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Police warn of moves to rig presidential poll

Jan 24 (ST) Police warned yesterday there was an organized attempt to rig Tuesday’s Presidential poll as prelates of four leading Buddhist sects appealed jointly to stop misuse of state property and “character assassinations.” “I have received confirmed reports that there is an organized attempt to collect National Identity Cards (NICs) from voters to rig the polls,” Police Chief Mahinda Balasuriya told a news conference at Police Headquarters yesterday. more..

No National Identity Cards for 1 million voters

Jan 24 (ST) An estimated one million people do not have National Identity Cards or other forms of identity papers to vote at Tuesday’s Presidential election, officials and independent poll monitors said yesterday. Elections Commissioner Dayananda Dissanayake declared that only about 200,000 people had applied for the temporary NICs that would enable them to vote as the deadlines ended. more..

'I’m no De Gaulle, Eisenhower, Hitler or Idi Amin, I am myself'

Jan 24 (ST) The campaigning schedule of the opposition's "common candidate", retired General Sarath Fonseka has been a punishing one. Since nominations last month, between mounting stages to address rallies in various parts of the country and chairing conferences, he has found little time. Lunch has often been a packet of sandwiches eaten whilst being driven from one rally to another. more..

'I am confident of winning with a comfortable majority'

Jan 24 (ST) President Mahinda Rajapaska met with several journalists from the English and Tamil Sunday newspapers at the –President’s House in Kandy last Wednesday in one of his last interviews with the media before Tuesday’s presidential election. He answered questions on a range of subjects. Here are excerpts: Journalist: If you are elected for a second term, what will you give priority to? more..

Sri Lanka candidates trade barbs

No takers for Mervyn Silva’s bet of Rs 40m

Jan 24 (LB) Non cabinet Minister Mervyn Silva yesterday said that he was flummoxed that no one had still responded to his Rs 40 million bet on President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s triumph in the upcoming Presidential polls. Silva said, “I announced that I was willing to take a bet of Rs 40 million that President Mahinda Rajapksa will win. I made this announcement so many days ago, but no one has responded. more..

Seize opportunity to rid country of hate and corruption, says CBK

Jan 24 (ST) Former President Chandrika Kumaratunga yesterday has appealed to the nation to seize the opportunity for change and work towards ridding the country of hatred, intolerance, inequality, lies, corruption, nepotism and bad governance. “The prevailing violence and the breakdown in law and order poses a serious challenge to democracy, democratic institutions and values, more..

President calls upon all those who love the country to join him

Jan 24 (NS) President Mahinda Rajapaksa called upon all people who loved Sri Lanka to join hands with him at the final public rally held in Kesbewa yesterday. “I call upon all patriots to join us. I call upon the orphaned UNP to join us. Don’t be orphaned. Come and join us. It’s not yet too late. This country is yours. This land belongs to our future generations; our youth. more..

'Rs. 350 billion projected loss due to corruption in 2009'

Jan 24 (Island) The projected loss due to corruption in 2009 was between Rs. 350 and Rs. 400 billion, the Opposition’s Common Presidential Candidate, Sarath Fonseka said yesterday. The staggering figures translated in terms of ministry estimates was more than twice the Defence Bill and 15 times that of the allocation for education, he told the "Sunday Island". more..

After Sri Lanka's war, victors vie for presidency

Jan 24 (Reuters) Sri Lanka's first post-war presidential election due on Tuesday has turned into a violent contest between two former allies who led the nation to victory over the Tamil Tigers but who are now bitter political foes. President Mahinda Rajapaksa is facing an unexpectedly strong challenge from General Sarath Fonseka, who as army commander led a more..

Sri Lanka's opposition warns of election coup

Jan 24 (AFP) Sri Lanka's opposition on Sunday raised the tension ahead of this week's presidential election by accusing the ruling regime of preparing to stage a coup to hang onto power. Citing what they said was credible information, opposition leaders pointed to troop movements, plans to prevent the election commissioner announcing a result and preparations to disrupt the media. more..

