons broke into the JVP office at Kesbawa situated at Jaliyagoda, Piliyandala today (13th) early morning and destroyed all office equipment, furniture and other assets. A gang of Duminda Silva’s goons had come early morning and had attempted to paste an election poster of Duminda Silva on the notice board of the office. The JVP activists who were present had informed the gang that the name board was for notices of the JVP and more..

'No, government has nothing to do with it'

Feb 14 (LB) Minister Keheliya Rambukwella opines about Gen. Fonseka and his arrest, claiming that the government has no involvement in it. Excerpts: Q: People seem to be confused totally about the arrest of General Sarath Fonseka. As the cabinet defence spokesman can you explain why he was arrested? A: He was arrested because of certain matters he was involved in while he was the Army Commander and CDS. more..

Mahinda’s Coup

Feb 14 (SL) Generally the guy with the guns has staged the coup and the other guy is in jail. Well, Mahinda Rajapaksa has all the guns and Sarath Fonseka is in jail. Coup is not the right word because that’s short and sweet. This government take over is long and getting more and more bitter by the day. A coup is generally when a small group takes control of a country, usually through the military. They occupy key institutions, take over the media and more..

Colombo may entangle itself in a new diplomatic tiff soon

Feb 14 (SL) President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s government is likely to get entangled in a diplomatic row, amidst reports that defence authorities are planning to quiz several journalists, including foreign journalists who were at the Cinnamon Lakeside Hotel during the presidential elections last month. “Even though defence authorities are likely to ‘diplomatically’ handle most of these foreign journalists, more..

Trip to Trinco

Feb 14 (SL) Every year the Stri Kamkaru Madyasthanaya Women’s Center, a non-profit organisation based in Katunayake, plans a weekend trip for garment factory workers to a different part of the country. For this year’s trip, the first since the end of the war, the Center chose to visit Trincomalee and the surrounding areas. Because my fiancée Nimanthi is conducting research in the free trade zone, the Center invited both of us to tag along with the 75 or so more..

Opposition coalesces around Anoma Fonseka

Feb 14 (LB) In a “on the run" move of improvisation, the Opposition plans to form a new political alliance to contest the forthcoming general election and some opposition parties have suggested fielding Anoma Fonseka, in the event general Sarath Fonseka is not released before the close of nominations. When Anoma Fonseka was asked, she said “definitely, I will contest the general election on behalf of general Fonseka in case he is not released”. more..

Ha, who is afraid of the media?

Feb 14 (LB) With a victory margin of seventeen percentage points over his main contender, President Mahinda Rajapaksa ought to be confident of his future. Why then is he swooping down on the same media that he once actively courted in his quest to achieve political supremacy? Since the election of January 26, the government of President Rajapaksa has become widely noticed. more..

You are absolutely correct

Feb 14 (LG) Please allow me to congratulate, through your columns, Ms Tisaranee Gunaskera on her article (Sri Lanka Guardian, 9th February 2010), titled ‘2010: Our Nineteen Eighty-Four’. Many a traditional fairy story ends with, “and they got married and lived happily ever after”. (The second part, “happily ever after”, does not often happen and, perhaps, that is why such tales are described as “fairy”, that is, unreal, stories.) more..

‘Law of keeping your trap shut’

Feb 14 (LB) It’s pretty darn hard to write a funny column these days. There’s so little to laugh about. But let us try. There was this encouraging story in the news last week that said the Right to Information Act will be a reality soon. This groundbreaking announcement is decidedly at odds with the status quo in Sri Lanka where the only law that governs information — and the public’s right to — it is the Law of Keeping Your Trap Shut. more..

'Rajapaksa must keep promise of devolution'

Feb 14 (Hindu) The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam will not remain a mute spectator if there is failure or delay in implementation of assurances by Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, given at the time of the recent presidential election, on devolution of powers to Sri Lankan Tamils, DMK president and Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi said on Saturday. more..

New detention centres to house political prisoners?

Feb 14 (LB) In the wake of increasing numbers of political prisoners, rumours are rife that detention centres were being opened to house these detainees. However, police spokesman, SP Prishantha Jayakody yesterday dismissed all allegations that the eight new detention centres were being established to imprison opposition political supporters. He said that they are being established to streamline the administration of justice regarding terrorist suspects. more..

Cry Sri Lanka, Cry

Feb 14 (SL) Sitting through the press conference on Tuesday last, at the Opposition Alliance’s offices, to hear their condemnation of the arrest of defeated Presidential candidate Sarath Fonseka, was an exercise in amazement. The amazement was on a number of fronts. The first of course was to do with the opposition statement on the retired General’s arrest. He was they said, treated worse than a terrorist; he after all, being the man they credit with ending the war. more..

The General's wife steps forward

Feb 14 (ST) LAST Wednesday, Sri Lankan defence secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa gave me a telephone interview in which he detailed why he and older brother Mahinda, the country's president, felt a need to act so strongly against the military hero who delivered peace to the island after a quarter century's bloody insurgency. For Gen Sarath Fonseka was no ordinary commander. more..

Opposition employees victimised - culprits roam free

Feb 14 (LB) Hundreds of employees in state sector organizations have been politically victimized, while some have been transferred to various departments without any valid reason, while still others have been prevented from reporting for duty. According to reports from several districts and from what’s gleaned by documents forwarded by several organizations, the escalating post election-related violence directed by more..

ICC happy with state of progress of Sri Lanka venues

Feb 14 (CI) The ICC is happy with the progress made at the three Sri Lankan venues for the ICC World Cup in 2011, since its previous inspection in December. Sri Lanka is set to host 12 World Cup matches in Colombo (R Premadasa Stadium), Pallekele and Hambantota. "When we came here for the first visit in December, Sri Lanka Cricket gave us deadlines for the construction. We went to the venues yesterday (Friday) and more..

'Sri Lanka has no plans for net censorship laws yet'

Feb 14 (LBO) Sri Lanka's telecom regulatory authority has not received orders to devise a law to control internet news websites, though monitoring cannot be ruled out in the future, a top official said. "There is nothing in the cards," Anusha Pelpita, director general the TRC said. "Monitoring websites is not in the TRC mandate. Even if we wanted to, it will take at several months to bring in such legislation." more..

Opposition still undecided: Political parties finalise nominations

Feb 14 (SO) With the dissolution of Parliament on February 9, all political parties are now finalising their nominations for the parliamentary elections slated for April 8. The nominations will be accepted from February 19-26. The UPFA which consists of over 30 minor and major political parties is now finalising their nominations to be handed over to the District Returning Officers from February 19, more..

Elections Dept ready for parliamentary polls

Feb 14 (SO) The Elections Department is making arrangements for the smooth conduct of the parliamentary elections to elect 225 Members to the legislature on April 8, after the dissolution of Parliament by President Mahinda Rajapaksa from February 9. Additional Elections Commissioner W. P. Sumanasiri told the Sunday Observer that the Elections Department has already made preliminary arrangements to receive nominations from recognised political parties and more..

'President’s stature unrivalled'

Feb 14 (SO) Former UNP National Organiser and Minister S.B. Dissanayake said conferment of a honorary doctorate to President Mahinda Rajapaksa says the Russian Government and the People’s Friendship University have highly acclaimed the service rendered by the President to the nation. Dissanayake who was recently appointed SLFP Organiser for the Udunuwara electorate in an exclusive interview with the Sunday Observer said more..

Major development projects in the offing

Feb 14 (SO) The Government is committed to fulfill the aspirations of all shanty dwellers in the country by providing them with new houses and other infrastructure facilities including electricity by the year 2020, Minister of Urban Development and Sacred Area Development Dinesh Gunawardene said in an interview with the Sunday Observer. He said although slum dwellers are living in all parts of the country, a record number of them live in urban areas. more..