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Star-gazers sway Sri Lanka election

Jan 26 (AFP) While the end of Sri Lanka's 37-year civil war has shaped this Tuesday's presidential election, celestial alignments and astrologers have exerted huge influence on the contest behind the scenes. The decision to call the snap poll, the exact date of voting and the emergence of opposition candidate Sarath Fonseka can all be traced to the star-gazers who hold enormous sway in political circles. more..

Stage set for Sri Lanka's historic presidential vote

Jan 26 (Reuters) A quarter of a million election officials fanned out across Sri Lanka Monday on the eve of an historic presidential poll pitting two victors in the island's 25-year war against each other. More than 14 million people are registered to cast their ballots Tuesday in the first national poll in the Indian Ocean island country since the government declared victory over the LTTE separatists in May. more..

A bizarre polling card: Evidence of a flawed election?

Jan 26 (GV) We feature this video captured by Groundviews today without any additional comment because it is abundantly clear which candidate the sign stapled on to this anomalous polling card refers to. It is also very clear what such an indication outrageously and completely illegally attached to a polling card suggests to the voter. As this voter asks in the video, who has the power to commit such a gross violation of election laws? more..

Stage set for elections in Sri Lanka tomorrow

Jan 26 (Hindu) As over 14 million voters in a nation of nearly 21 million people wait for the polling booths to open at 7 a.m. on Tuesday to elect the sixth Sri Lankan President, the government responding to the apprehensions of the opposition on possible violence and rigging said that it was committed to ensure a free and fair poll. The polling ends at 4 p.m. and the results are expected to be out by Wednesday morning. more..

Sri Lanka tense ahead of election

Jan 26 (BBC) Sri Lanka is preparing to elect a new president after a bitter campaign between current leader President Rajapaksa and the former army chief General Sarath Fonseka. They are both closely associated with the government's defeat of the Tamil Tigers last May but the pair fell out bitterly soon after. Election clashes have so far left four dead and hundreds wounded. Charles Haviland reports. more..

Postcard from Colombo: Minorities could decide tight race

Jan 26 (Mizzima) Shortly after I installed my Sri Lanka SIM card, my phone beeped with a short but alarming message in the inbox. The message carried the countrywide survey results compiled by the University of Kelaniya for the forthcoming election – projecting current President Rajapaksa at 60 percent with opposition candidate Fonseka polling a distant 40 percent. After receiving the SMS I asked journalist friends attending a press conference at more..

Sri Lankans caught by election fatigue

Jan 26 (Xinhua) Elections happen far too often in Sri Lanka leading to almost election fatigue. An election has happened in the island nation every year between 2005 and 2010, barring 2007. The frequency of elections have discouraged bored voters from coming to polls with turnout dropping below par. Tuesday's presidential election comes two years early. The incumbent president Mahinda Rajapaksa opting more..

Former partners in war now battle in politics

Jan 26 (CSM) Voters go to the polls Tuesday in Sri Lanka to elect a president, eight months after the defeat of Tamil Tiger rebels whose bloody struggle had defined a generation. Incumbent President Mahindra Rajapaksa called elections two years ahead of schedule, seeking to capitalize on the historic military victory. But that strategy came unstuck when Army Chief Gen. Sarath Fonseka emerged as his prime challenger at the head of an unlikely coalition of more..

Distinguishing features of SL Presidential poll

Jan 26 (EB) The sixth Presidential election in Sri Lanka which is to be held on Tuesday, will go down in history as having had a number of distinguishing features. * It is the first election to be held after the military elimination of the LTTE and its entire leadership, including the Supremo, Velupillai Prabhakaran. This is signficant, in as much as, in the past, the LTTE controlled the voting behaviour of the Tamils of the Northern and Eastern provinces. more..

Debrief News - 25. 01. 2010

Religious groups pray for peaceful election

Jan 26 (UCAN) Religious leaders have joined in prayer for a peaceful presidential election tomorrow, Jan. 26, after a campaign that was marred by escalating violence. More than 900 cases of violence including five deaths have been reported since the election was announced in November. One person was killed when gunmen attacked a bus carrying opposition supporters on Jan. 13, the first apparent death in the political campaigning. more..

