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June trade gap widens as tea, textile exports fall, car imports rise

Aug 21 (EN) Sri Lanka’s trade deficit widened in June 2015 as exports fell, dragged down by lower earnings from tea and textiles, while imports rose, led by car imports. Deficit in the trade account in June 2015 widened by 51.9% to US$ 689 million from the year before. Earnings from exports in June 2015 fell 4.2% to US$ 944 million from previous year. Expenditure on imports in June 2015 increased by 13.5% to US$ 1,633 million more..

Champika also extends invitation to form national govt

Aug 21 (Island) UNP MP elect Champika Ranawaka invited the SLFP to join the UNP to form a national unity govt. Everything would be done to protect the national security of the country, he added. The defeat of SLFP-led UPFA had indicated that the SLFP needed an immediate party re-structure and its liberation from the clutches of a single family, Ranawaka said. He said the TNA also needed to change as more..

Investigators resume probe against Rajapaksa regime

Aug 21 (Xinhua) Sri Lanka's new UNF govt on Friday re-started a corruption probe against the former govt headed by Mahinda Rajapakse by questioning a former senior minister. Wimal Weerawansa, the previous health minister, was questioned by officers of the Financial Crimes Investigations Division (FCID) on Friday over the misappropriation of funds when he was in power. His wife Sashi Weerawansa was also summoned to FCID on Thursday more..

Malik, Karu, Athuraliya in UNP national list

Aug 21 (CG) UNP Chairman Malik Samarawickrema, Karu Jayasuriya, D.M. Swaminathan and JHU member Athuraliya Rathana thero are among those included in the UNP national list submitted today. Dr. Jayampathi Wickremeratne, Thilak Marapana, Professor C.A. Marasinghe, Anoma Gamage, M.K.D.S Gunawardena, Dr. A.R Hafeez of SLMC, Srinal de Mel, M.H.M Salman and M.H.M Navavi of ACMC are also in UNP national list. more..

UNP, SLFP sign MoU on national govt

Aug 21 (AM) A MoU was signed between the UNP and the SLFP on a national govt this morning at the Presidential Secretariat. MoU was signed immediately after the swearing-in of PM Ranil Wickremesinghe. UNP General Secretary Kabir Hashim and SLFP Acting General Secretary Duminda Dissanayake signed the MoU on behalf of the two parties. UNP won 106 seats in the recent parliamentary election. more..

Wickremesinghe sworn in as Sri Lankan PM

Aug 21 (Reuters) Ranil Wickremesinghe was sworn in on Friday as Sri Lanka's PM after winning a general election, and agreed with President Maithripala Sirisena's party to form a national unity govt to push ahead with reforms. Wickremesinghe, 66, took the oath of office in a Buddhist ceremony in the presence of Sirisena, cementing an alliance between the two that successfully fought off a comeback bid by more..

A national govt. for peace and unity

Aug 21 (CT) If any facet of the 2015 August general election augured well for all of Sri Lanka, it was unarguably the fact that the populace shunned all appeals, subtle or overt, made by politicians of every hue, to stoke the fires of racist antagonism and its litany of innuendo about the immanency of Tamil separatism lurking just around the corner. No one was buying this package of national psychological and moral sabotage anymore. They threw out that jargon with a new found realization that more..

This victory is a victory for soft power

Aug 21 (CT) The TNA has achieved a resounding victory at the 2015 General Election, successfully overcoming the challenges and fierce opposition it faced. For the second time this year, the Tamil People have shown a clear intention to strengthen the hand of the Tamil National Alliance. They have done so keeping intact the goal of their long term political struggle, and with hope that their lives will be restored. Our People’s clear recognition of the crucial nature of this election, more..

Buffalo park to world stardom

Aug 21 (CT) Marathoner Niluka Rajasekara (33) will create history when she competes in the 15th IAAF World Championship in Beijing as the country's first female marathoner, while also set to be the first female marathoner to represent the country at the Olympics next year in Rio. But the road to Beijing, and then to Rio, wasn't a rosy path for her in the slightest possible way, as she had to overcome many obstacles along more..

Shares up; Wickremesinghe sworn in

Aug 21 (Reuters) Shares ended firmer on Friday on hopes of political stability after Ranil Wickremesinghe was sworn in as the new prime minister, and formed an alliance with President Sirisena's party to push ahead reforms. The main stock index ended 0.29% or 21.35 points firmer, at 7,471.17. "We have seen some buying interest coming in," said Dimantha Mathew, a research manager at First Capital Equities. "We expect the market to move after formation of new govt." more..

