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2008 A'pura arson attack suspects acquitted

Jan 20 (CT) The courts have acquitted 10 suspects in the August 2008 arson attack on the home and medical centre of the late Dr. Raja Johnpulle, a top UNP member in Anuradhapura. State counsels informed Anuradhapura chief magistrate, there was no sufficient evidence to indict the suspects. However, legal proceedings will continue against five other men accused of setting fire to the home and medical centre of the late doctor-politician and causing Rs. 50 million in damage. more..

'Sinister plan on polls eve'

Jan 20 (DN) There was a move to rob or buy National Identity Cards of voters on January 24 or 25 to prevent voters exercising their franchise. We have informed the Elections Commissioner and the Inspector General of Police to take action to deploy mobile police patrols to prevent miscreants resorting to the same tactics adopted by subversive elements during the spate of violence in 1988-90 period, more..

Jaya Pirith for President

Jan 20 (DN) President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday obtained the blessings of the Maha Sangha in Anuradhapura at the Jayasri Maha Bodhi. The Maha Sangha chanted Jaya Pirith for the victory of the President at the Presidential Elections. One thousand five hundred bhikkus headed by Atamasthanadhipathi Ven. Dr. Pallegama Sirinivasa Nayaka Thera, Ruwanweli Chethiyaramadhipathi Ven. Pallegama Hemarathana Nayaka Thera and more..

Sitting on the fence; the Tamils’ choice

Jan 20 (DN) “It is now the time to win over the hearts of the Tamil people. The Tamil speaking people should be protected. They should be able to live without fear and mistrust. That is today the responsibility of us all!” That was the speech by President Mahinda Rajapaksa at Galle Face during a rally. “I have never heard this sort of honest, sensitive speech from a Sinhala leader. It was a rare movement at a rare scene”, said the Tamil Diaspora. more..

Sri Lanka President invites all : Come with me on a new journey

Jan 20 (LNP) President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday invited all to set aside petty differences and embark on a new journey with him (after obtaining a second successive mandate from the people on January 27), to lead Sri Lanka towards a brighter future. The people don t desire differences, hate politics, separatism. What they need is rapid development, lasting peace, disciplined and a law abiding and educated society, more..

Navy assists Indian Fishing Boat in Distress to return safely home

Jan 20 (SLN) Sri Lanka Navy assisted an Indian fishing boat in distress to return safely home yesterday with the provision of required food and fuel to reach the Indian shores. The 22-feet long “Dingy Type” Indian fishing boat had run out of fuel and drifted as a result into Sri Lankan waters. It beached at the Madagal Coast in the Jaffna peninsula yesterday morning around 1150 hrs with a crew of four. more..

Labour Ministry wants Rs. 2,500 private sector wage hike

Jan 20 (Island) The Ministry of Labour has ordered the Commissioner General of Labour to summon the 43 wages boards for discussions to raise private sector wages by Rs. 2,500 in keeping with the wage hike to the public sector, but employers believe wages can only be increased after negotiations and Rs. 2,500 is beyond their reach. Labour Secretary Mahinda Madihahewa said the government wants the sectors covered by the 43 wages boards, more..

'Though I don’t wear a kurakkan shawl I understand the sufferings of the people better'

Jan 20 (UNP) Opposition common Presidential candidate Gen. Fonseka said, though he doesn’t wear a kurakkan color shawl, he knows the fragrance of the kurakkan the people eat. Unlike the family rulers who riding roughshod on the problems of the people, he knows fully well the woes of the people and their tears, he pinpointed. more..

Japan grants Rs 36m for EP

Jan 20 (MoD) The Government of Japan has provided grant assistance amounting to Japanese Yen 29 million (approximately Rs. 36 million) for the purpose of preparing detailed designs for the construction of five bridges in the Eastern Province, a press release from the Japanese Embassy said. The Eastern Province was badly affected by the conflict in the past 30 years, more..

Investigation into defamatory posters

Jan 20 (DM) An investigation is being carried out into the alleged publication of defamatory posters of General Sarath Fonseka in Nugegoda, the police said yesterday. Head of Police Election Desk, Senior Gamini Navaratne said this sort of incidents is plenty and that the police have to deal with them systematically and neutrally. A spokesperson of General Sarath Fonseka however said that despite several police complaints nothing was done about the publication of defamatory posters. more..

Wimal and Muzammil get more letters of demand

Jan 20 (DM) UNP and Mangala Samaraweera sent letters of demand claiming Rs 1000 million from Jathika Nidahas Peramuna (JNP) leader Wimal Weerawansa and its MP M. F. Mohamed Muzammil separately for enacting the alleged bribery drama on a state-run television station, ITN. UNF leader Ranil Wickremasinghe and MP Malik Samarawickrema sent letters of demand together with SLFP (M) leader Mangala Samaraweera. more..

DPF says supporting Sarath Fonseka

Jan 20 (DM) The Democratic People’s Forum (DPF) yesterday announced its support to Presidential candidate Gen. Sarath Fonseka. “The ruling UPFA does not seem to believe that others should have freedom of expression or party affiliations like they do,” former JVP Secretary, Lionel Bopage said “What right have they to talk about democracy? Unlike the President, the General has up to now kept his word about what he promised, more..

What is at stake for Sri Lanka on 26th?

Jan 20 (DM) There is an unprecedented level to next week’s election, as the country goes to the polls to elect its next President, has moved to. The excitement about the election is as has never been about in the country. Faced with the possibility of electing one of two men who have both proved themselves very capable in their different capacities in freeing the country from the terror that tore this country apart for three decades, more..

North free of poll violence. Campaigning at low ebb

Jan 20 (CaFFE) According to the Campaign for Free and Fair Elections (CaFFE), the Northern Province has been the most peaceful province in the run-up to the Presidential election so far. CaFFE said that not a single election related act of violence has been reported from the area, and that there have only been a very few number of complaints regarding unlawful publicity and promotion. more..

Late JRJ's grandson firmly behind President

Jan 20 (GDI) The grandson of former UNP legend and Sri Lanka's first Executive President, late JR Jayewardene who introduced the presidential system of government is supporting the candidature of President Mahinda Rajapaksa at the upcoming presidential election. Pradeep Jayewardene, son of Ravi Jayewardene made this announcement from the legendary home of late President JR Jayewardene at Ward Place in Colombo. more..

Ranil blames LTTE for polls loss

Jan 20 (DM) Opposition UNP leader Ranil Wickramasingha, in an interview with the Europe based Tamil television GTV, blamed the LTTE for his loss in the 2005 elections. Wickramasingha also strongly refuted claims that he was behind the Karuna split from the Tigers. “What happened in the LTTE was an internal issue which I had nothing to do with. It is very, very unfair to put the blame on me. more..

'Opposition plans to get sympathy vote through self-planned violence'

Jan 20 (GDI) National Freedom Front (NFF) Leader, Wimal Weerawansa today disclosed a series of plans by the opposition to gain sympathy of the voters by self-planned attacks on their meetings. Weerawansa said the government had information that the opposition was planning to bomb their own meetings, explode bpmbs at their own press conferences and try similar methods to gain the sympathy vote. more..

'Separatism or terrorism will not be permitted'

Jan 20 (GDI) President Mahinda Rajapaksa pointed out that he cannot leave room for the revival of terror and separatism and warned that the return of an era in which the youth took to arms cannot not be permitted. The President said there was no terrorism or separatism in the country. No one will be permitted to re-introduce terrorism or a fear psychosis period. more..

Govt. spreading polls violence, not us, says JVP

Jan 20 (AD) It is the government that is promotion and spreading polls violence and not the opposition, said JVP MP Anura Kumara Dissanayake. He said that this fact could be proved by the open statements that Education Minister Susil Premajayantha made yesterday accusing the Opposition and especially the JVP of forcibly collecting National Identity Cards from voters in several areas. more..

Monitors slam election violence

Jan 20 (BBC) Sri Lankan groups monitoring the presidential election campaign say the levels of election-related violence and misuse of state resources are at their worst for twenty years or more. So far Sri Lanka has seen four election-related deaths. Reports suggest two victims were involved with the Rajapaksa campaign and two on the Fonseka side. But there have been many more incidents of injuries. more..

Sri Lanka Jan-Nov trade gap narrows on low oil price

Jan 20 (Reuters) Sri Lanka's trade deficit in November narrowed for an 11th straight month, the central bank said on Wednesday, due to low oil prices in 2009 amid the island nation's recovery from the global crisis and a 25-year war. The trade deficit in November narrowed to 251.2 million, while for the first 11 months of 2009, it narrowed 55.1 percent to $2.47 billion. November exports fell 5 percent to $613 million, more..

'Musammil’s ‘bribe’ came from UNP moneybag'

Jan 20 (Island) UNP crossover S. B. Dissanayake told the media yesterday that the Rs 300 million allegedly handed over to parliamentarian M. Muzamil by the Opposition had been given by a wealthy businessman and UNP strongman (name withheld on legal advice) and it was in bags bearing the name of the businessman’s company. more..

No criticism of Labor as Australia rejects Tamil refugees

Jan 21 (wsws) Not a word of critical comment has appeared in the media about the Australian government’s decision last week to refuse protection visas to five Tamil refugees—and two children—accused by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) of being security threats. In violation of internationally-recognised principles, the Rudd government has denied visas to the seven even after the UNHCR classified them as genuine refugees. more..

Sri Lanka to get solar power plant from Korea

Jan 21 (LBO) Sri Lanka is getting a 500 kiloWatt solar power plant from Korea which will be built in Hambantota in the south of the island and used to gain more knowledge on operating the technology. The plant will be run by the Sri Lanka Sustainable Energy Authority, which licenses and promotes renewable energy use in the country, after it is built by Korea. The Korean International Co-operation Agency will give 4.5 million US dollars as more..

Debrief News - 20.01.2010

Sri Lanka citizen's group writes to presidential front runners

Jan 21 (LBO) A Sri Lankan citizen's group has written to the two main candidates running for next weeks polls asking for more attention to the island's minority groups and constitutional reforms to promote equality to all citizens. "We note with distress a major lacuna in both manifestos," the group, Friday Forum said in a letter to president Mahinda Rajapaksa and common opposition candidate retired general Sarath Fonseka. more..

President is to be credited for LTTE's defeat: Minister

Jan 21 (IE) President Mahinda Rajapaksa is the only authority to declare a war and responsible for its outcome, a Sri Lankan minister has said, apparently seeking to downplay ex-army chief and opposition presidential candidate Sarath Fonseka's statements taking credit for LTTE's defeat. "A war in a country can only be declared by the head of that state. In our country too, this can be done only by President Mahinda Rajapaksa as Commander-in-Chief of all armed forces," more..

‘Fifty-fifty’ in Sri Lanka

Jan 21 (Dawn) The other day, Nandi, our housekeeper, returned from her shopping expedition, and announced in a shocked voice that sugar had gone up to 109 rupees a kilo. In Sri Lanka, this works out to nearly a dollar, or about 85 Pakistani rupees. Rice, the Sri Lankan staple, has shot up too. An interesting scam about rice was reported in the Sunday Leader: apparently, while the international price of the popular short grain variety is $360 per tonne, more..

Kiwis cruise past Lankan challenge

Jan 21 (ESPN) Harry Boam starred with the bat for New Zealand as they beat Sri Lanka by seven wickets in their ICC U19 World Cup clash. Set a mere 196 to win after the Kiwis put Sri Lanka in to bat, Boam took it upon himself to help his side sail through. The opener remained unbeaten on a patient 85 off 151 deliveries and added 74 runs for the second wicket with Jimmy Neeshan (47) once Tom Latham perished in the second over. more..

Election participation can empower Tamils

Jan 21 (UPI) With the race for the Sri Lankan presidency getting increasingly close and uncertain, there has been considerable speculation as to why President Mahinda Rajapaksa chose to shorten his presidential term. The president called for fresh elections two years before they are due. A common explanation is that he wished to take full advantage of his victory over the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. more..

ONE-on-ONE on Derana TV

Hicorp director remanded further

Jan 21 (CT) Colombo Fort additional magistrate Lanka Jayaratne has further remanded a director of Hicorp Pvt. Ltd., said to be owned by Gen. Sarth Fonseka's son-in-law Danuna Tillakaratne. Wellington de Hoedt was sent into remand custody until February 10, as the CID opposed his being given bail, saying they were still probing documentary evidence furnished from the Army, upon which the arrest was made. more..

‘Commissions for human rights violations have failed’

Jan 21 (IPS) Sri Lanka’s nearly three decades of civil war may be over, but questions about war crimes and gross human rights violations committed during the final stages of that battle in 2009 continue to haunt the South Asian nation. Yet a commission of inquiry to examine such allegations is not the answer, says Kishali Pinto-Jayawardena, a lawyer and human rights advocate. more..

K.T. Francis: The Doyen

Jan 21 (AC) Sri Lanka's K.T.Francis, 70, is a legend among umpires, having been officiating in one form or another for over 40 years. An ICC Elite panel umpire before he retired from the international arena, after standing in 25 Tests and 56 One-Day Internationals from 1982 to 1999, starting with Sri Lanka’s first home ODI and Inaugural Test. His career was marked by a steadiness and diligence throughout, more..

Still no justice for fallen martyrs

Jan 21 (UCAN) Not one person has been held accountable for the murders of 13 clergy and lay rights workers who struggled for justice during more than 25 years of civil war. But the men and women have been declared martyrs as their friends, family and parishioners try to make sense of the deaths. The healing process has been made harder by knowing their murderers remain free. The community here held a procession which gathered more..

Sri Lanka war chiefs fight for peace spoils

Jan 21 (ISN) He may seem the most unlikely candidate of all, but former army chief General Sarath Fonseka has shaken off the Sri Lankan establishment and engaged in a fierce campaign to beat his former ally to the presidential throne. General Fonseka, the very man who led the army to victory, and once part of current president Mahinda Rajapaksa’s inner circle, dramatically turned against the power in place and declared he would run against his old friend in the election. more..

Book Review: Twilight of the Tigers

Jan 21 (TC) Twilight of the Tigers is essential reading for any person interested in the political history of Sri Lanka during the first decade of this century. With measured argument and in lucid prose Gerald Peiris challenges the belief that territorial devolution is a viable means of resolving Sri Lanka’s political problems and questions the thinking that launched the peace process in 2000-01. more..

EU "deeply concerned" by Sri Lanka political violence

Jan 21 (DPA) The European Union's foreign-policy director, Catherine Ashton, is 'deeply concerned' by political violence in Sri Lanka, a statement released in Brussels said Wednesday. At least four people have been killed in separate incidents in the past week ahead of presidential elections scheduled for Tuesday. Ashton is 'deeply concerned by mounting pre-electoral violence in Sri Lanka, which has already caused deaths and numerous injured,' the statement said. more..

'I’ll abolish Devananda-Rajapakse agreement as soon as I become President'

Jan 21 (LT) The ‘Sathyagraha’ of Bhikkus that commenced yesterday demanding ‘the abolishment of Dougles Devananda- Mahinda Rajapakse agreement’ was concluded today evening when apolitical Common Candidate Gen. Sarath Fonseka made a written promise to the Bhikkus. MP Wijedasa Rajapakse and UNP MP Karunasena Kodituwakku, who arrived as representatives of Gen. Sarath Fonseka at the site where the ‘Sathyagraha’ was being held, more..

Govt’s fabrication exposed – Sambanthan’s signature in Sinhalese!

Jan 21 (LT) The fake document prepared to show that there was an agreement between apolitical Common Candidate Gen. Sarath Fonseka and TNA Leader R. Sambanthan was revealed to the media today (20th) by Secretary General of the UNP Tissa Attanayake.‘Lankaatruth’ revealed a few days ago that such a document would be produced by the government. more..

An objective report of a visitor to Sri Lanka

Jan 21 (LG) Happy Thai Pongal to everyone, and hope there will be peace and prosperity to our Tamil brethren in Sri Lanka, finally, in the coming year. I just returned from a visit to Sri Lanka. This was undertaken with a resolution to meet and see things from an individual perspective rather than on any conducted tour. It is election time and obviously many goodies were promised and expected. more..

Surveys with conflicting outcomes

Jan 21 (GV) There was a survey on the next presidential election conducted by an Indian firm-Viplav Communications Pvt Ltd during January 6-13. They say the sample size is 10,225 and forecast “The poll shows Rajapaksa (MR) leading in all provinces other than the Tamil-dominated north and multi-racial east and enjoying a 12 percent lead over his opponent in the island as a whole.” I got two feedbacks from two prominent personalities in Sri Lanka on this survey; more..

Believable Change or Promises Delivered? Sarath Fonseka vs. Mahinda Rajapaksa

Jan 21 (GV) With just about a week to go for elections and both candidates having gone public with their manifests along with the policy commitments, this is an opportune time to have a comparative look at what’s been offered by each of them. The Fonseka camp has almost always been the first to come up with policy and welfare offers whereas Rajapaksa camp has been offering their side of the solutions thereafter. more..

Thai Pongal celeberated at Sri Lanka’s Mission in Washington

Jan 21 (AT) The Embassy of Sri Lanka in Washington DC together with the Sri Lankan community in the Greater Washington area, for the fifth consecutive year celebrated the Thai Pongal festival at a colorful ceremony at the Embassy on January 17. A cross-section of the Sri Lankan Tamil community resident in the greater Washington area and representatives of the Sri Lanka-related associations were present at the event. more..

The 'Change' euphoria in Sri Lanka’s Presidential Election

Jan 21 (AT) By end 2009, almost 700,000 Americans had lost their jobs, 1.4million Americans were unemployed, a further 30,000 US troops had been sent to Afghanistan and Iraq was being replaced with Iran. Summing up the disappointment felt by most Americans on the Obama “Change” was a single poster that read “He has a Dream, We got a Nightmare”. It is now Sri Lanka’s turn to carry the 'Change' slogan and more..

Ban concerned over rising violence ahead of presidential polls

Jan 21 (UN) Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today expressed his concern over growing violence in Sri Lanka, including the reported killings of political activists, as the country’s people prepare to head to the polls to elect a new president. Mr. Ban called on all Sri Lankan parties and their supporters to refrain from violence, abide by the electoral laws and rules, and avoid provocative actions both during and after the election period, more..

Lanka Prez, ex-general bring Eelam into battle

Jan 21 (AA) The war against the LTTE got over with the fall of Velupillai Prabhakaran in May last year but the "terrible" theme of separation he represented continues to occupy centrestage in the political battle ahead of Sri Lanka’s January 26 presidential elections, with the camp of incumbent Mahinda Rajapaksa accusing challenger Sarath Fonseka, who as Army Chief had led the long war against the Tigers, of promising "Eelam" to the Tamils in return for their vote. more..

NGO cautions on fairness in Sri Lankan poll

Jan 21 (Hindu) A day after Sri Lankan Election Commissioner Dayananda Dissanayake reportedly expressed disappointment over the failure of the authorities to ensure faithful implementation of the election guidelines related to January 26 presidential poll by all the parties in general and the state media in particular, a Colombo-based NGO thinktank on Wednesday cautioned that “impunity surrounding election-related practices”, if further tolerated, more..

Minister Bandula Gunawardena on YaTV

Liberalism poses severe challenge to Sinhala nationalism at 2010 presidential election

Jan 21 (TC) The 2010 Presidential election is a critical juncture in Sri Lankan history. The people have realised this as well, as is seen by the sheer density of discourse that has taken place over the past days and weeks. As it appears, the Sri Lankan public has sharply divided itself between the two main contending camps in the election, and it is our position that the severe conflict that can be seen between the two main camps is more..