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The runner up

Jan 29 (DM) If 2010 election had seen a powerful victor and a bad loser it has also seen a runner-up. A man who has proven himself by not running the race. The 48.43% that Ranil Wickremesinghe polled at the 2005 election without the North and East Tamil vote as opposed to 40% of Sarath Fonseka who largely depended on that segment of vote at Tuesday’s polls will remain a strong reminder that irrespective of criticism there’s hardly any match for Ranil Wickremesinghe in the opposition. more..

MR to seek SC opinion

Jan 29 (DM) President Mahinda Rajapaksa said yesterday that he would seek the Supreme Court opinion as to when his second term should commence. “Going by the Supreme Court judgment on the second term of President Chandrika Kumaratunga it was my opinion as well as the opinion of some of those whom I consulted that the second term should begin in December this year,” President Rajapaksa told media heads at a meeting at Temple Tress yesterday. more..

I did not plan a coup: Fonseka

Jan 29 (DM) Opposition Common Candidate General Sarath Fonseka yesterday said he would contest the upcoming parliamentary election probably under the swan symbol. “I must uphold my promises to the people of bringing a believable change. The people voted for me and I have won this election, although the results have been distorted,” General Fonseka told the media last evening. more..

'Sangha will thwart any conspiracy'

Jan 29 (DN) The Maha Sangha will rise against any attempt to harm the country using foreign forces using the votes obtained by Sarath Fonseka and TNA Leader R. Sampanthan at the Presidential election in the North and East, Ven. Uduwe Dhammaloka Thera said. Ven Dhammaloka Thera said it is reported that Fonseka is canvassing the international community that the Presidential election was not free and fair. more..

Swiss journalist told to leave Sri Lanka

Jan 29 (SI) The Sri Lankan government has withdrawn the visa of a Swiss radio correspondent and ordered her to leave the country by February 1. Karin Wenger, who is based in the Indian capital, New Delhi, said on Friday that the Sri Lankan immigration service had cancelled her accreditation, which was originally valid until February 17. A spokesman for the radio said no reasons had been given for the expulsion. more..

‘General at Cinnamon Lake Hotel fed International media with wrong facts’

Jan 29 (Island) Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe, at a special media conference held in Colombo on Thursday, said that Presidential candidate Sarath Fonseka had made a statement to international media that he was being prevented from leaving the Cinnamon Lake hotel. The area concerned was a high security zone and the government had deployed a strong security unit. more..

'There was a plot to assassinate me'

Jan 29 (GDI) President Mahinda Rajapaksa has warned that the country could have faced a dangerous situation if the results of the Presidential Election was overturned illegally. He said this was the first time in the country’s history that there was such a high level of political mud-slinging. The President made this statement while addressing a meeting with heads of media institutions. more..

Sri Lankans start hunger strike on Christmas Island

Jan 29 (TA) Asylum-seekers protesting inside the Christmas Island detention centre say they will remain on hunger strike until the Immigration Department guarantees to process their refugee claims faster. One Tamil detainee said the 150 to 200 people taking part in the strike, mostly Sri Lankans, had been told by Immigration officials their applications could be hindered by their actions. more..

Where now for post-election Sri Lanka?

Jan 29 (BBC) A number of factors helped sweep him to re-election victory on Tuesday: his fiery rhetoric and sure popular touch; his emphasis on his role in last year's war victory; and ordinary people's sense that their streets are simply safer than they have been for the past 30 years because of the defeat of the Tamil Tigers. Monitoring groups have expressed strong concern about the abuse of state resources in the pre-election period and about some polling-day violations. more..

The business of post-war recovery

Sri Lanka's opposition yet to decide on fighting polls jointly

Jan 29 (IE) Sri Lanka's opposition, which united to put up a joint Presidential candidate, is yet to decide on repeating the experience during the forthcoming parliamentary elections due in April this year. "We will take a decision on fighting the election jointly after the parliamentary elections are announced," the UNP General Secretary Tissa Attanayake told reporters today. more..