Singaporean leaders congratulate PM

Aug 21 (CNA) Leaders of Singapore on Friday sent congratulatory letters to PM Ranil Wickremesinghe, who has been re-elected for another term. “Your electoral victory reflects the faith Sri Lankans have placed in your vision of a peaceful, democratic and prosperous nation. Under your leadership, Sri Lanka has implemented wide-ranging reforms and enhanced healthcare, education and infrastructure,” wrote PM Lee Hsien Loong in a letter to his Sri Lankan counterpart. more..

Persistent India edge slightly ahead on attritional day

Aug 21 (CI) The second day of the P Sara Test was almost a coming-of-age day of Test cricket for Virat Kohli's India. They didn't score hundreds of runs, they didn't take tens of wickets, but they were persistent both with bat and the ball. When the runs didn't come easily, their last four wickets ground out 74 to deny Sri Lanka a clear advantage. When the wickets didn't come as readily as in the first Test, they refused to bowl loose more..

Chinese premier congratulates new Sri Lankan PM on swearing-in

Aug 21 (Xinhua) Chinese Premier Li Keqiang sent a congratulatory message Friday to Ranil Wickremesinghe, who was sworn in early in the day as PM of Sri Lanka. In the message, Li said that China and Sri Lanka are good, time-tested friends and partners which, in recent years, have deepened cooperation in a variety of areas, bringing concrete benefits to people of the two countries. He said that the friendly cooperation between China and Sri Lanka is in the fundamental interests more..

JVP rejects Ranil’s offer to join govt

Aug 21 (Island) JVP rejected PM Ranil Wickremesinghe’s invitation for all parties to join the future govt. JVP Propaganda Secretary Vijitha Herath said JVP MPs would be in the Opposition. The JVP has secured four seats in Parliament from Colombo, Kalutara, Gampaha and Hambantota Districts at Monday’s election and they also obtained two seats from the National List. PM Wickremesinghe invited all parties represented in Parliament to join with them to form a govt more..

UPFA finalises National list

Aug 21 (DM) The UPFA today finalised the party’s National List had sent it the EC. S.B. Dissanayake, Thilanga Sumathipala, Mahinda Samarasinghe, Lakshman Yapa Abeywardane and Vijith Vijayamuni Zoysa had made it to parliament through the list. Malith Jayathilake, Dilan Perera, Angajan Ramanathan, Faizer Musthapa, A.H.M. Fowzie and M.L.A.M. Hizbullah were the rest of the National List MPs from the UPFA. more..

Looking for a lead of 100 runs: B Arun

Aug 21 (CI) India bowling coach Bharat Arun has said India will be satisfied with a lead of around 100 runs because of the condition of the P Sara Oval pitch, which he said would offer both bounce and reverse swing. The Indian bowlers kept Sri Lanka down to under three runs an over in their first innings on the second day, as the hosts ended on 140 for 3, still 253 runs behind. "We are probably looking for a lead of about 100 runs… If we get a lead of 100 runs on this track, it is beginning to wear and more..

New US Ambassador presents credentials

Aug 21 (DM) New U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka and Maldives Atul Keshap presented his credentials to President Maithripala Sirisena in a ceremony at the Presidential Secretariat today. The ceremony marks the official beginning of Keshap’s tenure as the U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka. The US embassy in Colombo said that Ambassador Keshap is a career diplomat with the U.S. Department of State, and has spent much of his career focusing on South Asia, including Sri Lanka. more..

New envoys congratulate President for holding democratic elections

Aug 21 (PSL) Three new Ambassador presented their credentials to President Maithripala Sirisena at the Presidential Secretariat today. Those who presented credentials new US Ambassador Athul Keshap, Italian Ambassador Paolo Andrea Bartorelli and the Netherlands Ambassador Joanne Doornewaard. President Sirisena, referring to close bilateral relations with Sri Lanka and the countries more..

Sri Lanka seafood exports dive 36% in first half after EU ban

Aug 21 (EN) Sri Lanka seafood exports dived 36% to US$ 85.8 million in the first six months of 2015, following ban by the European Union. Central Bank said exports of fisheries products to the EU fell 72% in June 2014 from a year earlier. But exports to non-EU markets picked up 18%. June exports of total fisheries products fell 26.7% to US$ 13.5 million from US$ 18.4 million a year earlier. Sri Lanka's fish exports was banned after the country was unable to convince the EU that is was taking sufficient more..

