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Health Minister promises to expand drug production locally

Jan 7 (Island) Drug manufacturing firms in India and Bangladesh had reached unprecedented quality standards, but the local pharmaceutical industry had to be much improved and expanded to manufacture quality products to cater to the needs of patients, Health Minister Tissa Attanayaka said. President Rajapaksa had in his election manifesto had stated that a long-term strategy to manufacture drugs in Sri Lanka had to be expedited. The objective could be achieved if the country had more..

Only 50% of private buses operational from tomorrow

Jan 7 (Island) The Lanka Private Bus Owners’ Association (LPBOA) President Gemunu Wijeratne said that commencing tomorrow only 50% of the private buses would operate. Wijeratne pointed out that the crew who was operating buses on long-distance routes would be unable to cast their vote if all private buses operated as usual. Though there were about 20,000 private buses, only half would be operated for the convenience of commuters as well as voters in all 25 districts. more..

North: CMEV blames army for ‘discouraging voters’

Jan 7 (Island) The Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) asserted that the voter turnout in the Northern Province, particularly Jaffna peninsula, at Jan 8, presidential election could be low due to heavy military presence there. CMEV spokesperson Dr. Pakiasothy Saravanamuttu and its chief coordinator D.M. Dissanayaka accused the govt of instilling fear among the electorate by deploying the army more..

At judgment they stand

Jan 7 (DM) The campaign rallies have ended, the trumpets have sounded. At judgment before the Court of the Sovereign People stand Mahinda Rajapaksa and Maithripala Sirisena, the main contenders at the crucial Presidential Election, which could mark a historic turning point in politics in Sri Lanka. Both contenders had repeatedly pledged they would instruct their party members and supporters to ensure a free, fair and peaceful election campaign. more..

Policy responses to extreme weather events

Jan 7 (DM) The torrential rains and resulting floods in many parts of the country in recent weeks are undoubtedly the result of an extreme weather event; most probably linked to climate change. As a small country, Sri Lanka can do little to change the conditions that are at the root of climate change, though we cannot shirk our social responsibility to contribute to global effort to arrest the worsening trend. On the other hand, as a country, we have no choice but take all measures necessary to more..

Lasantha: The writing on the wall

Jan 7 (DM) January 8 is a day of triple significance for us Sri Lankans. It is the birth date of SLFP Founder President and former PM S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike who was born 1899. It is also the day on which the country faces a crucial presidential election when the people will have the opportunity of making an informed choice, in electing Sri Lanka’s new president for the next six years, keeping in mind the future direction of this Island Nation more..

NZ complete turnaround with big win

Jan 7 (CI) The way the fourth day had panned out - only one wicket - New Zealand would have known going through the Sri Lanka batting line-up was not going to be easy. The visitors had played out almost 11 hours in the second innings of the Christchurch Test without Kumar Sangakkara. The pitch was flatter in Wellington and Sangakkara was back in form. But once New Zealand picked up four wickets - including Sangakkara and more..

TNA’s decision and the Tamil vote

Jan 7 (SL) The decision of the TNA to fully support the Joint Opposition Candidate Maithripala Sirisena against incumbent President Rajapaksa in the Presidential election has irked sections of the Tamil Diaspora and its fellow travelers in the Northern Province. Media nets run by the pro-LTTE extremists such as Tamilnet have lambasted TNA leaders R. Sampanthan, M.A. Sumanthiran, Mavai Senathirajah, more..

Opposition MPs raid BMICH in search of fake ballot papers

Jan 7 (AM) A group Parliamentarians of the opposition entered the BMICH to carry out an investigation into fake ballot papers that were allegedly being kept within the premises. UNP LC Chairman Karu Jayasuriya, UNP Assistant Leader Ravi Karunanayake, JHU MP Athuraliye Rathana thera, JVP MP Wijitha Herath, former Minister Rajitha Senaratne and MP Arjuna Ranatunga were among the group of opposition MPs carrying out more..

Sri Lanka election set to be closest and most significant in decades

Jan 7 (Guardian) Voters in Sri Lanka will go to the polls on Thursday in one of the tightest and most significant presidential elections in the island nation for decades. Mahinda Rajapaksa, already the longest-serving ruler in the region, will seek a third term that would allow him to consolidate what critics say is an increasingly authoritarian and dynastic rule. But the 69-year-old politician’s decision to call early elections more..

Expressway building prices defy all construction cost logic

Jan 7 (ST) Acting RDA Chairman R.W.R. Pemasiri’s second response calls my figures erroneous and conclusions baseless. With regard to the Extension of the Southern Expressway (ESEP), he admits that the cost of the section between Pinnaduwa (Galle) and Godagama (Matara) should be ‘adjusted’ to US$ 8.5 million per km rather than US$ 4 million. While this statement flags the accuracy of actual costs of more..

