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Thero says Ranil must apologize

Feb 24 (GDI) The chancellor of the Sabaragamuwa University Venerable Professor Kumburugamuwe Vajira Thero says he rejects with strong disgust the statements made by opposition leader Ranil Wickremasinghe, discrediting the Maha Sangha. Ranil Wickremasinghe must apologise to the Maha Sangha in this regard. Venerable Vajira Thera requests Wickremasinghe to be vigilant in expressing opinions regarding the Maha Sangha. more..

Re-opening schools a priority as thousands return to class

Feb 24 (IRIN) Thousands of children have returned to school in northern Sri Lanka, where efforts are under way to restore the area’s battered education infrastructure. The Government of Sri Lanka aims to have all children from the five districts of Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Mannar, Vavuniya and Mullaitivu back in school by the end of April. At the same time, authorities are working to address the infrastructure needs of schools damaged in the decades-long civil war. more..

‘Yes we can’ paid dividends

Feb 24 (DN) President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday emphasized that the present Government’s ‘Yes we can’ approach had paid rich dividends in delivering the people’s desired expectations in many spheres including the defeat of terrorism and development. He said that the difference between this Government and other regimes was that the present one not only possessed a vision and commitment but also more..

'State officials must learn braille, sign languages'

Feb 24 (DN) A ceremony to award certificates to 24 staff officials who successfully completed the six month training course in Braille and Sign Languages was held at the Social Services and Social Welfare Ministry. The certificates were awarded by Minister Douglas Devananda on whose instructions the training course was conducted to enable the staff to get engaged in a meaningful and result oriented dialogue with persons with disabilities. more..

Govt to fight essential drug scarcities

Feb 24 (Island) The Health Ministry yesterday said steps had been taken to stem the dearth of essential drugs in hospitals by purchasing a three-month stock of drugs to the value of between Rs. 165 and 200 million from India. Acting Health Secretary Dr. Niha Jayatilake said a team of representatives from the Medical Supplies Division and the State Pharmaceutical Corporation, would be deployed, to carry out purchases. more..

Fonseka Fundamental Rights application: No interim relief

Feb 24 (MoD) The Supreme Court refused an application for interim relief to release General Sarath Fonseka, the third applicant in a Fundamental Rights petition, after submissions by the Senior Defence Counsel and the Attorney General yesterday. The Bench Comprising Acting Chief Justice Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake, Justice Jagath Balapatabendi and Justice K. Sripavan also rejected the affidavits more..

‘Policy rates not lowered because banks won’t lend’

Feb 24 (Island) The Central Bank could have reduced policy rates further but were adamant that caution was best in keeping inflation low but an IMF official in Sri Lanka says another reason not to reduce rates could have been the reluctance of commercial banks to pass on the benefit in terms of lower borrowing rates. "When the IMF assists a country, one of the first things we do is to look at inflation and the interest rate environment. more..

Nurses sick note campaign temporarily called off

Feb 24 (Island) Nurses of the National Hospital and several main hospitals yesterday temporarily called off their sick note protest campaign scheduled for today, owing to the political situation in the country. GNOA president Saman Ratnapriya warned yesterday that they would reschedule the protest following the elections. The GNOA, which has held several protests during the last few months, has six demands on their list. more..

'Monitors here for Fonseka’s case'

Feb 24 (DM) A group of representatives from some international organizations are in Sri Lanka to monitor General Sarath Fonseka’s arrest and his legal proceedings, Mrs. Anoma Fonseka said. According to Mrs. Fonseka she has invited at least six organizations including human rights groups to send their representatives to Sri Lanka to monitor the developments following the arrest of her husband by the Military. more..

‘Reject violators of election laws’

Feb 24 (DM) Four key election monitoring bodies yesterday called on voters to avoid voting for candidates who had violated election laws, such as putting up posters and cut-outs for the upcoming Parliamentary elections. The election monitors also called on the police to utilize the state funds allocated for the removal of these materials and carry out the election commissioner’s directives. more..