Centre should take efforts to solve Lankan Tamils problem: CPI

Aug 21 (PTI) CPI said that the Centre should take efforts to find a solution to the problems of Tamil population Sri Lanka, considering the changed political equation in that country. Though there were high expectations after the defeat of Mahinda Rajapaksha and installation of Sirisena as President last year, no no development had taken place either with regard to Tamils or giving equal status on par with Sinhalese to them, CPI Tamil Nadu Secretary R Mutharasan told the reporters. more..

Sri Lanka's nice-guy president channels his inner Machiavelli

Aug 21 (Reuters) A betting man would have demanded long odds a year ago on SL completing a peaceful transition of power after years of international isolation under the authoritarian leader who brought a bloody end to the country's civil war. But in Monday's parliamentary elections, the bespectacled Maithripala Sirisena, who came from nowhere to win the presidency in January, confounded the doubters, thwarting more..

Does SL’s electoral outcome offer stability?

Aug 21 (NI) General election proved to be a tight race between its 2 main contenders, UNP and UPFA coalition, leaving neither side with the simple majority required to form a govt on its own. Centre-right UNP that won 106 seats in the 225-member parliament – 11 more than its rival – will need the support of smaller parties to pass laws. Situation gives leverage to the TNA, which came in third with 16 seats in north & east, where Tamil and Muslim minority communities are concentrated. more..

Ashwin 3 - 0 Sangakkara

Aug 21 (CI) 1.6: Angelo Mathews' economy in India's innings; he conceded just 24 runs off his 15 overs and bowled seven maidens. Mathews' economy of 2.13 in Tests in 2015 is the second-best among bowlers to bowl at least 50 overs. 17.81: Rangana Herath's bowling average in this series; he has now taken 11 wickets, including the four he took in India's first innings. In four Tests against India before this series, Herath had taken 12 wickets at an average of 54.91. more..

Monk, murder suspect, mistress in Sri Lanka's new parliament

Aug 21 (EN) Sri Lanka's new parliament will have a motely collection that will include a monk, a murder suspect, a mistress and even a couple of MPs who once shared the same wife. Lone Buddhist monk in the new parliament will be Athuraliye Rathana who is piggy-backing on an elephant to re-enter the House this time through the backdoor known as the National List. Honourable venerable MP’s JHU has a legacy of going to more..

Australia offers to support reconciliation efforts

Aug 21 (CG) Australian Govt today offered to support Sri Lanka as it makes progress on national reconciliation. Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop congratulated PM Wickremesinghe on his re-election, following the peaceful and orderly parliamentary elections on 17 August 2015. “We look forward to working with PM Wickremesinghe’s govt to further develop our strong bilateral relationship and to address shared regional and global challenges,” she said. more..

PM Modi congratulates Ranil Wickremesinghe on being sworn-in

Aug 21 (GDI) PM Narendra Moditoday congratulated Ranil Wickremesinghe on being sworn-in as PM. "Congratulations & best wishes to Ranil Wickremesinghe on being sworn-in as Sri Lanka's PM," he tweeted. After Wickremesinghe's United National Party won the Sri Lankan Parliamentary polls, the Prime Minister had called him up on August 18 to congratulate him and expressed confidence that the relations between the two countries will get better under his leadership. more..

Welgama, Pavithra and SM sacked from UPFA ExCo

Aug 21 (AD) Former MP Kumara Welgama says that he has received letters from the General Secretaries of the SLFP and UPFA notifying of his removal from the UPFA Executive Committee. MP-elect said that he received a letter signed by the Acting General Secretary of the SLFP Duminda Dissanayake informing of his removal from the party’s Central Committee. He stated that the second letter more..

5 things to know about Sri Lanka's new PM

Aug 21 (BS) Ranil Wickremesinghe was on Friday sworn in as Sri Lanka’s PM for a fourth time, following his party’s victory in parliamentary polls. The country’s two major political parties signed a power-sharing deal to form a national unity govt. Immediately after the swearing-in ceremony, the two main parties — Wickremesinghe’s UNP and Maithripala Sirisena’s SLFP — sealed a memorandum of understanding paving the way for setting up of a national unity govt. more..

First session tomorrow is crucial for us: Silva

Aug 21 (PTI) Sri Lankan opener Kaushal Silva has asserted the need for his team to bat well in the morning session of day three of the second cricket Test against India at the P Sara Oval. Thanks to his 51 runs, the hosts finished day two at 140/3, adrift of the Indian total of 393 by 253 runs. "I think we are in a solid position. The first hour tomorrow is going to be crucial for us. That session, if we bat without giving a wicket, then we can put pressure back on them. We need to bat positively and more..