EC assures Maithripala re-poll where laws flouted, continued violence

Jan 7 (Island) Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya assured the NDF Presidential candidate Maithripala Srisena that he would take action against anyone violating the laws governing the conduct of tomorrows Presidential Election and would not hesitate to call a re-poll if the violence that had occurred in certain areas continued. He was responding to representations by a delegation headed by Sirisena during a meeting more..

Sri Lanka's political outlook shaky, whoever wins knife-edge election

Jan 7 (Reuters) In a measure of how far Thursday's presidential election in Sri Lanka has become a knife-edge contest, diplomats here have been checking the rules in case of a dead heat: according to a 1981 act, the rival candidates would draw lots to settle on a winner. Until very recently, few would have predicted such uncertainty, not least President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who called the election two years early, more..

Sri Lankan people's political right must be respected: Amnesty

Jan 7 (CG) Amidst a surge in election-related harassment and violence ahead of the 8 January presidential poll, Sri Lankan authorities must ensure that people’s right to political participation is respected, Amnesty International said today. “The growing harassment and violence against those campaigning in the coming elections is deeply troubling – the authorities have a responsibility to ensure that all people in Sri Lanka can more..

IGP assures peaceful poll

Jan 7 (Island) IGP N.K. Illangakoon issuing a message through the Police Spokesman yesterday assured that voters would be able to exercise their franchise freely tomorrow as security had been beefed up with 71,100 police personnel including 5000 STF commandos deployed in all parts of the country. The Kahawatta and Badulla police, however, have failed to arrest Deputy Minister Premalal Jayasekara, more..

Let's Protect Democracy

Jan 7 (CT) Real power lies in the hands of the people who exercise their franchise to protect democracy. The representatives elected by their choice are vested with the responsibility of safeguarding democracy. If democracy lives on, social, economic and political interests of the individuals are served better. A few decades ago democracy looked to dominate. But, unfortunately, democracy experiences difficult times as some rulers in the world act in an authoritarian more..

Women's rights groups urge Sri Lanka reconciliation

Jan 7 (AA) Women's rights groups in Sri Lanka on Tuesday called on the winner of the country's presidential election to focus on justice for those who died and went missing during the country's three-decade long civil war. The signatories, who call themselves "Women Affected By War," said Thursday's election presents an opportunity to the people of Sri Lanka to call for justice and accountability. The appeal highlights numerous challenges faced by women in particular, more..

Video: Rs. 6,662 mn worth heroin seized during last two yrs

Jan 7 (DM) SSP Ajith Rohana said they have seized 662 kg of heroin worth Rs. 6,662 million during the last two years arresting 46,771 persons connected with drug trafficking. He said that 662 kg of heroin (350 kg in 2013 and 312 kg in 2014), amounting to Rs. 6,662 million were seized in 46,708 cases. “The most amount of heroin had been smuggled in from Pakistan. Many of the local smugglers had left the country. more..

Tomorrow, perhaps the future

Jan 7 (CT) The Kaduwela District Judge issued an enjoining order, forbidding the telecasting of Janapathi Janahamuwa, a long interview with Candidate Mahinda Rajapaksa. The Elections Commissioner agreed to a set of proposals by election monitors, aimed at ensuring transparency in ballot-counting. Hopefully these are omens of more democratic times to come. It is hard to believe that the Rajapaksas would allow themselves to be defeated electorally. more..

Fair weather on election day

Jan 7 (Island) No adverse weather was expected in the country tomorrow on election day, Meteorology Department Forecasting and Decision Support Director S.R. Jayasekara said. "The weather is going to be nice on Election Day", he said. "Winds will be on the light side. There may be some showers over a few areas. Overall, it looks like a pretty decent day." Jayasekara, however, predicted several spells of showers in the Eastern and Uva provinces and in the Hambantota District more..

Govt slams UN comments

Jan 7 (CG) Govt today noted with concern the recent remarks by the Spokesperson of the Secretary-General of the UN recalling the Secretary-General’s call to the Govt to ensure that the forthcoming Presidential elections are peaceful and inclusive. “The Spokesperson’s comments are gratuitous and inappropriate,” the External Affairs Ministry said. Sri Lanka noted that it has a vibrant tradition of democratic practice since 1931 more..

New Zealand's favourite opposition

Jan 7 (CI) 12: Tests won by New Zealand against Sri Lanka, to establish a win-loss ratio of 1.5 - their best against teams other than Bangladesh and Zimbabwe. West Indies is the only team they've beaten more times. 2: Times New Zealand have recovered from a deficit of 100 or more runs to win a Test. The only other instance was against Pakistan at Lancaster Park in Christchurch in 1994, when the hosts trailed by 144 in the first innings, and made 324 for 5 in the fourth to win by five wickets. more..

