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Sri Lanka pledges $4 billion to rebuild war zone

Jan 13 (Reuters) Sri Lanka has earmarked $4 billion to rebuild the island nation's war-shattered north, part of a plan to eliminate lingering support for the defeated Tamil Tiger separatists, President Mahinda Rajapaksa said on Tuesday. Sri Lanka's Tamils are considered an important swing vote in the Jan. 26 presidential election, at which Rajapaksa is seeking a second term and is facing a stiffer-than-expected challenge from former army commander General Sarath Fonseka. more..

Indian origin Tamils with Fonseka

Jan 13 (EB) Barring the plantation workers suporting the CWC led by Arumugan Thondaman, Sri Lanka’s Tamils of Indian origin seem to be strongly with Gen.Sarath Fonseka in the run up to the January 26 Presidential election. Following the recent decision of the TNA, a North Eastern Tamil political combine, to support Fonseka, there is a new enthusiasm among the Indian Origin Tamils to support the retired General against Mahinda Rajapaksa in the Presidential race. more..

Debrief News - 12. 01. 2010

US calls for peaceful elections in Sri Lanka

Jan 13 (IANS) The US said Tuesday that it was 'deeply concerned' over the escalating violence linked to the Jan 26 presidential elections in Sri Lanka. Referring to a fatal shooting, an American embassy statement urged the authorities 'to conduct a full investigation of this and other acts of violence and to protect those exercising their democratic right to support the candidate of their choice. more..

Land grants give poor a chance at self-help

Jan 13 (UCAN) A priest is providing food security for some of the country's poorest thanks to two hectares of land donated by a Catholic landlord. "Dimuthu" (Center For Poverty Alleviation), run by Father Jude Nicholas Fernando provides plots of land to grow fruit and vegetables, as well as assistance in children's schooling. The land in Seemaweliya village, in Sri Lanka's Western Province, is now home to 15 Catholic families mostly Sinhalese. more..

'Rajapakse’s salary increase for state employees is an election gimmick'

Jan 13 (LT) The Rajapakse government that shattered all hopes of the working masses stating at the threshold of the presidential election and a few hours before the postal voting that a salary increase of Rs.2500 would be given from the next budget proposals is merely an election gimmick to deceive state employees states National Trade Union Centre (NTUC) issuing an announcement. more..

Severe overcrowding at Bogambara Prisons

Jan 13 (AHRC) The Asian Human Commission expresses its serious concern over the conditions of overcrowding in Bogambara prison. The government should take notice of the situation and take measures to deal with the unnecessary suffering caused to the prisoners due to overcrowding. Bogambara Prison is a maximum security prison and is the second largest prison in Sri Lanka. It is situated in the city of Kandy and was constructed in 1876. more..

Govt. 'aware of' Lasantha killers

Jan 13 (BBC) Media activists have vowed to continue protests until the media freedom is established in the war battered nation. In a protest in Colombo to mark the first anniversary since the assassination of Lasantha Wickramathunga, the activists accused the government of deliberately not taking action against murder suspects. Sunil Jayasekara, secretary of FMM, said authorities have publicly stated that they are aware of those responsible for the killing. more..

Navy commander visits Northern and Eastern naval bases

Jan 17 (SLN) Commander of the Sri Lanka Navy Vice Admiral Thisara Samarasinghe visited several Naval bases in the Northern and Eastern Naval Areas on 10th and 11th January 2009 respectively. He inspected the Naval Deployments in Kayts, Nainathivu and Kankasanthurei in the North and Thavulweva, Pulmudai and North of Trincomalee and looked into the welfare of the Naval personnel on deployment. more..

The first murder of Presidential Election 2010 campaign

Jan 13 (TC) Interview with Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, Co-Convenor of the Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) over the murder of a political party supporter in Tangalla today and the lobbing of a hand grenade in Batticaloa. At 12.20 pm today, a bus containing UNP supporters was shot at on the Thalunna road in the Hungama area in Thangalle. Ms. Kusumawathie Kuruppuarachchi who suffered gunshot wounds to the stomach was initially admitted to the Thangalla hospital. more..