Sri Lanka's president hit by defection

Jan 24 (AFP) Sri Lanka's president suffered a major defection on Sunday when the matriarch of his party pledged support for the main opposition candidate ahead of Tuesday's fiercely contested election. Former president Chandrika Kumaratunga met the common opposition candidate Sarath Fonseka, a former army general, and endorsed his bid to oust incumbent Mahinda Rajapakse. more..

Sri Lanka's tricky choice

Jan 25 (TA) A Sri Lankan asylum-seeker aboard the boat Kevin Rudd asked Indonesia to intercept on its way to Christmas Island last year is set to have a leg amputated unless he receives immediate surgery in Australia, doctors have warned. And a heavily pregnant woman on board the wooden boat tied up at the Javanese port of Merak for the past 100 days has written to the Prime Minister's wife, Therese Rein, pleading that she use her "God-gifted power" to prevent her and more..

Reflections on the map of my country

Jan 25 (LG) A few years ago my daughter, then just five, made a random observation: ‘langak venakal mama hithuwe ratak kiyanne toy ekak kiyala’ (until recently, I thought ‘a country’ was a toy). This was in the year 2006. The month was October. I wrote a piece for The Nation newspaper titled, ‘A country is a toy, but that’s alright’ (External Link), in which I mentioned that I didn’t have the heart to tell her that she had been right all along. more..

Sri Lanka's tricky choice

Jan 25 (TA) Sarath Fonseka, the man who would be Sri Lanka's next president, set audacious new heights in election campaigning last week when he posed bare-chested in a full-page ad to reveal the scars of a 2006 Tamil Tiger assassination attempt. In a tight election race between two men who both claim to be war heroes - but accuse each other of war crimes - the point seemed to be that only one of the candidates had more..

Sri Lanka: Elections without hope

Jan 25 (LG) As the incumbent president Mahinda Rajapaksa and common opposition candidate retired General Sarath Fonseka ends their campaigning with hopes of occupation of the high office of the President in a few days from now, it would be worthwhile to introspect expectations from victory of the respective candidates. Given proliferation of violence and politics of dissension and hate, the campaign has been as bloody as more..

Issues of concern to Tamils in the forthcoming Presidential elections

Jan 25 (LG) We are appreciative and thankful for your successful effort to end the civil war and the menace of terrorism. However, the national wounds have yet not started to heal as they should have and the national divide yet remains to be bridged, despite your efforts. While the majority Sinhala opinion favours stretching a hand of friendship and reconciliation to the Tamils, the Tamil people yet remain wary. more..

Sri Lanka refugees living in limbo

Jan 25 (AJ) As Sri Lanka prepares for its first presidential election since the end of the civil war, around 100,000 ethnic Tamils are still being held in refugee camps in the north of the country. The incumbent president, Mahinda Rajapaksa, is expected to face a strong challenge from the retired army general, Sarath Fonseka. One of the big election issues has been the treatment of the minority Tamils, more..

Haste to conclude the war had a political motive rather than a military or strategic one

Jan 25 (TC) Over and over, one reads of the patriotic soldiers who laid down their lives fighting the Tigers. This mantra is repeated and repetition, as we know, transforms a statement into fact. Over time, it becomes truth, is no longer examined but handed down as axiomatic. This is not to deny that the army displayed courage. This is not to deny that many lost their lives on the battlefield, succumbed to their wounds or more..

Who won the war ; the military leadership or the political leadership?

Jan 25 (TC) I need not tell the readers that this debatable question that was born after 19th May 2009 has been the centre point of the present presidential election in Sri Lanka. The president who turns each and every event to his political advantage - even if a child cries or laughs, in other words, politicize, was the chief claimant of war victory while the military commander who physically conducted the war is his challenger or competitor. more..

Sri Lanka's election gamble

Jan 25 (AJ) The campaigning is now officially over in Sri Lanka. Election regulations stipulate a so-called quiet time before Tuesday's election in which voters can ponder their choice free of political distraction. But in this supposed period of silence, the debate continues to be intense. The election has caught the imagination of the country’s people like few have before. more..