Five injured in clash between UPFA and NDF supporters

Jan 7 (Island) A clash between supporters of the UPFA and the NDF at Rambukkana on Monday night had left four govt supporters injured and one Opposition supporter injured. The NDF supporter with cut injuries was admitted to the Kegalle hospital while the four injured UPFA supporters have been admitted to the Rambukkana hospital. The main suspect in the attack on NDF supporter has been identified as ‘Bhavan’, who had not been arrested until this ediction went to press. more..

Champika apologizes to Dr. Lester James Peiris over edited photograph

Jan 7 (AM) JHU MP Champika Ranawaka has apologized to Sir Lester James Peiris about the misunderstanding caused due to an edited photograph of President Rajapaksa and Lester James Peiris. Ranawaka on a press conference which was held earlier, presented a photograph in which President Rajapaksa was embracing former LTTE Kumaran Padmanadan. Later it was revealed that the photograph was edited and that more..

Uneasy calm in Sri Lanka ahead of elections

Jan 7 (KT) Dammika Perera, a 28 year old man pleads with people on the street to buy his green citrus fruits. He has sold only one since morning, and needs the money to buy some flour and rice before the presidential elections on Thursday, he says. Two days before the most dramatic presidential elections the country has seen, the people of the island are nervous. Sri Lanka has never witnessed a presidential election where the outcome has been this unpredictable. more..

Yameen wants all Lankans freed

Jan 7 (CG) Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom has instructed the Maldivian authorities to handover all Sri Lankan prisoners currently held in Maldives to the Govt of Sri Lanka, the External Affairs Ministry said today. This gesture was in response to a request made on a humanitarian basis by President Mahinda Rajapaksa during a recent conversation with the President of Maldives. Fifteen Sri Lankan prisoners are currently serving sentences in Maldives. more..

Spectre of Tamil Tigers looms as Sri Lanka goes to polls

Jan 7 (AFP) Nearly six years after Sri Lanka’s army destroyed the Tamil Tigers, their ghost is haunting a bitterly fought presidential election as the embattled incumbent seeks to boost his share of the vote. The Tamil Tigers terrorised Sri Lanka for decades with their trademark suicide bombings and high-profile assassinations before suffering a spectacular defeat in May 2009, ending a civil war that had claimed 100,000 lives. more..

Star Power: Sri Lankan candidates vie for astrological edge

Jan 7 (WSJ) Television cameras rolled as a panel of experts seated behind a thicket of microphones somberly held forth at an opposition news conference in the lead-up to Sri Lanka’s closely fought presidential elections due Thursday. The subject: Astrology. Maithripala Sirisena, the man challenging President Mahinda Rajapaksa for the political leadership of this Indian Ocean island nation “has the most powerful horoscope, and nothing will stop him from winning,” more..

Victim of Pelmadulla shooting dies: Deputy Minister flees area?

Jan 7 (AM) Shantha Dodangoda, a supporter of Maithripala Sirisena who was shot at an election rally in Kahawatta, succumbed to his injuries. It was the first fatality of the presidential election of 2015. Three people were injured following the shooting incident and they were admitted to the hospital. This is the second shooting incident which took place during election rallies of the opposition since the commencement of campaigns. Eye-witnesses told the Police that the Deputy Minister Premalal more..

Sri Lanka’s Tamils say they will back president’s challenger

Jan 7 (AP) The retired postal worker knows who he’s voting against in Thursday’s presidential election. Like most ethnic Tamils on this island nation, he cannot even imagine voting for the current president, Mahinda Rajapakse, a man who solidified his power base by crushing a brutal Tamil insurgency and then largely ignored Tamil demands to heal the wounds of the decades-long civil war. So 67-year-old Santhiyapillai Pathmarajan plans more..

'Don’t use your pen'

Jan 7 (DM) Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya has instructed that marking of ballot papers should be done only with the pens provided at the polling centres. “There were media reports stating that people could take pens of their own. This is wrong. We will be providing either orange or brown colour pens to mark the ballot papers,” he said. The Elections Commissioner said ballot papers which were marked otherwise would be rejected. “The ballot papers which are marked in more..

Septuagenarian who set himself alight dies

Jan 7 (Island) A 72-year-old man who set fire to himself at the Vihara Mahadevi Park on Monday morning, had succumbed to his injuries that night. He was identified as Jinadasa Perera of No. 16, Jaya Mawatha, Kottawa, Pannipitiya. Cinnamon Gardens Police investigating the incident had taken statements from his wife and daughter and handed over the body to the family after the inquest. