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BASL plans MR-MS debate

Dec 22 (CT) The Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) has decided to invite the two main contenders in the Jan Presidential Election fray, Mahinda Rajapaksa and Maithripala Sirisena, for an open public debate on the independence of the Judiciary, stability of the rule of law, good governance and to eradicate corruption. The Ceylon Today exclusively reported that various groups of professionals and intellects were preparing more..

President won’t take part in debate with Sirisena: SLFP

Dec 22 (Island) The SLFP ruled out the possibility of President Rajapaksa accepting Opposition presidential candidate Maithripala Sirisena’s challenge for a live debate in the run-up to January 26, 2015 presidential poll. Top SLFP spokesman Minister Dallas Alahapperuma said that the Maithripala Sirisena’s call was nothing but a joke. The minister pointed out that Maithripala Sirisena continued to insist that he remained the General Secretary of the SLFP. more..

Maithripala camp lodges bribery complaint against Tissa

Dec 22 (Island) The Maithripala Sirisena Camp has lodged a complaint with the Bribery Commission against former UNP General Secretary and Health Minister Tissa Attanayake for accepting health ministry portfolio after the calling of presidential election. Addressing the media at the Opposition Leader's Office at Sir Marcus Fernando Mawatha, on Sunday, UNP MP Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe PC said that the UNP expected the Bribery Commission to inquire into its complaint. more..

SLMC looks to reach consensus

Dec 22 (CG) The SLMC says it is looking to reach a consensus on which candidate to support at the Presidential elections. SLMC leader Rauff Hakeem, speaking at an event in Kandy, said that while opposition Presidential candidate Maithripala Sirisena has made public his election manifesto and President Rajapaksa will release his this week, it is difficult to decide who to support simply based on a manifesto. more..

OIC tastes Deputy Minister's 'stress' tablet...

Dec 22 (CT) A tablet taken to rid stress by Deputy Minister Nishantha Muthuhettigama brought to the Wanduramba Police Station when he called on the OIC to seek the release of three suspects who attacked common presidential candidate Maithripala Sirisena's election campaign stage, had either fallen or diluted with the tea served to the OIC. The OIC had ordered for two cups of tea for him and the deputy minister. After consuming the cup of tea, the OIC had felt dizzy and police are unable to more..

Ranawaka assures unitary character for SL

Dec 22 (CT) Executive powers will not be given to the Provincial Chief Ministers and it will not be taken away from the President under a govt headed by the common candidate, Maithripala Sirisena, General Secretary of the JHU Champika Ranawaka said. Ranawaka, who is one of the major campaigners for Sirisena, stressed that the common Opposition will not end the unitary status of the country and the executive powers held by the provincial governors under the purview of the Head of the State more..

TNA will not call for polls boycott

Dec 22 (CG) The TNA, following a meeting with TNA provincial council, local council members and MPs, decided not to call for a boycott of the Presidential election. TNA MP Mavai Senathirajah told reporters in Vavuniya that the TNA leadership will soon decide which candidate to support at the election. He said that the TNA felt boycotting the election and telling the Tamils not to vote at the election will not serve any purpose. more..

No impersonation: Give voting right to migrant workers

Dec 22 (DM) While the hard-fought campaign for the crucial presidential election enters into top speed on the political superhighway, the parties in the common opposition, top State officials and independent election monitors need to take effective measures to ensure that the January 8 election is free, fair and peaceful. The common opposition candidate Maithripala Sirisena last Friday presented the 10,165-word manifesto for a just and compassionate administration to begin more..

It's not too late Mr. Mahinda Deshapriya...

Dec 22 (CT) Election violence seems to reach unprecedented levels in the current presidential election campaign. Last Saturday, political goons attacked a UNP meeting in Haputale minutes before the arrival of Ranil Wickremesinghe. The UNP Chief Organizer Senarath Jayasinghe sustained injuries in the attack. Last week political thugs in jeeps destroyed the election platform of common opposition candidate Maithripala Sirisena in Wanduramba, Galle. more..

'Left Front: An alternative for the people'

Dec 22 (DM) Apart from the two candidates one from the ruling UPFA and the other from the common opposition contesting at the presidential election next month, Left Front candidate Duminda Nagamuwa could be considered as the third in line to steal the attention in the race. Having started mainstream politics in the JVP, Mr. Nagamuwa is now a politburo member of the Frontline Socialist Party (FSP), more..

