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Spectre of violence hangs over SL polls

Jan 6 (IPS) As 14.5 million Sri Lankans prepare to select their next leader, there is growing fear that violence could mar the Jan. 8 elections, billed as the closet electoral contest in the island’s history. Election monitors were worried that as incumbent President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his rival Maithripala Sirisena wound down their campaigns on Jan. 5, violence would scare off voters. more..

Some Sampur IDPs to return home

Jan 6 (CT) Northern Provincial Councillor Dr. S. Sivamohan conveyed his greetings to the people residing in the Sampur Welfare Centre, as some of them will be soon resettled. He said that a part of the IDPs were sent to their own places in Sampur yesterday to clean the environment. "I'm very happy that the people from Sampur will be resettled very soon in their own places," he said. Dr. Sivamohan released a report on 26 Dec about the grievances faced by the people of Sampur. more..

Polls showcase SL’s internal strife

Jan 6 (GN) On the face of it President Rajapakse should sail smoothly through the snap presidential elections called by him, after a 10-year stranglehold on power. The reality, however, could be altered given that his reign is showing signs of decay, thanks to questionable policy decisions coupled with a totalitarian attitude that has seen him set up a virtual private family enterprise within govt. It is no surprise that given the people’s diminishing faith in and frustration with the faltering more..

Sri Lanka on tenterhooks as election nears

Jan 6 (AJ) It is being described as one of the most closely fought and significant presidential elections in the past two decades as Sri Lankans get set to vote amid a backdrop of rising campaign violence. Thursday's election is significant because it's the first national poll since a 2010 constitutional amendment made by President Rajapaksa that removed term limits on the presidency, thereby allowing him to seek an unprecedented third more..

Video: SL nears 'tight' presidential election

Jan 6 (BBC) On Thursday, Sri Lanka will vote in presidential elections. In what is predicted to be a close contest, the country's President Rajapaksa is running for a third time, and his main challenger is a man who was part of his own govt less than two months ago. President Rajapaksa has been the undisputed leader of the country for nearly a decade and is widely credited with putting an end to an ethnic war with Tamil militants. But Sri Lanka is still grappling with divisions between more..

Monitors fear military presence may deter Sri Lankan voters

Jan 6 (AP) A monitoring group expressed concerns Tuesday that the military presence in the former war zone of northern Sri Lanka may lower voter turnout in the presidential election Thursday. Pakiasothy Saravanamuttu from the Centre for Monitoring Election Violence said that concerns have been raised about the vote in the north in particular and about the deployment of security forces that could have "an adverse impact on the voter turnout." Sri Lanka's military has been accused of more..

President Rajapaksa faces poll battle as war effect wanes

Jan 6 (AFP) President Rajapaksa will face an unprecedented challenge from a newly galvanised opposition when he seeks re-election this week, five years after his crushing military victory over Tamil guerrillas. South Asia's longest-serving leader had appeared politically invincible after his forces crushed the Tamil Tigers in 2009, ending a decades-long conflict and ushering in a new era of prosperity for the island nation. more..

8th Jan: The change we need

Jan 7 (CT) It is the general consensus amongst the voters of Sri Lanka, that we certainly need a change away from petty politics and to focus on developing the country in all fronts, may it be education, Trade, health, Transport, Agriculture and General administration while enforcing the rule of law. The incidents that have been happening around country will not be condoned by any person with slightest brains. We have been observing a rapid escalation of violence specially more..

Karma and Politics

Jan 7 (GV) Politics the world over is going through its test of time, as most “democratic” governments are now influenced either by corporations or China. These outside interests encourage a concentration of political power leading to an accumulation of economic wealth, especially if the Westminster based democracy erodes its checks and balances with solid opposition parties, independent bureaucracy and a judiciary complemented by various civil society institutions. more..

'Save the country from being pushed towards anarchy'

Jan 7 (SO) Minister Dr. Jagath Balasuriya says that history has given lessons for the leaders who have left their political parties for their personal gains and same will apply for the present leaders who have left the party on mere hatred. He also stressed the need to defeat the international conspiracy against Sri Lanka to prevent the country from being driven into an anarchic situation and creating an environment for separatism. more..