Who won the war ; the military leadership or the political leadership?

Jan 25 (TC) I need not tell the readers that this debatable question that was born after 19th May 2009 has been the centre point of the present presidential election in Sri Lanka. The president who turns each and every event to his political advantage - even if a child cries or laughs, in other words, politicize, was the chief claimant of war victory while the military commander who physically conducted the war is his challenger or competitor. more..

Cricket: Sri Lanka planning visit by India

Jan 25 (CI) Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) is looking to host India for three Tests and an ODI tri-series, with New Zealand the third team, later this year to help fill the void that exists in their international calender for 2010. Nishantha Ranatunga, the SLC secretary, has confirmed the home board is in talks with its counterparts over the tour, which will likely take place in July and August. more..

Tamils voting in large numbers could tilt the balance

Jan 25 (HT) During their campaign both President Mahinda Rajapaksa and retired army general Sarath Fonseka made a point to pay their obeisance to the Hindu God of War Kandasaamy at the ancient Nallur temple in Jaffna, the seat of Tamil culture and identity in Sri Lanka. The symbolism is hard to miss. Rajapaksa, 65, and Fonseka, 60, know the importance of the Tamil vote in the bitterly fought more..

U-19 Cricket: Rajapaksa, Jayampathi down South Africa

Jan 25 (CI) Not for the first time in a global tournament, a South African side crashed out in the quarter-finals. South Africa were never in with a shot after Sri Lanka set them a target of 294, and their chase stuttered and stumbled to a dismal 145 against a tidy attack led by four-wicket hero Charith Jayampathi. This was a massive win for Sri Lanka, who continued to play aggressive cricket, and they will head into their semi-final clash against Australia on Wednesday an eager bunch. more..

Tamils have a vote, but little choice

Jan 25 (SMH) Tens of thousands of Tamils in northern Sri Lanka are about to vote in national elections for the first time in decades tomorrow, but many are unhappy about the choices on offer in the presidential poll. The long civil war between the Tamil Tiger separatists and the army has made it impossible for many in the Tamil-dominated north to participate in elections since the 1980s. The military defeat of the Tigers last May has forced Tamil political parties to reassess the way they engage in politics. more..

Post LTTE, bitterly divided Sri Lanka set to elect president

Jan 25 (IANS) A viciously split Sri Lanka goes to the polls Tuesday to elect a president in the first nationwide election after the decisive rout of the Tamil Tigers. Across the length and breadth of the island, Sri Lanka seems to be at war with itself as two popular men credited for crushing the Tigers battle it out to capture the all-powerful presidency. President Mahinda Rajapaksa and former army chief Sarath Fonseka, both from the majority Sinhalese community, more..

Policies matter little in Sri Lanka's bitterly fought election

Jan 25 (Xinhua) Sri Lankan elections are not entirely fought on the basis of manifestos or policy guidelines of major parties and candidates. The current presidential election, scheduled to be held on Tuesday, is no different. The two main candidates -- incumbent President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his main challenger former Army Commander General Sarath Fonseka delayed issuing their policy statements until early January from the official announcement on the election in late November. more..

Millions spent on election propaganda

Jan 25 (BBC) Main presidential candidates in Sri Lanka have spent an staggering Rs. 450 million only for propaganda purposes, an anti-corruption watchdog has said. The Programme for Protection of Public Resources (PPPR) of Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL) says that both main candidates have so far failed to reveal the source of huge money spent for propaganda campaigns. “The huge sums of money spent on the political party campaigning raises concern about more..

Profile: General Sarath Fonseka

Jan 25 (AJ) General Sarath Fonseka, Sri Lanka's former army commander who was feted as the architect of the military's victory over the separatist LTTE, is now accused by the government of betraying the troops and his country. The charges levelled by senior government ministers are the latest development in an increasingly bitter and personal battle between Fonseka and his former commander in chief, Mahinda Rajapaksa, more..

Profile: Mahinda Rajapaksa

Jan 25 (AJ) President Mahinda Rajapaksa oversaw the crushing military defeat of the LTTE in May 2009. The victory was a crowning moment for Rajapaksa, who came to power in 2005 pledging to defeat terrorism and bring peace to the country. He had the support of pro-Sinhalese, nationalist political parties. Having made some token gestures toward the peace process, more..

Mahinda's insolent message to Tamil speaking people

Jan 25 (DBS) "Lakbima News" editor Rajpal Abeynayake asks President Rajapakse a serious question "What is the message you give Tamil speaking people"?. Here is Mahinda's Insolent answer - "For those who speak Tamil ..(I say..) , now I too speak Tamil. So there is no problem at all". Former President Chandrika Kumaratunga pledged her support to Gen.Sarath Fonseka after a discussion with him at her residence in Horagolla. more..

A desperate Mahinda hires prostitutes to sling mud

Jan 25 (LT) Facing an imminent defeat at the polls, Mahinda’s bag of tricks seems to be running out of rabbits to pull out. It is reported that the latest trick is a cheap one involving a prostitute that is due to air on the state TV tomorrow night (25th), confirms the Media Unit of the Common Candidate, General Sarath Fonseka in a letter addressed to the Elections Commissioner. The programme is being edited in the Rupavahini studios and will be ready to air at around 8.30 pm tomorrow night. more..

Party leaders call upon everyone to strive for a free & fair election

Jan 25 (LT) Leaders of all political parties that support apolitical Common Candidate Gen. Sarath Fonseka appealed to all who cherish democracy to dedicate themselves for a free and just election as Mahinda Rajapakse regime, enraged by the certain defeat it is confronted with, is carrying out election violence and violating election regulations. more..

Sri Lanka war victors set for poll battle

Jan 25 (FT) At the Centre for Monitoring Election Violence in Colombo, Sri Lanka’s capital, a man approaches the desk of Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, the organisation’s co-convenor. “We’ve got another one,” he says. The body of an activist with a pro-government Tamil party in Sri Lanka’s east has turned up in a river after he was allegedly murdered by workers from a rival political group. The incident brings to six the estimated number killed ahead of more..

Calls for a peaceful poll

Jan 25 (LG) As the case has been in recent years when elections are held, business chambers in Sri Lanka this week issued a plea for a free and fair Presidential election saying violence was continuing to dominate this election too. “Violence and confrontation between, particularly, supporters of the two main candidates are progressively and alarmingly increasing and the flouting of elections laws is increasingly being reported,” more..

'Mahinda Rajapaksa gave money to LTTE'

Jan 25 (LG) National organizer of the SLFP Mahajana Wing Tiran Alles has claimed that Basil Rajapaksa had personally handed over, at his office, Rs. 180 million to the then LTTE financial controller Emil Kanthan to ensure that the people of the north boycotted the 2005 presidential election. That deal had taken place at the request of the then presidential candidate Mahinda Rajapaksa, Mr. Alles has alleged. more..

After LTTE rout, fate of new Lanka President in Tamil hands

Jan 25 (TOI) When the Tamil Tigers were defeated last May, there was widespread pessimism that hopes of a just solution had vanished. As he won election after election, local and provincial, President Mahinda Rajapaksa appeared invincible, riding on the image of a man who had unified the country by recovering large swathes of territory from LTTE rule and ended the “terrorist problem” once for all. more..

Sri Lankan presidential election sparks fears of rising violence

Jan 25 (Guardian) Sri Lanka will on Tuesday hold its first presidential elections since the defeat of the Tamil Tigers, amid allegations that the ruling party is planning to stir up violence in a desperate attempt to cling on to power. The increasingly bitter election campaign came to an end this weekend with final rallies for the two main candidates, President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Sarath Fonseka, the former head of the army. more..

Opposition has lost the game, says SLFP

Jan 25 (Hindu) With one day to go for one of the most intensely fought Sri Lankan presidential elections, the opposition backing the candidature of commander-turned-politician Sarath Fonseka on Sunday charged President Mahinda Rajapaksa with preparing the stage for a coup to prevent peaceful transition of power. However, the government was quick to denounce the allegation as a sure sign that more..