Fraud allegations taint Sri Lankan election

Jan 29 (Age) Voting patterns in Sri Lanka's turbulent presidential elections appear to have confirmed the destructive ethnic divisions that fuelled decades of civil war. According to the official returns, Sinhalese voters, who make up about three-quarters of the electorate, turned up in large numbers and voted overwhelmingly for the President, Mahinda Rajapaksa. Those Tamils who participated in the election mostly voted against Rajapaksa. more..

'Forget election feuds, develop country'

Jan 29 (DM) The Mahanayake of the Malwatte Chapter Most Venerable Thibbatuwawe Sri Siddhartha Sumangala Thera yesterday said that since the election was over all must forget what was said on platforms and work together to develop the country. “Now it is time to stop what was said on the political platforms. All must forget the differences and work together to develop the country,” more..

Australia says no asylum request from Fonseka

Jan 29 (AFP) Sri Lanka's defeated presidential candidate Sarath Fonseka has not sought asylum from Australia, Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said as he urged the government ensure the retired general's safety. Australian media reported that Fonseka was considering seeking temporary asylum in Australia following his defeat in Tuesday's polls, which the former army chief says were won fraudulently by more..

Sri Lankan police raid defeated candidate's office

Jan 29 (AP) Police raided the office of Sri Lanka's defeated presidential candidate Sarath Fonseka and arrested 15 of its workers Friday, his lawyer said, after he disputed this week's election result and the government alleged he was planning a coup. The government has also claimed that Fonseka, a former army chief and the opposition's main candidate in the vote, was planning to assassinate President Mahinda Rajapaksa. more..

Rights group, monitors query Sri Lankan election

Jan 29 (AFP) Poll monitors and human rights groups on Friday criticised the election that swept Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse back to power amid claims of fraud from his defeated rival. The Hong Kong-based Asian Human Rights Commission cited counting irregularities, as well as blatant misuse of state resources by Rajapakse, who comfortably won a second term in Tuesday's poll. more..

Issue of Lankan fishermen entering Indian waters taken up: Coast guard

Jan 30 (PTI) The central government has taken up with Sri Lanka the issue of illegal fishing by Lankan fishermen in Indian waters, a top Indian coast guard official said today. The number of Lankan boats being seized in Indian waters has gone up compared to 2008 with 116 boats "apprehended" last year, Rajasekhar, Commander, eastern region coast guard, said. "The Coast Guard has taken up the matter with the Centre which has in turn taken it up with Sri Lankan government," more..

Poll result shows up Sri Lanka's deep ethnic divide

Jan 30 (SMH) Voting patterns in Sri Lanka's turbulent presidential elections have underscored the destructive ethnic divisions that fuelled decades of civil war. The Sinhalese-speaking majority and Tamil-speaking minority were polar opposites in their voting choice. Sinhalese, who make up about three-quarters of the electorate, turned up in large numbers and voted overwhelmingly for the President, Mahinda Rajapaksa. more..

A principled approach necessary for constitutional reform

Jan 30 (TC) One of the themes that the common opposition made much of during the election campaign was the need to implement the 17th amendment immediately. In fact many of those without a political agenda also see this as a panacea for all ills. Sadly, in requesting the immediate appointment of the Constitutional Council, they do not take at all seriously the reasons given for not appointing it over the last few years. more..

Cariah ton gives Windies third spot

Jan 30 (CI) A responsible, unbeaten century from middle-order batsman Yannic Cariah and a strong support act from No 3 John Campbell steered West Indies to a four-wicket victory against Sri Lanka in Christchurch and secured for them the third place in the Under-19 World Cup standings. The day did not start off so well for West Indies - their decision to bowl first came unstuck in the face of a confident opening stand more..

'Sri Lanka ready for investors with polls over'

Jan 30 (LBO) State investment promotion agency is standing by to support businessmen who want to start investing now that the polls are over, its chief Dhammika Perera said. "The presidential elections are over," Perera said. "Now is the time for everyone to leave the elections behind and put their plans into operation." President Rajapaksa said Wednesday that with the presidential polls over he was ready to work for those who voted and did not vote for him. more..