Unsolicited New Year’s Day text message and the conduct of free and fair presidential election

Jan 13 (TC) On 6 January 2010, the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) wrote to Mr. Dayananda Dissanayake, the Commissioner of Elections expressing serious concerns over an unsolicited New Year’s Day text message sent on behalf of the President and other consequential issues arising over the conduct of a free and fair presidential election. CPA in its letter noted that these concerns were brought to Mr. Dissanayake’s attention at first instance, more..

The second coming of Upul Tharanga

Jan 13 (CI) It's amazing how quietly Upul Tharanga has displaced Sanath Jayasuriya from the opener's slot. It's almost a bloodless coup assisted by the team management who want to look at the future beyond Jayasuriya. It wasn't far back that Tharanga himself was struggling to put bat to ball and was dropped. Interestingly, his exit paved the way for Tillakaratne Dilshan to cement his place as a dashing opener and more..

Government of Sri Lanka condemns election violence

Jan 13 (PRN) The following is a statement by the Government of Sri Lanka on the incident of violence at Tangalle killing one person and injuring several others: "The Government of Sri Lanka is appalled at this tragedy, vehemently condemns it, and will not tolerate any such acts of violence in the midst of this democratic electoral process. "All steps are being taken to bring those responsible to justice. more..

Are we going the 'Wayamba' way again?

Jan 13 (LG) Given the current violence of the pre-polls period, there is no doubt that this will only intensify in the weeks ahead. There are two key questions in this regard. First, what are the precise directives issued by the Commissioner of Elections and the Inspector General of Police to ensure freedom of movement to electors from their residences to the polling station on the day of the poll, more..

M.I.A. attacks New York Times over article

Jan 13 (CO) Some music superstars build a shell around themselves with their success, making calculated moves to improve their PR status and rocking the boat as little as possible. As she's proven time and time again, M.I.A. is not that kind of superstar. In a recent New York Times article titled "The 31 Places to Go in 2010", the top spot was given to Sri Lanka, more..

A General scorned

Jan 13 (LG) "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned". Whoever said it, Shakespeare or Congreve, its a ‘general’ statement that is unfair to women. General Fonseka feels scorned by President Mahinda Rajapaksa and the Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa. His fury has made all hell boil over and what hell mates have been spewed to support his revolt against the President. All ye that enter tremble. more..

It’s politics, stupid

Jan 13 (LG) The two main contenders for the presidency blundered into a substantive issue in their campaigns last week, although they were rather more interested in trading smears than explaining what they were going to do about it. Corruption, they seemed to agree, is everywhere. We didn’t need them to tell us. It’s something most people have seen for themselves. I don’t mean to imply that this is a particularly corrupt nation. more..

In my view Sarath Fonseka has been contracted to perform three main tasks

Jan 13 (TC) It was Edmund Burke who said , ‘all that is needed for evil to thrive is for good people to do nothing’. This dictum appears to have been the guiding principle, the motivating force in SL Gunasekera’s life. During the last three decades or so whenever those evil forces raised their head to undermine the sovereignty of our country, and more..

Crisis in the rice market: Is it due to conflicting interventionist policies?

Jan 13 (BL) The rice market has been intervened by the government to attain two conflicting goals. That is to protect both the consumer and the farmer simultaneously. To protect the consumer, several popular varieties of rice have been brought under price controls in the midst of a global rice shortage and the local prices exerting pressure for increases. To protect the farmer, the importation of rice has been under government control with more..

60 to 65% postal voter turnout

Jan 13 (BL) Postal voting in the presidential elections started yesterday with election monitors claiming an average of 60-65 percent of voter turnout on the first day itself. Executive Director of PAFFREL, Rohana Hettiarachchi said that postal voting was comparatively peaceful with election related incidents taking place in only two polling centres yesterday. He said that there was illegal campaigning in the polling centres. more..

'Foreign missions blessed SF-TNA pact'

Jan 13 (BL) Minister of Foreign Affairs Rohitha Bogollagama said yesterday that foreign nations should not interfere in the domestic affairs of a country, referring to the speculations that certain foreign mission representatives were present when the TNA signed the alleged agreement with Presidential candidate General Sarath Fonseka. more..

Sapugaskanda oil refinery to be closed down for maintenance

Jan 13 (BL) Countries only oil refinery at Sapugaskanda will be closed down for maintenance during the month of February. According to the Chairman of the Ceylon Petroleum Cooperation General Asoka Thoradeniya the refinery will be kept closed for 45 days starting from February 8. “This is a bi-annual process” he said. During the shut down period, the refinery will be dismantled, which means more..

One freed, but what about the others silenced in Sri Lanka?

Jan 13 (CPJ) With Monday’s release of J. S. Tissainayagam on bail, maybe things are looking up for the media in Sri Lanka. CPJ welcomed Tissainayagam’s release from a sentence of 20 years' “rigorous imprisonment,” but called on President Mahinda Rajapaksa to extend him a full pardon, as it is within his presidential powers to do. For now, at least, Tissa, as he is known, is out of his prison cell though not free to leave the country more..

Sri Lanka Tea and Drought

Shiranthi Rajapakse seeks Jaffna Bishop’s help

Jan 13 (TN) Shiranthi Rajapakse, wife of President Mahinda Rajapakse, paid a visit to Jaffna Bishop’s House Monday evening where she entreated Jaffna Bishop, Rt. Rev. Thomas Saundaranayagam to help get the people of Jaffna peninsula to vote for her husband in the presidential election, Bishop House sources said. She had also requested him to ask the peninsula residents not to refrain from voting in the forthcoming presidential election, more..

Is Ban-Ki-moon distancing UN from Philip Alston on Sri Lankan issue?

Jan 13 (TC) Days after video footage depicting Sri Lankan soldiers murdering naked and blindfolded prisoners was authenticated by UN Special Rapporteur Philip Alston, Inner City Press asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to comment on Alston's urging him to establish a commission of inquiry on war crimes, as Mr. Ban did in Guinea. Mr. Ban's answer, surprising to some, distanced Mr. Alston from the UN, more..

President Rajapaksa inaugurates two bridges for public use

Jan 13 (IL) President Mahinda Rajapaksa inaugurated a bridge across the river at Hirana, Bandaragama and another flyover bridge at Pannipitiya this morning on 12th January. President Rajapaksa inspected the Bandaragama Bridge linking Hirana in Panadura and Kidelpitiya in Bandaragama and instructed to open it immediately for public use from today onwards. more..

Sri Lanka opposition says better governance will preserve trade concessions

Jan 13 (LBO) Sri Lanka's opposition presidential candidate promised better governance which will lead to a continuation of trade concessions from the European Union and tough new anti corruption laws. Retired general Sarath Fonseka, who led a campaign to crush the Tamil Tigers said a return of better governance would ensure the continuation of the GSP+ trade concessions from Europe. more..

Support for Mahinda in Jaffna declines

Jan 13 (TN) Sri Lanka Army being reluctant to permit resettlement in its High Security Zone (HSZ) in Valikaamam North, whatever support that President Mahinda Rajapakse had in Jaffna peninsula began to decline fast, sources in Jaffna said. Besides, TNA MP, Sivasakthi Ananthan had told ‘Valampuri’, the Tamil daily published in Jaffna, that SLA soldiers at Thellippazhai had demanded Ministry of Defence (MOD) permission from him to enter the HSZ and more..

Polling cards for Vanni IDPs to be issued in Vavuniyaa

Jan 13 (TN) The Commissioner of Elections has announced that the IDPs from Vanni held in the detention camps in Vavuniyaa will be issued with polling cards for the presidential election, from Tuesday at Vavuniyaa Maththiya Mahaa Viththiyaalayam. However, the Election Commissioner’s announcement did not say anything about the IDPs from Ki’linochchi district who are not permitted to resettle in their own places. more..

Relief measures to the farming community

Jan 13 (GDI) Minister Maithripala Sirisena has referred to measures adopted by President Mahinda Rajapaksa for the well being of farmers. He said to develop the economy, the agricultural industry had to be developed. There was an era in which the farmers had to experience many difficulties. However, the situation has changed with the enormous relief granted to the farmers by the Government. more..

Benefits increase for Samurdhi Officers

Jan 13 (GDI) President Mahinda Rajapaksa has assured many benefits to Samurdhi Officers. Samurdhi officers will be elevated to position of Grama Niladari. In addition Samurdhi officers will be granted a pension scheme. The President assured to increase the allowance for Samurdhi officers to one thousand rupees. A Samurdhi family with children under the age of three will receive 1,500 rupees per child. more..

Rebirth of hydraulic civilisation in Sri Lanka

Jan 13 (DN) The irrigation industry in Sri Lanka is functioning under the guidance of Ports, Aviation and Irrigation Minister Chamal Rajapaksa. His Ministry is one of the most important Ministries. Access to water and irrigation is a major determinant of paddy cultivation and the stability of yields. The rapport between water resource and agriculture will not survive without irrigation. more..

'Govt. to increase per capita income'

Jan 13 (GDI) The Government has planned to increase the per capita income of the country from the present US $ 2000 to US $ 4000 through the policies outlined in the election manifesto of President Mahinda Rajapaksa., Western Provincial Councillor and JHU Legal Advisor Udaya Gammanpila said at a media conference held at the Mahaweli Center. more..

Navy rescues a critically injured fisherman in mid-sea

Jan 13 (MoD) Sri Lanka Navy rescued a critically-injured fisherman in mid-sea on (11th) and rushed him ashore for immediate medical assistance in the early hours today. The skipper of the Multi-day Fishing Trawler "Palinga 01" had been critically injured whilst engaged in fishing 100 kilometers east of Mullaithivu. The mishap had made the skipper badly in need of medical assistance and put the crew and the craft in peril. more..

Measures to develop heritage cities

Jan 13 (LP) Minister Dinesh Gunawardena said the Government plans to expedite the economic development programs by considering all religious and heritage sites in all four religions in the country. Speaking at a symposium on Planning for Sacred Cities - Sri Lanka organized by the Urban Development and Sacred Area Development Ministry, Minister Gunawardena said that city planning and sacred areas development is important aspects. more..

'People will defeat secret pacts'

Jan 13 (MoD) President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday said he had no doubt that secret pacts, which were threatening to divide the country once again, would be defeated by the people's power on January 26. Addressing a UPFA sponsored election rally in Ratmalana in support of President Rajapaksa, he told the gathering to vote wisely at the upcoming presidential poll to protect the victory. more..

'People will tell world they are against terrorism'

Jan 13 (MoD) On January 26, the people of this country will tell the world they are against separatism, President Mahinda Rajapaksa said yesterday addressing the massive UPFA election rally at Ambalangoda.He emphatically stated that he would not allow anyone to betray the hard earned freedom won. The President said the people of this country should teach a lesson to those who attempt to betray the country and its unity. more..

A public lecture on ‘’January 15th Solar eclipse & viewing guidance’’

Jan 13 (LP) A public lecturer organized by the Institute of Physics, Sri Lanka on ‘’January 15th Solar Eclipse & Viewing Guidance’’ will be held today (13) at 4.00 p.m. at the New Physics Lecture Theatre (NPLT), Department of Physics, University of Colombo. The solar eclipse due on January 15th 2010 is visible to northern parts of Sri Lanka as an annular solar eclipse and to the southern parts of the country as a partial solar eclipse more..

Tissainayagam the first journalist convicted under PTA granted bail by appeal court

Jan 13 (TC) The Court of Appeal yesterday (11) granted bail to Senior Journalist J.S.Tissainayagam pending his appeal against his conviction and sentence by the High Court under Prevention of Terrorist Act. Justices Ranjith Silva and O.S.L.Lecamwasam granted him cash bail of Rs 50,000 and the Appellant is to surrender his passport to the registrar of the Court. more..