Sindu, the Malwatta baby elephant that ran amok

Feb 24 (DM) Sindu along with his brother Raju created quite a national sensation in July last year when they were brought to Dalada Maligawa from the Pinnawala elephant orphanage. Although Sindu was given to the Malwatta Temple and Raju was sent to Asgiriya the duo continued to frequent the Maligawa premises and the environs. Last Sunday when Sindu was being fed in the compound of the Diyawadana Nilame, more..

Suicide bombers in Colombo: PM

Feb 24 (DM) Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickramanayake yesterday claimed that according to intelligence sources several LTTE suicide bombers had moved to Colombo at the end of the war but their whereabouts were not known. Mr. Wickramanayake said the defence authorities were on the lookout for these cadres and till such time they were found, the military would be on high alert. more..

Lanka tells US not to dictate

Feb 24 (DM) The government claims that US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian affairs Robert Blake has no right whatsoever to dictate terms to Sri Lanka on its judicial process adopted on the allegations against General Sarath Fonseka adding that Sri Lanka is capable of handling the issue according to the law of the land. more..

Moves to allow principals to admit students

Feb 24 (DN) Principals will be given the authority to admit grade one students to their schools without outside pressure after the elections, Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickramanayaka said. He was speaking at a function at Handupalpola Primary School after opening a computer unit at the school. The Prime Minister said a principal is the responsible individual in a school. more..

'General Fonseka had not responded to our request to become UNF Dep. Leader'

Feb 24 (UNP) Former UNP M.P. Sagala Ratnayake said, Gen. Fonseka ,who was invited to accept the post of Deputy leader of the UNF has still not responded to their request. The UNF which is fielding candidates for 22 Districts at the upcoming Parliamentary elections, has still left the post of Deputy leader open for Gen. Fonseka until the last, to enable him to decide. more..

General election 2010: ‘Reject corrupt politicos’

Feb 24 (Island) NFF leader Wimal Weerawansa urged voters to reject corrupt politicians at the upcoming parliamentary election. The former JVPer said that they wouldn’t get another opportunity to get rid of political heavyweights, allegedly involved in waste, corruption and irregularities. He said that now that the LTTE had been militarily defeated, nothing would be as important as defeating the crooked politicians. more..

Govt. summons UK Acting HC to protest Miliband’s participation

Feb 24 (AD) The Sri Lanka has summoned the Acting British High Commissioner to lodge its “strong protest” against the UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband’s intention to participate at the Global Tamil Forum inaugural meeting, Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama told reporters today. Bogollagama who called a special briefing said that the Global Tamil Forum is an umbrella organization of the now vanquished terrorist group LTTE. more..

Sri Lanka to start ocean survey in oil search

Feb 24 (LBO) Cairn India which is exploring for oil in Sri Lankan waters is to start gathering meteorological data and monitor ocean currents next month ahead of a test drilling programme, an official said. The sub-contract for the 'metocean and currents survey' in the Gulf of Mannar, off the island's north-west is to be awarded soon, said Neil de Silva, head of Sri Lanka's petroleum resources more..

Uva opposition leader remanded over shooting incident

Feb 24 (CT) Opposition leader of Uva Provincial Council Upali Samaraweera surrendered to police today (Feb. 24) over a shooting incident and has been remanded. He had been evading arrest in connection with the incident on the presidential election day on January 26. Mr. Samaraweera has been accused of threatening and shooting at a group of government supporters. more..

Gen. Fonseka signs nominations under 'trophy' symbol

Feb 24 (CT) Gen. Sarath Fonseka today signed nominations under the 'trophy' symbol of the Democratic National Alliance to contest the upcoming general election from Colombo district. He had previously turned down an invitation by the UNP to contest under its 'elephant' symbol. The DNA is a political alliance led by the JVP. more..

Tamils lobby MPs for recognition

Feb 24 (SKY) Sri Lankan activists are meeting senior British politicians in London at the start of a new campaign for an ethnic group crushed in the country's bitter civil war. Foreign Secretary David Miliband and his shadow counterpart William Hague are among the MPs in what is a cross-party sign of support for Tamil attempts for recognition following the bloody end to the conflict last year. For decades, the Tamil Tigers fought a separatist war in Sri Lanka in the hope of more..

Ukrainian couple arrested over double murder

Feb 24 (LP) Ukraine couple was arrested yesterday at the Katunayaka International Airport on suspicion of murder while attempting to flee Sri Lanka. They were taken into custody in connection with the killing of two people in a house at Galpottha road in Nawala. The victims are a seven year old boy and a woman supposed to be a domestic help whose bodies were found at their house in Nawala while another foreign women was admitted to more..

ICG asks diaspora to address root of conflict

Feb 24 (Hindu) International Crisis Group (ICG), an independent non-governmental organisation based in Brussels — with a branch in Colombo — in its latest report has strongly urged the Sri Lankan Tamil Diaspora to jettison once and for all the failed Tamil Eelam agenda of the LTTE and instead put their energies into the quest for a sustainable and just peace in a united Sri Lanka. more..

The dangers of triumphalism

Feb 24 (Dawn) Sri Lanka had barely recovered from the bruising presidential election that saw the incumbent Mahinda Rajapaksa win with a landslide that it finds itself preparing for the general elections on April 8. Thus far, though, the campaign is desultory, with the opposition in disarray. After joining hands under retired General Fonseka in a mighty effort to oust Rajapaksa in the January election, the opposition is reassessing its options. more..

Shares inch up despite wary foreign investors

Feb 25 (Reuters) Shares closed marginally firmer on Wednesday led by mostly local buying on post-war economic optimism and better corporate earnings, but wary foreign investors booked profits ahead of April polls. The All-Share Price Index edged up 5.11 points or 0.14 percent to 3,775.51, its highest close since Feb. 9. "There were retail and institutional buying as investors don't have much other option due to lower interest-rate regime," more..

Miliband criticizes the LTTE

Feb 25 (DM) Foreign Secretary David Miliband speaking at the Global Tamil Forum Conference in London a short while ago heavily criticized the LTTE for the violence it created and for its use of child soldiers. Speaking further, Miliband also called for an investigation into war crimes committed by the LTTE and the Sri Lankan government and called for constitutional changes and power sharing in Sri Lanka. more..

Debrief News - 24.02.2010

Church rebuilt amid war, tsunami

Feb 25 (UCAN) Catholic fishermen have used their own money and labor to rebuild a church damaged by the elements, amid the backdrop of Sri Lanka’s long-running civil war. The new and larger St. Francis Xavier Church in Sakkoddai village, on the northern coast of Jaffna peninsula, now stands in place of the original church, built in 1901. “We rebuilt it for the next generation,” said Agloos Deenkumar, 31, secretary of the parish council and the church development committee. more..

Lanka resettles over 1,000 displaced Tamils in north

Feb 25 (PTI) Sri Lanka has resettled over 1,000 displaced Tamils in their towns and village in the country's war-torn northern region. The government on Tuesday resettled 1,161 displaced Tamils -- 1093 persons (319 families) in Kondaweli DS Division and 68 persons (17 families) in Manthei-- in Kilinochchi District. Arrangements are also being made to resettle around 800 IDPs in Nedunkeni North and West today, officials said. more..

A long way from home

Feb 25 (KN) Canadian winter’s cool reality confronts Nirasha Jayawarna daily as he sets his sights on the horizon, a horizon not nearly as distant as his native Sri Lanka. Jayawarna, 16, is the first Sri Lankan student to take advantage of a new scholarship program offered by the Kamloops-Tangalle Friendship Committee. “I want to be an engineer and I want to teach English,” he said, more..

Sri Lanka civil rights body warns of growing repression

Feb 25 (LBO) Sri Lanka's Civil Rights Movement (CRM) said recent attacks on peaceful anti-government protestors by government supporters indicated an 'alarming slide' towards curbs on democracy. It said in a statement attempts to stifle peaceful forms of dissent could result in violent reactions in the future as has happened in the past in the island which has been wracked by three insurgencies that retarded economic growth. more..

Body found near Speaker's residence & Ministry of Enviromment

Feb 25 (LT) A corpse has been found within the High security Zone under a culvert on the Parliament Road near the official residence of the Speaker and teh Ministry of Environment. The body has not been taken out of the water yet as it has to be taken in the presence of a Magistrate. These are several photographs taken at the scene. more..

Former MPs of JVP sign to contest from 'Trophy'

Feb 25 (LT) Former Parliamentarians of the JVP signed the nomination papers for the forthcoming general election to contest from Democratic National Alliance (DNA) at the head office of DNA at Royal Avenue in Colombo today before the General Secretary Vijithe Herath. Among those who signed the nominations papers today were former MP Sunil Handunneththi for Colombo District, more..

Do candidates need armed security to ask for people’s votes?

Feb 25 (gv) I have read and heard of W. Dahanayake travelling to Colombo from Galle in the morning “Ruhunu Kumari” train with all those other ordinary passengers, getting off at the Kollupitiya station to go to his ministry in Union Place, when he was Co-operative Minister in the J.R. Jayawardne government. That was in early 1980’s. There were other MPs and Ministers too in the past, who used to travel by train to Colombo, to attend parliamentary sessions. more..

The reality of rise of per capita income of Sri Lanka

Feb 25 (LP) Sri Lanka government has proudly announced that the per capita income has risen from $ 2200 to $2300 from 2008 to 2009. Accordingly, if the national income is distributed equally, each Sri Lankan irrespective of age must have a share of Rs. 240,000 annual income. That simply means Rs. 20,000 monthly income and a family that has four members must earn Rs. 100,000 per month. But the data released by the state relates a different story. more..

Tendulkar becomes first to score 200 in ODIs

Feb 25 (Reuters) Sachin Tendulkar became the first batsman to score a double century in one-day internationals on Wednesday. Tendulkar, who opens the batting in ODIs, achieved the feat in the second one-dayer against South Africa, his 200 not out guiding the home team to 401-3 in 50 overs. The 36-year-old former captain holds the record for most runs in tests (13,447) and one-day internationals (17,598) and most centuries in tests (47) and ODIs (46). more..

54 women detainees taken to Boosa prison from detention camps in Vavuniyaa

Feb 25 (TN) Terrorism Investigation Department (TID) arrested 54 women detainees from Pampaimadu and Cheddiku’lam Sri Lanka Army (SLA) detention camps 18 February and took them to Boosa prison 19 February, according to information sent to Jaffna Human Rights Commission (HRC) by Boosa prison authorities. Recently 49 women from the same camps in Vavuniyaa were arrested by TID and taken to Boosa prison for additional interrogation, more..

U.K. defends Miliband’s address to Global Tamil Forum

Feb 25 (Hindu) The British government defended Foreign Secretary David Miliband’s decision to address a meeting of the Global Tamil Forum here saying that Britain would “engage” with all members of the Sri Lankan community who shared its view that a peaceful political solution was the only way to achieve lasting peace in Sri Lanka. “The U.K. firmly believes that the only way to achieve lasting and equitable peace in Sri Lanka is through genuine national reconciliation. more..

British PM meets Tamil delegates

Feb 25 (BBC) British Prime Minister Gordon Brown met delegates of the Global Tamil Forum (GTF) conference in London where the British Foreign Secretary David Miliband addressed the gathering. Delivering the inaugural address of the GTF conference held at the British parliamentary complex on Wednesday the foreign secretary called upon the Sri Lankan government to make constitutional changes aimed at power sharing. more..

Jayalalithaa: From alluring actress to powerful politician

Feb 25 (DBS) India in general and its Tamil Nadu state in particular have spawned many colourful political personalities. Standing out among these figures is Jayalalithaa Jayaram, the actress-politico of Tamil Nadu. The Former Chief Minister and All-India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagham (ADMK) Leader turns 62 today, February 24. Earlier her name was spelled with one ‘a’ (Jayalalitha) at the end. more..