'Despite defeat, I will serve the people'

Aug 21 (DM) Popular actress Upeksha Swarnamali aka Paba who lost her bid for election on the UPFA ticket in the Gampaha district said today she would continue serving the people. She said that she was grateful to all those who voted for her. The absence of a strong election campaign and the lack of experienced organizers were the main reasons for her defeat. “There were shortcomings on my side as well. more..

TRCSL speed testing facility back online

Aug 21 (CT) Broadband speed testing facility link which is a mandatory requirement that every data provider has to have on their website for public benefit, is back on line after being inactive for a month. Broadband speed testing facility link imposed by The Telecom Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL) as a mandatory tool for the data service providers was out of commission during the month of July 2015. Therefore, during this period several service providers went to more..

Sampanthan confident of political solution

Aug 21 (CT) Tamils in the North and East in Sri Lanka had correctly displayed the confidence they have on the TNA to the international community; the TNA will not betray that confidence and would continue the political journey to achieve their legitimate political aspiration, said R. Sampanthan, leader of the TNA and the re-elected MP from the Trincomalee District at the general election held on Monday. Soon after the election he visited historic Trincomalee Badrakali Ammman Kovil more..

GTF to push for political solution for Tamils

Aug 21 (CG) The Global Tamil Forum (GTF) says it will seek the full support of the international community, including India, to help implement the legitimate demands of the Tamil people through a negotiated political solution. The London based leading diaspora group said the Tamil people are anxious to see a political solution on the basis of the TNA’s manifesto commitments to the long standing Tamil national question. more..

Are we ready for change?

Aug 22 (CT) This is a great moment for Tamils, for Singhalese, for Muslims. This is a great moment for the country. Ultimately there is a feeling of relief, a hope that human dignity and democracy will be restored in this country. The 2015 parliamentary elections were significant in many ways for Sri Lanka. Notably it is a watershed election where people from both sides of the ethnic divide have decisively rejected extremism. In the North, the Tamil National People’s Front (TNPF) more..

Elections: Cautious Euphoria

Aug 22 (CT) I wonder if, of the many who opted for change, some were not voting for Mr Sirisena but rather against Mr Rajapaksa? If so (and altering “The known devil is better than the unknown devil”) was it also a case here of the partially-known being a better option than the devil and his cohorts who had proved their degree of devilishness? If my surmise has foundation, I would suggest three broad grounds for the rejection of the Rajapaksa faction: (1) The lawlessness and violence, brutal and more..

'Election proves Sri Lanka is now a mature democracy'

Aug 22 (FT) The election has reinforced the message that Sri Lanka is now a mature democracy and equally fit to be ranked in any country in the European Union or around the world which is called developed, said Niranjan Deva Aditya, also known as Nirj Deva, a politician from the UK. He stressed that good governance, rule of law, transparency and democracy had triumphed and we should now try to make SL next Singapore. more..

Sri Lanka headed for thorough overhaul post-election

Aug 22 (IANS) With the defeat of Mahinda Rajapakhsa's UPFA in the just-concluded parliamentary election, not only is the island nation likely to go through a political overhaul but its strategic implications would also influence the course of events in parts of South Asia. UNP-led UNFGG has come out victorious in this all important election. On the eve of the election, Rajapakhsa was certain that the UPFA, of which his SLFP was a major partner, would bag upto 117 seats, more..

Wealth of a New Nation

Aug 22 (NS) I am happy: I am happy that we engage in politics. Otherwise, cricket would become the most popular game. Get ready: For better or for worse, a new era will begin. So, get ready for it. Mahinda: Mahinda used to be a good leader. Today he is a good speaker. Who has changed him? Basil: Basil thought that a country was a set of statistics. That was his mistake. Wimal: Wimal thought that the people have only ears and no brains. That was his mistake. more..

'I quit WPC to engage in national politics'

Aug 22 (CT) The JVP politburo member K.D. Lalkantha says those who wanted to defeat Mahinda Rajapaksa voted for the elephant. "The people could not ensure victory for us and defeat Rajapaksa at the same time. If they were to do that we should have contested on the elephant symbol. But we do not prostitute our politics". Q: What happened to the JVP this time? A: People lined up on 8 Jan at Presidential more..

Northerners reject Spider men

Aug 22 (CT) It is not the well anticipated victory of the TNA at the general election that matters. But the complete rejection of the Crusaders of Democracy (CD) party which consisted of ten former LTTE cadres contesting under the symbol of spider at the polls by the people in the North had very well highlighted the present mindset of the people devastated by the three decades of war. The 17 August parliamentary polls in the North and East remain significant in many ways. more..