Sri Lanka export-promotion delegation to visit Croatia

Jan 26 (CT) The Sri Lanka Export Development Board will lead a business delegation to Central European countries Austria, Croatia, Slovakia and the Czech Republic from the 15 to 19 February 2010, it was announced today (Mon). The delegation will be comprised of experienced exporters ranging from the agro-food, aqua-culture, garment and handloom-product to the IT & BPO, chemical, and power and engineering sectors. more..

Concern over missing journalist

Jan 26 (BBC) International media watchdogs have urged Sri Lanka authorities to do more to find a missing journalist Prageeth Ekneligoda, who is missing since Sunday. Paris based Reporters Without Borders (RSF) say the political analyst at LankaeNews website who is also a veteran cartoonist has left work late Sunday night but is yet to return home. more..

Attack on Ambalangoda temple is reflection of Rajapakse’s rage

Jan 26 (LT) Sri Sugathabimbarama Viharaya at Ambalangoda, where apolitical Common Candidate Gen. Sarath Fonseka had his initial religious education, was attacked yesterday (24th) night by a gang of thugs of UPFA candidate Mahinda Rajapakse and had destroyed property belonging to the temple. The supporters of Mahinda Rajapakse who had broken into the temple at about 12.50 last night had scolded Ven. Ambalangoda Vijithedhamma Thero, more..

Twenty ex-commandos arrested

Jan 26 (DM) A special Army team and the Gokarelle police have arrested 20 ex-commandos and a colonel under suspicion of planning election violence, Army Spokesperson Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara told Daily Mirror online. Police media spokesman SSP I.M Karunaratne said that after questioning the suspects it has been further reveled that similar groups are spread across the country. The questioning was carried out by DIG Crimes Anura Senanayake and more..

Media Conference for CMEV

London's Sri Lankans divided over presidential polls

Jan 26 (BBC) As voters in Sri Lanka prepare for the presidential elections on Tuesday, the expatriate community in London is divided not only on ethnic lines but also whether to encourage their relatives to vote. It is estimated that there are nearly 200,000 Sri Lankans living in UK. While the minority community back at home, Tamils, form the majority among the diaspora, Sinhala and Muslims also form considerable numbers. more..

Ballot boxes dispatched to polling booths in Jaffna

Jan 26 (TN) Ballot boxes for the Tuesday presidential election are being sent with police and Sri Lanka Army escorts from the District Secretariats in Jaffna and Vavuniyaa in the presence of election officers to the polling booths from Monday morning. Meanwhile, government has declared Wednesday, the day following presidential election day, as public holiday and countrywide curfew is expected to be imposed on Thursday, according to instructions given to police authorities, more..

'We are not dull-witted to go behind Mahinda Rajapakse'

Jan 26 (LT) The rumours being spread that he had joined the government are totally false says Member of the Political Bureau of the JVP K.D. Lal Kanthe adding that at the moment he is engaged in exercises to prevent government’s atrocities against the public. He said they are taking measures to stop atrocities have been unleashed to stop the biggest change that is taking place in the country. more..

'Army deserters may attempt to mar presidential poll'

Jan 26 (PTI) On the eve of crucial presidential poll, Sri Lankan government today claimed that up to 800 army deserters may attempt to spark violence during the election, which is expected to witness a tough contest between incumbent Mahinda Rajapaksa and opposition candidate Sarath Fonseka. Foreign minister Rohitha Bogollagama said that over 68,000 police personnel and 25 army battalions have been put on alert for conduct of a peaceful presidential election. more..

Sri Lanka’s Colour Revolution?

Jan 26 (LG) Various interest groups and individuals have become united for one purpose – not so much to make Sarath Fonseka win but to oust Mahinda Rajapakse. Is the scenario being prepared in Sri Lanka for what has come to be known as “a colour revolution”. First, let us consider the meaning of the term. Secondly, the evens that led up to General Sarath Fonseka nominating himself as a candidate for the Executive Presidency an office that more..

Vote without fear, says Rajapaksa

Jan 26 (Hindu) Hours before the polling begins for the election to the most powerful office in the island nation, President and contender for second term Mahinda Rajapaksa on Tuesday said he had given instructions to the authorities for maintenance of law and order and urged the people to vote without any fear. Mr. Rajapaksa’s message came a day after the opposition parties backing the candidature of his main opponent, more..

Sri Lanka assumes Chairmanship of Asia Pacific Group in UNESCO

Jan 26 (AT) Sri Lanka was unanimously elected to assume the Chairmanship of the Asia Pacific (ASPAC) Group of the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) at the 1st Plenary Meeting of the Grouping today (25th January 2010). Having served as Vice Chair and Secretary of the ASPAC Bureau in previous years, Sri Lanka assumed the Chair for the year 2010 from Japan. more..

Sri Lanka: The battle after the war

Jan 26 (TO) Can an election endanger democracy? Yes, if one takes seriously the alarm sounded by the main opposition candidate in Sri Lanka's forthcoming presidential election. Gen. Sarath Fonseka, former chief of the island-state's armed forces, has warned of the possibility of a military coup after the election scheduled for January 26. The general's spokesman voiced the fear that President Mahinda Rajapaksa, would use the military to remain in power if he was defeated in the polls. more..

Close finish expected in Sri Lanka’s presidential poll

Jan 26 (National) More than 14 million Sri Lankans are expected go to the polls today to elect a leader. The incumbent president, Mahinda Rajapaksa, and former army commander Gen Sarath Fonseka, the two main candidates, look set for a close finish in a campaign that has been marred by violence and widespread violations of electoral laws. A slew of allegations have been hurled by both camps, more..

Sri Lanka tense on eve of presidential election

Jan 26 (VoA) Sri Lanka's government and the political opposition are trading accusations their respective rivals are preparing to use force to overturn the results of Tuesday's presidential election. Independent monitors, meanwhile, contend, the electoral process has broken down. Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama is warning that up to 800 army deserters, most allied with former general and opposition candidate Sarath Fonseka, are poised to disrupt the presidential election. more..

Challenges after the elections

Jan 26 (NPC) Today Sri Lankans will go to the polls to decide a race that has become too close to call. The election itself has been the most bitterly contested one in recent times. It has also seen the most one-sided utilization of state machinery in favour of the ruling party candidate in a long time. Religious leaders have felt impelled to issue calls for the government to implement the law with regard to the need for balanced and fair coverage more..

Mixed fortunes for Sri Lanka Tamils

2010 presidential poll: Oh! what a free and fair election?

Jan 26 (TC) **The Colombo Magistrates court today refused to grant a search warrant requested by the Criminal Investigations Department to search UNP leader Ranil Wickremesighe’s office and the Biyagama press of Wijeya Newspapers, publishers of Daily Mirror. 25/01/2010. **Common opposition candidate General Sarath Fonseka yesterday called on former President Chandrika Kumaratunga at the Bandaranaike ancestral home in Horagolla Nittambuwa. 25/01/2010 more..

Sri Lanka ‘Stability’ to help stocks extend rally, NDB says

Jan 26 (BN) Sri Lankan stocks are poised to extend last year’s record gain no matter who wins today’s election, as the end of the 26-year civil war and rising corporate profits bolster the economy, according to the nation’s largest non-government investment fund. NDB Aviva Wealth Management Ltd. predicts the Colombo All- Share Index will advance 25 percent this year after a gain of 125 percent in 2009, more..

No matter who wins, India's stake in Lanka will go up

Jan 26 (TOI) A closely fought election in Sri Lanka on Tuesday will be watched closely in India, but notwithstanding the result, India's investment in its island neighbour will only increase. Working quietly after coming under criticism, India is now on its way to outgunning Chinese presence in Sri Lanka. The election -- the first after the war with LTTE ended -- was a shoo-in for President Mahinda Rajapakse until more..