January 26, 2010 : A Decisive Moment In Sri Lanka’s Destiny

Jan 25 (TC) A little more than a week remains for the presidential elections. By then no more brickbats will be left to be aimed by the candidates or at the candidates. That in any case is a relief as we have been at the receiving end of hearing this onslaught day in day out. For over a month, the main discussion or main attacking points have been on the shifting role of leaders as traitors or patriots, government record of poor governance, the rationale for political alliances, more..

Nationalism and liberalism have coexisted and are not always mutually exclusive

Jan 25 (TC) It is indeed refreshing to see a political mediation that transcends the immediate political wish to support the “victorious camp,” and insist on discussing the crucial political implications of what SF and MR represent as presidential candidates. The article titled “Liberalism Poses Severe Challenge to Sinhala Nationalism at 2010 Presidential Election” by Kathika marks the dichotomous relationship between nationalism and liberalism and more..

Voters gear up for Sri Lanka's first post-war presidential poll

Jan 25 (CNN) Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa will seek a fresh mandate in the upcoming elections in the South Asian nation, but he is facing a tough challenge from his one-time confidante and former Army commander, retired General Sarath Fonseka. More than 14 million Sri Lankans will head to the polls on Tuesday to elect the island nation's sixth executive president to a six-year term. more..

A minority view of the Sri Lankan elections

Jan 25 (HP) On May 19, 2009 the Government of Sri Lanka announced that it had defeated the LTTE, ending one of the longest civil wars in South Asia. The legitimacy of this victory for President Mahinda Rajapaksa could only be measured in the ability of the ethnic Sinhalese majority to address the political grievances of the ethnic Tamil minority (300,000 of whom were isolated in internment camps). more..

Of citizens, citizenship and insurance options

Jan 25 (LG) Tomorrow we will as a nation exercise our most fundamental democratic right, that of casting a vote to elect someone to power. The day after tomorrow we will revert to nonentities, relatively speaking. Our power will increase from now until the polls close on Tuesday. From 4 pm, January 26, 2010, it will decline until the next major election is announced. This is the reality of ‘participatory democracy’; more..

General puts up a fight in Sri Lanka’s election

Jan 25 (NYT) When President Mahinda Rajapaksa announced late last year that he would move the presidential election up by two years and seek a fresh mandate from Sri Lanka’s war-weary electorate, he seemed like a shoo-in. Having vanquished the fearsome Tamil Tiger insurgency in May with a no-holds-barred assault on its last stronghold, Mr. Rajapaksa enjoyed widespread adulation. more..

Cast your vote, defeat violence in 2010 presidential election

Jan 25 (LG) On 26th January, 2010 Sri Lankans vote in the first presidential election after a 30 year war comes to an end. The decision they take will decide the future of the peaceful society in which their children and grandchildren live. Whatever the outcome, the majority view will help the next president to win widespread support if the election outcome is a true reflection of the people’s judgment. more..

“Vote to empower parliament” - Jaffna University Student Union

Jan 25 (TN) “We extend our full support to change the presidential system of governance by voting in the presidential election,“ Jaffna University Student Union (JUSU) said in a press report released Sunday titled ‘Let’s vote to empower parliament’, sources in Jaffna said. “We do not have any hope in either of the principal candidates in this election but taking the past experience into consideration and on realizing the value of the lives lost, more..

Sri Lanka Vote Hinges on Tamils

Jan 25 (WSJ) This country's presidential vote Tuesday pits two chief architects of the country's defeat last year of Tamil separatists, underscoring the political divide that remains after 26 years of ethnic strife. The leading contenders among the field's 22 candidates are President Mahinda Rajapaksa, elected five years ago on a promise to crush the Tigers, and more..

Yet another candidate withdraws

Jan 25 (CT) The number of candidates running for president has reduced further, when independent contender Aithurus M. Illias announcing that he was withdrawing in support of Gen. Sarath Fonseka. With his withdrawal, only 19 candidates remain from an original 22 candidates. Mr. Illias is a former SLMC MP for Jaffna. Previously, two Buddhist monks pulled out of the election more..