'We Will win with larger majority than in 2010'

Dec 22 (DM) Despite Mahinda Rajapaksa’s 2005 election manifesto clearly including a clause on the abolition of the Executive Presidency as one of the goals to be achieved upon being elected. Today, nine years afterwards, Minister Susil Premajayantha says President Rajapaksa never made such a promise. In a candid interview, Minister Premajayantha spoke on why they could not abolish the Executive Presidency more..

Road building or rip-off?

Dec 22 (ST) The choice of rapid road building as a catalyst to economic development, particularly post-war, is a judicious and timely strategy that must be commended. When properly planned, highways should deliver benefits much greater than the cost of construction, thus contributing towards economic growth. However, higher construction costs and poor planning lead to inadequate benefits that will make such roads a buden to more..

Several areas flooded: Bad weather to continue

Dec 22 (Island) The Meteorology Department yesterday warned that showers or thundershowers with strong winds would prevail across the country until December 25/26 due to atmospheric disturbances. Deputy Meteorologist Malith Fernando said that showers or thundershowers would occur at times in the Northern, North-central, Eastern, Central and Uva provinces and in the Hambantota District today too. more..

Mervyn Silva axed: 'I resigned after President's request' - Mervyn

Dec 22 (AM) Public Relations Minister Mervyn Silva has said that he has decided to step down from the Kelaniya Electorate Organizer position upon a request made by President Rajapaksa. Minister had said therefore he would temporarily resign from his position as the organizer. The ruling party has already appointed Shalitha Wijesundara as the new Electorate Organizer of Kelaniya, replacing Mervyn Silva. more..

Election gathers momentum in Polonnaruwa

Dec 22 (SL) Unlike in Colombo and its suburbs, election violations – displaying cutouts, banners and posters of Presidential candidates – were hardly seen beyond Ambepussa up to Habarana and Polonnaruwa last week. It seems people are not enthusiastic on poster campaigns but fervent in electing the right candidate. They are keen to elect the ruler from their district. They are really proud of the opportunity they received. more..

‘Only MS can settle Geneva crisis’

Dec 22 (Island) The UNP-led Opposition declared that a victory for Opposition presidential candidate Maithripala Sirisena at Jan 8, poll would help settle accountability issues/war crimes charges raised by the Geneva-based UNHRC. UNP strategist MP Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, PC, stressed that as re-election of incumbent President Rajapaksa for a third term would be inimical to Sri Lanka’s interests, people should vote for more..

Anandasangaree supports Maithripala

Dec 22 (AM) TULF General Secretary and former MP V. Anandasangaree has pledged support to Common Candidate Maithripala Sirisena, highly placed political sources said. Anandasangaree is a vocal critic of violence committed by all sides during the three decade long war and a stern supporter of federalism of India and bears an opinion that federalism will be the solution to Sri Lanka's ethnic conflict. more..

Upcoming poll tests Rajapaksa's popularity

Dec 22 (Xinhua) Political party crossovers, election law violations and an intense debate over Sri Lanka's economic future are the main ingredients that spice up the island's presidential election scheduled for early January next year. Incumbent President Rajapaksa signed on Nov. 20 the proclamation, calling for presidential election where he is seeking a third term though he still has two more years to complete his current term. more..

SL set for more polls as battle intensifies

Dec 22 (EN) Irrespective of who wins the presidential elections, the country is almost certain to see a parliamentary election by June next year, according to sources on both sides of the political divide. Common opposition candidate Maithripala Sirisena in his 100-day program vows to dissolve parliament on April 23, a move that could lead to a general election by June. President Rajapakse too told close confidants that more..

Priorities dor the next President

Dec 22 (GV) I want to thank Mario and the family of ICES for asking me to make this presentation on what should be the priorities for the next president. There are of course many issues but I will present what I think are the most important aspects. To begin with, one has the debate which we have had since independence, that which we see now emerging as well. There is one school of thought that focuses on the economy and stability that is often called the J.R. mantra. more..

Development, moral order and power-money politics: Critical thoughts

Dec 22 (GV) Interesting arguments and counter arguments emerge from the political stage in Sri Lanka these days as the campaigning for the Presidential election heats up. Political leaders on various pretexts claim guardianship of the nation. Both main candidates have made promises to create a better society focusing on discipline and moral order as well as the younger generation. Though the incumbent had ten years to do all this, and more importantly 5 years after conclusion of war, more..

Ada Cartoon

Sri Lankan stocks becalmed, off-market deals dominate

Dec 22 (EN) Shares were barely changed Monday with the indices closing mixed in trading dominated by crossings or off-market negotiated deals with the focus mainly on large-cap stocks. All Share Price Index closed down just one point at 7,251.57 while the S&P SL20 index, went up 1.78 points to end at 4,064.57. Turnover was a low 868 million rupees of which 253 million rupees came from trades in Commercial Bank, with the lack of interest attributed to the coming Christmas break and more..

Kandy Municipal budget passed; two opposition members also vote for it

Dec 22 (Island) A UNP member and the solitary SLMC member of the Kandy Municipal Council (KMC) voted in favour of the Kandy UPFA Mayor’s Budget for 2015 on Friday to pass with a majority of six votes. Mayor Mahindra Ratwatte (UPFA) presented his 4th budget in succession which received the support of the UNP, Councillor S. Sivagnanam and SLMC Councillor Asmin Marikar. Projected revenue of the KMC Rs. 20,020,074,000 million & expenditure is Rs. 20,020,038,000 more..

Video: Hambantota Mayor Eraj arrested

Dec 22 (AD) The Mayor of the Hambantota Municipal Council, Eraj Fernando, has been arrested by police in connection with the attack on a street drama group performing in Hambantota. The Mayor and his supporters were accused over the attack on the street drama troupe, Weediye Virodaya organized by civil society member and veteran artist Jayathilake Bandara. Several persons including Bandara and more..

'Chandrika manipulated state media in 2004'

Dec 22 (Island) The JVP claimed it had not approved of the manipulation by the then President Chandrika Kumaratunga of the state media in favour of her UPFA in the run-up to the 2004 general election though it was part of that coalition. Responding to a query the JVP General Secretary said: "We raised our voice against then President Kumaratunge. She says the the state media is biased under President Rajapaksa. That is true but she also abused the media." more..

Hambantota: Those responsible for attacking UNP MPs led assault on artistes – Sajith

Dec 22 (Island) UNP Deputy Leader Sajith Premadasa said that Sunday’s attack on a group of UNPers, including the Opposition Leader of the Hambantota Municipal Council Ayub Khan should be examined against the backdrop of the SLFP-led government’s failure to punish those responsible for attacking a group of UNP parliamentarians visiting Mattala airport a few months ago. Hambantota District MP Premadasa alleged that some persons had been involved in both incidents. more..

Sri Lanka’s leader pledges peaceful handover should he lose election

Dec 22 (FT) President Rajapaksa has offered reassurances that his govt will peacefully hand over power in the event of a possible defeat in tightly fought elections in January, as he seeks an unprecedented third term in office. In response to questions from the Financial Times, Mr Rajapaksa also pledged a new drive to attract foreign direct investment were he to win, including forging deeper economic ties with China, which has pumped more..

2014: Year of reckoning for Sri Lanka and President Rajapaksa

Dec 22 (PTI) Sri Lanka made global headlines in 2014 with few positives as it faced censure from the UN for its human rights record while President Rajapaksa ordered snap presidential polls seeking a record a third term amid efforts to address the vexed fishermen issue with India. If the UNHRC resolution was a disaster, the silver lining came in the form of India's abstention at the crucial vote in Geneva. Rajapaksa was elated as India had backed both previous resolutions by siding with the US. more..

Video: Solangaarachchi challenges Namal for debate

Dec 22 (DM) Kotikawatta-Mulleriyawa PS Chairman Prasanna Solangaarachchi today challenged UPFA MP Namal Rajapaksa to a debate on the activities of Tharunyayata Hetak youth organization. Addressing a news conference, he said the organization was only active during election times and had done nothing to the youth. “I like to invite MP Rajapaksa to a debate before the presidential election on his organization. He can even bring 20 people to debate with only two from our side,” he said. more..

UNP slams police over inaction

Dec 22 (CG) The UNP today slammed the police for failing to take action to prevent recent violence related to the elections. UNP MP Karu Jayasuriya said that the recent violent incidents targeting rallies and activists of the common opposition amply demonstrate the lack of democratic space under the Rajapaksa govt. “It is the best evidence of the urgent need to change course before this state terror and violence consumes us all,” he said. more..

Rookie SL bowlers shine in drawn match

Dec 22 (CI) Sri Lankan's rookie offspinner and seamer were the major movers and shakers on the second and final day of the drawn warm-up match in Queenstown, as they claimed three wickets apiece to help reduce the New Zealand Chairman's XI to 125 all out. Quick Dushmantha Chameera and offspinner Tharindu Kaushal only bowled 7.5 overs between them, but claimed 3 for 13 each. Dimuth Karunaratne and Niroshan Dickwella also hit fifties in the second innings. more..

Opp. leader of North Central PC joins govt

Dec 22 (AD) Opposition Leader of the North Central Provincial Council K.K. Nelson pledged to support President Mahinda Rajapaksa at the Presidential election. Nelson while speaking at a press conference held at the SLFP headquarters said he will unconditionally support the President at the forthcoming election. Nelson elected to the North Central Province Council under the UNP ticket, and appointed as the opposition Leaders on 15 September, 2012. more..

Gammanpila forms Pivithuru Hela Urumaya

Dec 22 (AD) WPC member Udaya Gammanpila who recently resigned from the JHU has taken measures to establish a new party called Pivithuru Hela Urumaya (PHU) under the symbol of lotus. Gammanpila quite the JHU and pledged to support President Rajapaksa at the forthcoming Presidential election. He said that a ‘policy decision’ led for his resignation. PHU will also assist incumbent President at the election, more..

Maithripala too holds Vajra in public resembling MR

Dec 22 (AM) While President Rajapaksa is widely criticized for his superstitious habits, Common Candidate fof the opposition Maithripala Siripala is also showing that he is no exception, when it comes to his belief in supernatural powers. At a recently held election rally, the Common Candidate was seen holding a devise called “Vajra” – something that is often seen with President Rajapaksa. The devise, according to those who believe in supernatural powers, is capable of mustering the powers more..

NFF tells public servants not to be fooled by Sirisena’s promises

Dec 22 (Island) Former NFF MP Piyasiri Wijenayaka warned govt servants not to be fooled by the promises made to them in the election manifesto issued by the New Democratic Front. Wijenayake pointed out that the common Presidential candidate Maithripala Sirisena was trying to take 1.5 million govt servants for a ride by announcing salary increase of Rs.10,000 within hundred days if he was elected President. NFF wanted to know how he would increase such an amount as more..

Tissa reveals Ranil-Maithripala agreement

Dec 22 (AD) Health Minister Tissa Attanayake today alleged that in addition to the agreements reached with various political parties and organizations in public, Common Candidate Maithripala Sirisena has also signed different deals with those parties in private. The former UNP General Secretary, who recently crossed over to the govt, claimed that he possessed documents of such an agreement reached with UNP. more..

'Clarify nature of war crimes probe panel'

Dec 22 (DM) Minister G.L. Peiris today said the common opposition candidate Maithripala Sirisena should clarify the nature of the panel he would appoint to probe into war crimes charges against the military forces. The minister said the foreign media has announced reports that Mr. Siripala was intending to appoint a judicial panel to investigate war crimes charges against armed forces personnel. “This is a matter that will have far-reaching consequences. more..

'140,000 years to settle Mattala loan'

Dec 22 (DM) With a monthly income of Rs. 16,000 for airport, the Rajapaksa govt will take 140,000 years to settle the Rs. 27 thousand million loan it has taken to build Mattala airport, JHU General Secretary Champika Ranawaka said. “Rajapaksa regime which has accused other leaders of earning money for generations has made this country indebted for eons in its bid to get an airport close to family home town. Last extinct species of man Homo erectus disappeared 143,000 years ago more..

New British HC to Sri Lanka

Dec 22 (FCO) James Dauris has been appointed British High Commissioner to Sri Lanka and British High Commissioner to the Republic of Maldives in succession to Mr John Rankin, who will be transferring to another Diplomatic Service appointment. Mr Dauris will take up his appointment at the beginning of April 2015. Mr Dauris joined the FCO in 1995 and served most recently as British Ambassador to Peru for four years. more..