Blasts heard in Sri Lanka's north ahead of key vote: monitor

Jan 26 (AFP) At least four explosions were heard in Sri Lanka's ethnic Tamil heartland of Jaffna ahead of Tuesday's crucial presidential vote, an independent election monitor told AFP. Residents in the northern peninsula counted the pre-dawn blasts, but the source of the explosions was unclear, said Sunil Jayasekara, a monitor for the Centre for Monitoring Election Violence. more..

Housemaids’ issue heats up

Jan 26 (AN) There is a move on the part of Saudi authorities to stop housemaids coming from certain countries. “We are serious in imposing a ban on the import of housemaids from Sri Lanka, Nepal, Cambodia and Vietnam,” said Ali Al-Quraishi, vice president of the local Labor Recruitment Committee. “The main reason for considering such a ban is that the labor recruiters in those countries are not qualified enough to supply housemaids that suit the local culture and tradition. more..

President Mahinda fly to Delhi

Jan 26 (LG) According to information reaching through reliable sources confirm, President Mahinda Rajapakse is now flying to Delhi in a special jet. It is unclear why the President has decided to fly to Delhi suddenly without engaging in the election process. One source confirmed that the President made arrangements with the Indian political leadership to have an urgent meeting as more..

India keeps eye on Lankan poll

Jan 26 (ET) India is closely watching the Sri Lankan presidential election which is set to take place on Tuesday and is the first election since the defeat of the LTTE. New Delhi’s hope at this stage is that once the elections results are out both parties will accept the verdict of the people. The two main candidates — Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa and former Army chief Sarath Fonseka — have been engaged in a bitter campaign making it a “tricky situation." more..

Q&A: Post-war Sri Lanka

Jan 26 (BBC) In May 2009 Sri Lanka's government declared victory in its 26-year war with Tamil Tiger rebels who were fighting for a separate homeland. It was one of the world's bloodiest and longest-running civil wars and it left parts of the island devastated and displaced hundreds of thousands of people. On the eve of the first presidential election since the war ended, BBC News examines what is at stake for the people of Sri Lanka. more..

TV actress 'kidnapped' for supporting Sri Lanka’s presidential rival

Jan 26 (Times) Soap opera writers are used to moulding scripts to suit their stars’ erratic personal lives — a pregnancy here, a breakdown there, even the odd untimely death. But writers at the state-run ITN in Sri Lanka faced an unusual challenge when the lead actress in its flagship soap opera was suddenly ditched after declaring support for Sarath Fonseka, the former army chief who is running in today’s presidential election. more..

Bomb blasts marr Sri Lanka elections as polls open

Jan 26 (Times) Voting has begun in a tense Sri Lanka amid heightened fears of election violence. Several bombs exploded in the Tamil heartland of Jaffna even before polls opened for the crucial presidential election between Sarath Fonseka, the former army chief who led the campaign against the Tigers and President Mahinda Rajapaksa. At least two bombs went off outside the home of a ruling party activist in the Jaffna peninsula, more..

Three poems for Sri Lanka on presidential elections day

Jan 26 (DBS) January 26th 2010 is upon us! It’s the Day of decision for Sri Lanka as it faces yet another election to either re-elect or elect the most powerful person in the Country. My thoughts and prayers with all Sri Lankans as they cast their votes in what is perhaps the most crucial, controversial and colourful presidential poll the Country has seen. I took some time off from the hustle and bustle of daily life to ponder over this election. more..

Polling in presidential election opens in Sri Lanka

Jan 26 (DPA) Polling in Sri Lanka’s presidential elections opened on Tuesday morning in the first national election to be held in the country since the defeat of the Tamil rebels of the LTTE in May. Voting began at 7:00 am (0130 GMT) in some 11,000 polling stations with 14 million people registered to vote. Polling is to end at 4:00 pm (1030 GMT). more..