Electoral authoritarianism and fraudulent elections

Jan 7 (CT) Some social media and political analysts contend that unless something extraordinary happens, Maithripala’s victory is assured. The concern is the high probability of the ruling party committing potentially fraudulent acts which interfere with the process of elections and intend to change the outcome. Compared to blatant dictatorships, formal electoral mechanisms in democracies could fetishize the ability to prevent fraud and thus provide an even greater space for fraud. more..

2015 Election: A view from the village

Jan 7 (GV) For the last eight months I have been living in a village in the Kalutara district. The village is situated about 10 kilometres south of Kalutara the district capital and a kilometer or so east from the sea. The village economy is based on paddy farming and services with many young men and women commuting for work in Colombo and the neighbouring urban centres. The village is well served by rail and road transport. It is almost entirely Buddhist with temples of all three Nikayas more..

'We don't want to split the vote'

Jan 7 (CT) Leader of FSP, Kumar Gunaratnam, says he has no underhand dealings with the government and that he will stay in the country to engage in politics. Q: Are you a pawn of the govt? A: We have fielded Duminda Nagamuwa as the presidential candidate of the Left Front. Our aim is to revive Socialism. Two main parties in the contest have forgotten the people's real problems and they use this election for political gain. more..

Salman Khan in Colombo; Genghis Khans in Kurunegala

Jan 7 (SL) Bollywood’s male heartthrobs appear to think that Sri Lanka’s political fields are easy grounds for them to rampage through when they feel like it. Remember Bollywood’s Shah Rukh Khan was here during equally tense political times when he staged a show on Race Course Square ‘Temptation 2004’? A grenade was flung into a VIP section of the crowd killing two persons and injuring 11 others. Among the injured was Ven. Omalpe Sobitha thero, JHU parliamentarian. more..

So do we allow uncertainty to win over certainty?

Jan 7 (ST) My unseen friend Viruddha Pakshikaya has embarked on a long tirade against President Rajapaksa’s campaign last week and the thrust of his argument appears to be that the numerous cross-overs from the government to the Opposition indicates a victory for Maithripala Sirisena. Honestly, Viruddha Pakshikaya, I couldn’t be more pleased with some of the people pledging their support to Maithripala and what more reassuring sight than to have both the TNA and the SLMC more..

Boston Lanka: January 06, 2015

Sri Lanka polls: Delhi officially mum but watches closely

Jan 7 (HT) As Sri Lanka votes in what promises to be a surprisingly close presidential contest on Friday, India is watching closely. Officially, it has no preferences and can do business whoever is elected to power. But sources indicate that a structural change in the Sri Lankan polity may well open up the space to look at contentious issues from a fresh perspective, albeit this will not be a smooth process. Till a few months ago, it was unthinkable that President Rajapaksa - with his strong grip on more..

Importing Bollywood stars and campaigning in Arabian deserts: How barren can one get!

Jan 7 (ST) I am sure my rival, Raja Pakshikaya will respond to my comments last week but I have also been asked to contribute this Sunday as this is the last week of the election campaign. And what a week it has been, with victory for Maithripala Sirisena becoming more certain with every passing day. Raja Pakshikaya must know that most of our politicians know which way the electoral winds are blowing. They are good weather cocks – and that is why many of them are now jettisoning more..

CMEV concerned over possible military intervention in voting

Jan 7 (FT) Election watchdogs fear possible intervention by the military may disturb a peaceful voting process. The Center for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) stressed they are ‘seriously concerned’ about how the Army could or would influence the outcome of the election and voting on election day. CMEV Co-Convener Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu said they are worried about a list going around with regard to more..

Editorial: Calm before the storm

Jan 7 (Island) Hurly-burly is far from done and the battle is not yet lost and won. An end to campaigning has been announced officially, but propaganda activities continue unabated through the social media. They won’t stop until the polling is over on Thursday. The bush telegraph plays a crucial role in Sri Lankan politics and both the govt and the Opposition are busy floating all kinds of stories in a bid to ruin each other’s chances of winning. People get mistruths, half-truths and more..

Different grades of anti colonialism

Jan 7 (Island) There are different grades of anti colonialism. What is meant by colonialism here is modern western colonialism, which commenced in the last decades of the fifteenth century. This colonialism is different from the former colonialisms such as Chola, Pandya and Chera, which we have had to face in the history. Cholas and others ruled over parts of the country and they were more political in that respect. However, with modern western colonialism there were more..