EU congratulates President Mahinda Rajapaksa

Jan 30 (eGM) "The EU welcomes that the Presidential Elections in Sri Lanka, the first election of this kind for many years, took place in an overall peaceful environment. The large turn out demonstrates the wish of the Sri Lankan people to participate fully in the democratic process. The EU congratulates President Mahinda Rajapaksa on his re-election and stands ready to work with him and more..

Sri Lanka’s 'free and fair' election in doubt

Jan 30 (UPI) Sri Lanka’s election commissioner declared incumbent President Mahinda Rajapakse the winner of the Jan. 26 election for executive president. However, opposition candidate and retired army commander General Sarath Fonseka rejected the results as false due to the prevalence of violence, electoral fraud and tampering with the counting process. The commissioner, Dayananda Dishanayake, while announcing the results to the nation more..

Sri Lankan polls

Jan 30 (Dawn) President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s triumph in Tuesday’s election in Sri Lanka can only prove meaningful if he pursues a process of reconciliation with the minority Tamil community. Nearly 70 per cent of Sri Lanka’s 14 million voters turned out to vote and 57 per cent cast their ballot in favour of the incumbent president. However, with the main presidential contender crying foul and some election monitors alleging the misuse of official resources, more..

Sri Lankans eye brighter future

India to open Consulate in Jaffna

Jan 30 (PTI) With the civil war in northern Sri Lanka over, India will shortly open its Consulate in Jaffna, a significant step that will enable it to participate better in the reconstruction and rehabilitation process in the Tamil-dominated region. All issues related to opening of the Consulate have been finalised and it will be inaugurated soon, sources said here. It got a bit delayed as Sri Lanka was going through the electoral process, which is now over. more..

Indian Jesuit calls on Rajapaksa and New Delhi to resolve the plight of Tamil people

Jan 30 (AN) The Indian government must put pressure on Sri Lanka, to find a "political solution" to the Tamil question. This is the reaction of Jesuit Father Jebamalai Raja, coordinator of Ecumenical Christian Forum for Human Rights, to the victory of President Mahinda Rajapaksa in the 26 January elections. Speaking to AsiaNews he also highlights the role of New Delhi, which must "monitor the implementation" of a future agreement. more..

Police raid opposition Fonseka's office

War hero Sarath Fonseka exiled within Colombo

Jan 30 (TA) Sarath Fonseka's large security detail has been withdrawn, as has his cook. His dalmatian puppy has sat miserably in a cage in the front garden since the guard who loved him most was recalled. On the end of the former Sri Lankan army chief's dining room table, a large cake in the shape of a swan - his election symbol - sits untouched. It's yet another bitter reminder of this week's crushing election defeat more..

South Asian games kicks off

Jan 30 (DS) The 11th South Asian Games got underway with a dazzling opening ceremony at the Bangabandhu National Stadium yesterday with thousand of athletes and performers taking part in the three-and-a-half hour programme. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina declared the 12-day regional sports extravaganza open. Bangladesh had hosted the event in 1985 and 1993. The colourful opening ceremony started with the march-past led by Afghanistan and more..

The magic behind the Mahinda Rajapakse victory

Jan 30 (DBS) Presidential Stakes 2010 came to an official end when Elections Commissioner Dayananda Dissanayake announced the winner in Sri Lanka’s sixth Presidential election. Incumbent Executive President Mahinda Rajapakse registered a stunning victory by polling 6,015,934 votes(57.88%).Former Army commander retired General Sarath Fonseka, his chief challenger got 4,173,185 or 40.15% of the votes. more..

President Rajapaksa urged to halt post-election crackdown on media

Jan 30 (RSF) Two days after he was declared the winner of this week’s election, Reporters Without Borders appealed today to President Mahinda Rajapaksa to put a stop to arrests and intimidation of journalists working for privately-owned and foreign media. “This wave of post-election violence could cast a lasting stain on the start of President Rajapaksa’s second term and bodes ill for the political climate during the coming years,” more..

Journalists in Sri Lanka face intimidation, censorship

Jan 30 (CPJ) The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by reports that journalists in Sri Lanka have been subjected to government intimidation, arrests, censorship, and harassment in the aftermath of this week’s presidential election. “We are receiving reports of government retribution against journalists who sided with the opposition in the election. Given the ugly history of attacks on journalists in Sri Lanka, we call on President Mahina Rajapaksa to more..

Sri Lanka's calmer shore

Jan 30 (National) Driving north from Colombo the forest soon takes over. Glossy, colour-saturated plants press up against pretty clay-tiled bungalows and century-old yellow flame trees form a canopy over the main road. There is hardly any traffic heading for the north-east coast even though it is eight months since Sri Lankan government forces wiped out the leaders of the Tamil Tigers after 25 years of a civil war that claimed 100,000 lives. more..

What Next in Sri Lanka?

Jan 30 (KT) Sri Lanka’s President Mahinda Rajapaksa has won a re-election reaping the rewards of his military victory over the Tamil Tigers. But can this wartime president lead his country in an effort to win peace? Rajapaksa appears to have won Sri Lanka’s first post-war national election, which took place Tuesday, according to state media. The president called for early polls — his term does not expire until 2011 — hoping for an easy win after more..

Sri Lanka’s literary festival: a diary

Jan 30 (PM) I am on board for the fourth annual Galle Literary Festival, held in Sri Lanka. Until a few days ago the only sold-out events were the piss-ups, the concerts, and the sit-down dinners with famous authors—so don’t try telling the local literati that drinking isn’t where it’s at. Partial list of famous authors: Wendy Cope, Antony Beevor, Artemis Cooper, Rana Dasgupta, Gillian Slovo, Michael Frayn, Claire Tomalin, Louise Doughty, Shyam Selvadurai, more..

Explaining Mahinda’s landslide victory

Jan 30 (LG) The landslide victory of Mahinda Rajapakshe in the Sri Lankan Presidential election held on January 26, 2010 came as a surprise to Sri Lanka watchers in India and in other countries. The media reported that it would be a “close contest” between two “War Heroes”, the President, who provided the overall political leadership and the Army Chief, who was in charge of direct military operations, more..

Land grants fiasco a ‘wake-up call’ on unity

Jan 30 (UCAN) Christians came away empty-handed from a government round of land grants last year because they were divided, an ecumenical meeting was told this week. The failure to unite as one Christian voice had backfired and the land grant scheme was a wake-up call to Christian leaders, Dominican Father Jayalath Balagalla said. Buddhist, Muslim, and Hindu leaders obtained their deeds for land, but Christian Church leaders received nothing. more..

Outcome of presidential elections in Sri Lanka: Is there anything to analyse?

Jan 30 (GV) On the day after elections, I sat in the afternoon to write this amidst phone calls and text messages inquiring and informing about “strong” rumours on “result rigging” by the Rajapaksa regime. All rumours, spinning wildly in the world of the all knowing urban middle class, who had “access to inside information”, but knew nothing about of how an election is conducted and the results are released. more..

'Support President and steer country towards prosperity'

Jan 30 (GDI) Minister Johnston Fernando and former Deputy Mayor of Colombo Azath Sally urged all parties to lend their support to President Mahinda Rajapakse to steer the country towards prosperity. The president has already marked a tremendous victory over the opposition candidates. They said that Mr. Ranil Wickremasinghe is not interested in the UNP or the lot of the party members. more..

Russian Federation congratulates President Mahinda Rajapakse

Jan 30 (GDI) Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in his congratulatory message says that the policies adopted by President Mahinda Rajapaksa aimed at economic development will continue to settle social and political issues in the country. For more than 50 years, the relations between Russia and Sri Lanka have been based upon friendship and mutual respect, he observed and expresses hope that the Sri Lankan President’s forthcoming visit to Russia will more..