Demo against TRC order to stop Shakthi TV telecast in Jaffna

Jan 13 (LG) A peaceful demonstration was held opposite the Jaffna courts complex yesterday in protest over the order issued by the Sri Lanka Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (TRC) to halt the telecasting of Shakthi TV in Jaffna. The large group of protestors requested that operations of Shakthi TV, which continuously telecast for six years since 2003 amidst attacks and a war environment, not be interrupted. more..

Standing the world on its head!

Jan 13 (GV) I can’t understand this, so will someone explain it please. It is being reported in the local press and local electronic media that the Rajapakses have gained popularity among Sinhala voters in recent days because the UN Special Reporter Philip Alston, the UN Secretary General, and the Western press, have reinforced their accusations of human rights violations and war crimes against the Rajapakse regime. more..

We can believe in NO candidate in 2010. What’s new though, right?

Jan 13 (GV) The big day is fast approaching, and every water-cooler, tea/cigarette break, meeting intermission is a hive of discussion on the latest thoughts on the election. But the whole run up to the election seems familiar, ridiculous and sad. For Sri Lanka there will never be change we can truly believe in. It will always be politics as usual. more..

Mahinda offers greater autonomy for Tamils

Jan 13 (LT) According to AFP news published today President Mahinda Rajapakse has offered greater autonomy to Tamils. The news agency states the offer which suggests power-sharing arrangements to give minority Tamils a greater say in the legislature and address long-standing demands for devolution of power has been brought about ahead of the presidential election in which the minority community could play a decisive role. more..

Sarath files FR against Sarath

Jan 13 (AD) Presidential Candidate Sarath Kongahage had filed a Fundamental Rights petition challenging the candidacy of Rtd. Gen. Sarath Fonseka at the upcoming Presidential Elections. On December 17, 2009 Sarath Kongahage raised an objection claiming the legitimacy of Fonseka’s nomination due to the fact that he is a citizen of Americaduring the time allotted for objections after handing over nominations for the Prez polls. more..

'President so scared of the swan , he flees when he sees it , not the swan'

Jan 13 (UNP) Tissa Attanayake, Gen. Secretary of the UNP said, the President is so paranoid when he sees the swan that his supporters have attacked a cinema Hall at Matara which was showing the film ‘sudu Hansi’. About 25 armed men had come and attacked the cinema. This clearly shows what great fear the Govt. and the President are entertaining in regard to the rival candidate Gen. Fonseka more..

Sunday lankadeepa Editor who published bogus news escapes :reporter resigns

Jan 13 (LeN) Dayaseeli Liyanage, the reporter of the Lankadeepa newspaper who published a fabricated and false report on the 10th Sunday Lankadeepa attributed to TNA Leader Sampanthan M.P. based on an interview with him which Sampanthan denied, handed over her letter of resignation today (12) to the Administration Division and left the Office. She resigned her post following an inquiry held by the Chairman of the Wijeya newspapers more..

Canada to assist election monitoring for Prez Polls

Jan 13 (AD) The Canadian High Commission in Colombo today announced that it will fund an election monitoring project of the People’s Action for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL) aimed at supporting a conducive environment for the upcoming presidential elections. Full Release; The Canadian High Commission is pleased to announce that it is helping to fund an election monitoring project of the PAFFREL. more..

Elections Comm. disgusted: Police and State media acting as UPFA lackeys

Jan 13 (LeN) At the discussion yesterday, between the Political party representatives and the Elections Commissioner, it was seriously questioned whether there is any meaning in holding the Presidential elections when the Police and the State media are acting as lackeys and representatives of the Govt. The Commissioner who was thoroughly disillusioned remarked that, at this rate it is impossible to hold a fair and free election. more..

‘Conspiracy to topple government’

Jan 13 (DN) The US and other capitalist countries smarting under their failure to stop the war and prevent the total defeat of the LTTE have hatched a conspiracy to topple the Mahinda Rajapaksa government by getting a retired general to contest at the forthcoming Presidential election, said Southern Provincial Council member and LSSP politburo member Ven. Dr. Baddegama Samitha Thera in a statement issued yesterday. more..