How North views the polls

Jan 7 (CT) Voters in the Northern Province look forward to a viable administration and a political solution for the national question. They stressed the need for a proper method to streamline the civil administration to resolve problems of livelihood, resettlement, families of missing persons and political from the next president. Although there was less election related violence reported from the Northern Province people feel suspicious more..

Your nation Your moment

Jan 7 (NS) Feb 4 is Independence Day. March 8 is Women’s Day. The 15th of the same month we could celebrate, if we wanted to, World Consumer Rights Day. There’s a day for fashion, one for suicide prevention, one for architecture, one for diabetes and another for mental health, and of course the Poya Days, the New Year, Christmas and Easter, Ramadan, Deepavali and other days of religious significance. Then of course there’s Feb 14, Valentine’s Day, day for love & lovers, more..

Interest rates looking up due to State borrowings

Jan 7 (CT) Interest rates in the market are creeping up due to demand created by State bank borrowings on behalf of the Govt of Sri Lanka. This is despite the fact that the money market's excess liquidity are at high levels, even increasing by 1,792% to Rs 78.5 billion at the beginning of this week, over its previous week's close. "Matters, vis-à-vis upward pressure on rates are compounded due to foreign banks, which carry much of the excess liquidity in the market are however constrained in 'greater' interbank more..

China the rising star in Sri Lanka’s 2014 tourism windfall

Jan 7 (FT) Sri Lanka’s tourism industry has ended 2014 on a historic note, with China emerging as the rising star doubling its share of arrivals whilst traditional source markets UK and Western Europe continued their dominance. Overall arrivals in 2014 were up by 19.8% to 1.527 million, an all-time record. The double digit growth last year comes on top of a 16% improvement in 2013 over 2012, a development directly linked to more..

‘SLT competing successfully with multinationals’

Jan 7 (Island) ‘Most people still think we are in the fixed line business. Let me tell you, that assumption was left behind quite a while back. We are now competing with multinationals. More so we maintain leadership in the telecom industry. Multiple broad band technology is adopted to achieve greater penetration. We have built a national broad band network to facilitate ICT highways. That brings us to an equal playing field, If I could call it that. ‘Band spread puts us in a competitive stance; more..

Next President must embrace race relations, media freedom – Wickrema

Jan 7 (CT) Insurance Ombudsman Dr. Wickrema Weerasooria, a celebrated lawyer, legal academic and author of some twenty legal texts, who served in several senior public-sector positions and was also Sri Lanka's High Commissioner to Australia and New Zealand, states that regardless of who wins next Thursday's presidential election, race relations and media freedom must be given priority in the next govt's agenda. I have followed Sri Lankan politics closely for the past 45 years and more..

CPC mulls building jet fuel pipeline

Jan 7 (FT) The Ceylon Petroleum Corp (Ceypetco) is planning to build a jet fuel storage facility and a transfer pipeline from Muthurajawela terminal to BIA due to rising demand for the fuel, a tender document showed. Company has invited bids for consultancy services to do a feasibility study on the construction of the 22 kilometre-pipeline and three 10,000 ton jet fuel storage tanks at CPC Storage Terminal at Muthurajawela. more..

Violence, intimidation threaten vote

Jan 7 (HRW) Authorities in Sri Lanka should ensure that voters have safe and secure access to the polls to vote in presidential elections on Jan 8, and that state media is not misused in favor of the incumbent, Human Rights Watch said today. Local monitoring groups have reported numerous acts of election-related violence and intimidation during the month-long campaign that closed on Jan 5. CMEV documented 237 major incidents and 183 minor incidents during the campaign. more..

NSB clarifies International Bond Issue in 2013 - US$ 750M

Jan 7 (CT) NSB wishes to clarify its position on certain news items and on statements made at various forums on the International Bond Issue. In 2013 National Savings Bank entered into the international market to raise funds by issuing a USD Bond under the ruling RegS/144A. A RegS/144A means that it complies with US regulations and that of the Asian & European regulations. In terms of the relevant regulations only institutional investors are allowed to participate in subscribing more..

As vote nears, Astrologer for Sri Lanka’s President faces ultimate test of his skills

Jan 7 (NYT) Few people will be watching this week’s presidential election in Sri Lanka with more pointed interest than a balding, prosperous-looking man wearing a gold amulet under his shirt, who claims the title of “royal astrologer.” For decades, the astrologer, Sumanadasa Abeygunawardena, has stood beside the longtime politician and current president, Mahinda Rajapaksa, occupying a role that, more..

SLIIT commences special intake following release of A/L results

Jan 7 (Island) For over 15 years, SLIIT has been recognized as the premier degree awarding institute in the country which provides a broad scope of academic opportunities for students in the fields of Computing, Business and Engineering. By popular demand, due to the high credibility and reputation maintained by the institute, SLIIT has commenced a special intake for January 2015.  Students need to send in applications on or before the 14th of January. more..

Graveside service tomorrow to mark Lasantha’s sixth death anniversary

Jan 7 (FT) The sixth anniversary of the assassination of The Sunday Leader founder and Editor-in-Chief Lasantha Wickrematunge, which falls on 8 January, will be marked with a service at his graveside tomorrow. Family, friends, former colleagues and others, including those from political and diplomatic circles, will gather at Borella Kanatte at 8 a.m. to mark the anniversary and remember Lasantha. Assassinated on 8 Jan 2009, Lasantha was one of Sri Lanka’s leading journalists more..

Why Sri Lanka's election matters for China

Jan 7 (BW) Of all the world leaders watching the outcome of Sri Lanka’s presidential elections, Chinese President Xi Jinping has the most at stake. China has poured money into the island nation off India’s southern coastline over the past decade to become its largest investor, top govt lender and 2nd-biggest trading partner. Chinese submarines docked twice in Colombo last year, triggering protests from India. more..

Sri Lanka squares up to a critical election

Jan 7 (FT) In the theatrical words of Mahinda Rajapaksa, president of Sri Lanka since 2005, the country’s electorate this week faces a choice between a known devil and an unknown angel. Mr Rajapaksa, not surprisingly, is urging his countrymen to stick with the devil they know. That would mean handing him an unprecedented third presidential term. Voters, however, should think long and hard before they extend his mandate any further. more..

Navy readies Asian Theological College for papal visit

Jan 7 (Island) The navy has renovated chapel of ‘Our Lady of Lanka’ as well as teacher training school at Bolawalana, Negombo that had been in a dilapidated condition to coincide with Pope Francis’ visit to Sri Lanka. Pope is scheduled to visit the chapel on the morning of Jan 15 before leaving Sri Lanka. Rev. Fr. Cyril Fernando, Director, National Catholic Center for Social Communications said that the teacher training school had been converted to Asian Theological College. more..

Is Sri Lanka's Mahinda Rajapaksa in trouble?

Basil gives water to teacher on death fast

Jan 7 (CT) Chairperson of the Sri Lanka Independent Teachers' Association (SLITA), Wasantha Handapangoda, was hospitalized yesterday as a result of a hunger-strike she had been participating in since last Friday. The SLITA, along with 20 other trade unions from the education sector, initiated the hunger strike opposite Isurupaya on Friday, in protest against common presidential candidate Maithripala Sirisena's policies on education. more..

Navy denies TN fishers' allegations

Jan 7 (CT) Navy denied that it had threatened at gun point and chased away Indian fishermen who were fishing near the Katchchativu island. Commander Kosala Warnakulasuriya, denying the allegations levelled by the Tamil Nadu fishermen, said the allegations were, baseless and that the Indian fishermen, had on numerous occasions levelled such accusations against the Lankan Navy. He added, "The Navy detains the fishermen and hands them over to the police, only if they are more..

Sri Lanka braces for Pope Francis visit amid political turmoil

Jan 7 (IBT) Despite protests from Roman Catholic leaders, Pope Francis has remained committed to his planned three-day trip to Sri Lanka on Jan. 13. The visit takes place five days after the country’s election, and some fear the results could end in violence. “Individuals and groups may have expressed their views and concerns. But [the schedule] stands as it is,” Bishop Nobert Andradi of Anuradhapura, former secretary-general of more..