'Govt. to focus on improving health in rural areas'

Jan 30 (GDI) The Government will be giving priority to improving infrastructure of the Health Services in rural areas, Minister of Health Service Nimal Siripala De Silva said. The Health Ministry has provided new ambulances to 13 hospitals at a cost of 100 million rupees, he said. Accordingly, ambulances were given to several Base Hospitals including the ones in Welimada, Kandaketiya, Etampitiya, Uva Paranagama, Pothupuitiya and Girandurukotte. more..

The Importance of Jehan Perera

Jan 30 (LG) Jehan Perera remains an unrepentant advocate of the LTTE’s cause - even of LTTE post mortem. Perera seems to have undergone a make-over and become an unbiased political commentator. Consider his painless, noiseless move to The Island newspaper from The Daily Mirror. However, a discerning reader will be quick to see that though his writings have become subtler, his heart is still in the den. more..

Sri Lanka's wildlife sanctuary sites reopened for tourism

Jan 30 (Xinhua) Two of Sri Lanka's renowned wildlife sanctuary sites were reopened on Saturday after years of closure because of the conflict between the government troops and Tamil Tiger rebels, a government official said. Ananda Wijesuriya, director of the Wildlife Conservation Department said the two sites were opened to the public on Saturday were located at southeastern and eastern parts of the island. more..

US, India look forward to strengthen relations with Sri Lanka

Jan 30 (MoD) India and United States congratulated President Mahinda Rajapaksa on his victory at the recently concluded Presidential Election and expressed their desire to further strengthen relations with Sri Lanka. Indian President Pratibha Patil has congratulated President Mahinda Rajapaksa and assured him India's commitment to further deepen mutual relations with Sri Lanka. The Indian President in her message of congratulations said: more..

Another prey for 'Idi Amin' – ‘Lanka’ sealed!

Jan 30 (LT) The office of ‘Lanka Irida’ one of the most popular newspapers in Sri Lanka was sealed by officials of the CID today afternoon. The officials said they took the steps on powers they have been bestowed with under Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTC). Mr. Priyadhrshana Yapa, member of the Editorial Board of ‘Lanka Irida’ speaking regarding the decision of the government to seal the newspaper office said, more..

General dies a political death -Part Three

Jan 30 (LG) Look at those four instances; they gave rise to doubts as to what would be his line of thinking or psychology as the future CEO or President, whether he is a right thinking, balanced person with an open mind. The problem is that Sri Lanka military have ‘Spokespersons’ and ‘Media Units’. Everyone can see the level of sycophancy of many of them, not the level of proficiency or professionalism, when more..

A diary of terror - 29th of January 2010

Jan 30 (LG) Pregeeth Ekenaliyagoda, a senior journalist, political analyst and visual designer, attached to Lanka E-News, was abducted on the 24th of January and remains missing. His family and several media groups in Sri Lanka, as well as international media organizations have published the disappearance and requested inquiries. However, no credible inquiry has been undertaken by the government. more..

Maj. Gen. Ratnayake appointed Chief of Staff

Jan 30 (AD) Major General Daya Ratnayake has been appointed Chief of Staff of the Army with immediate effect, says the Army media spokesman. Prior to his new appointment, Major General Daya Ratnayake was the Director General for the Rehabilitation of former LTTE cadres. He also was the Sri Lanka Army’s media spokesman before the Eelam War 4 began. more..

EPDP supporters set fire to SLTB bus in Jaffna

Jan 30 (TN) Eelam People’s Democracy Party (EPDP) supporters set fire to a Sri Lanka Transport Board (SLTB) bus Saturday morning in a shutdown protest demanding Minister Douglas Devananda not to resign his post, sources in Jaffna said. Sri Lanka Army (SLA) soldiers forced open the few shops in Jaffna town which had been closed in fear of EPDP supporters who had called for the shutdown protest, the sources added. more..