An attempt to breach peace while election is being held peacefully

Jan 26 (MoD) The government and security forces are alert on attempts being made by various elements to sabotage the peaceful presidential election said Mr. Lakshman Hulugalle Director General Media Center for National Security. The Presidential Election to elect the sixth executive president is being held peacefully today. But two incidents in which breaching the peace have been reported last night and this morning. more..

'Democratic elections, a mockery in Sri Lanka'

Jan 26 (TN) When there is an ongoing genocide and thousands of Tamil speaking people are still kept in concentration camps, when people are denied freedom of movement, when arrests, disappearances and rapes are being reported on a daily basis, when independent media is not allowed to visit and document the plight of the Tamil people, and when the country is behind an iron curtain, holding elections is a mockery, said D. Pandian, more..

Republic day of India today

Jan 26 (LP) India celebrates the 61st Republic day today (26). Issuing a message on the Republic day of India, the High Commissioner of India to Sri Lanka Ashok K Kantha extended his greetings to his fellow citizens of India and to the People and the Government of Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. India and Sri Lanka and India share a dynamic and multifaceted relationship that has stood the test of time. more..

Terror situation in Jaffna

Jan 26 (LT) A terror situation is being created in several areas in Jaffna by goons of the government say reports. A bomb has exploded in Pallaly but the damage from the explosion is not known yet. Tyres have been burnt on roads near Pallaly obstructing Tamil and Muslim voters from going to polling booths say these reports. The army had initially been deployed to bring the situation under control but due to orders from above they had been withdrawn. more..

Govt. deploys police to deny opposition to monitor polling in North

Jan 26 (LT) JVP MP Vijithe Herath, presidential candidate Chanda Sugathasiri, officials of NEM HIR and a group of election monitors going for election monitoring in the North are being forcefully detained by Vavuniya Police says our reporter. The bus travelled by the group was stopped by Vavuniya Police and they were refused to proceed further. An election monitor speaking to ‘Lankatruth’ said when it has been already announced that A-9 road was opened to anyone, more..

Govt. creates false news to hide its attempt of mass scale rigging – JVP media

Jan 26 (LT) The government, to hide its plunder of votes in the North, is creating false reports but without deceived by the petty vile attempts by the government all should rally to protect the democratic rights of the masses, specially the right of the people in the North to vote, states a communiqué issued by the media unit of the JVP. more..

Security barrier at KIA removed

Jan 26 (LT) It is reported that the security barrier at the entrance to Katunayake International Airport maintained until yesterday has been removed. All who enter or exit KIA were checked at this barrier and it was possible to know all those who leave the country. All those who pass through this barrier, their identity cards and their vehicles were closely checked at the barrier. However, KIA authorities have suddenly taken measures to remove the barrier and more..

SB’s sibling in a devil’s act at Hamguranketha

Jan 26 (LT) Several incidents of terrorizing voters and polling agents being driven away have been reported from Hanguranketha. The gangs of thugs who are involved in these violent acts are lead by Saliya Dissanayake, the brother of S.B. Dissanayake say reports. He had directed bands of armed thugs to break into polling booths and drive away polling agents. Meanwhile, a gang of thugs lead by a minister of the government has carried out violence and more..

Military Police hide buses deployed by EC for the displaced voters

Jan 26 (LT) As more than 25,000 people living in IDP camps have to cast their votes at centers in areas such as Manik farm and Killinochchithe Commissioner of elections had directed the CTB to provide them with transport facilities by deploying several buses. As such, three buses left the camp for the displaced at Vavuniya today morning but the three buses and all other buses deployed to bring in voters from camps have been detained by more..

Home a big issue for Lankan Tamil, not polls

Jan 26 (IBN) Sri Lanka votes on Tuesday in the first elections held after LTTE chief V Prabhakaran's death and Tamil votes could be the deciding factor. In a camp for the IDP in Northern Sri Lanka, people who have lost everything they had in the battle between the LTTE and the Sri Lankan Army have been housed. Eight months after the war ended and Colombo got ready to decide between former Sri Lankan Army chief General Sarath Fonseka and President Mahinda Rajapaksa, more..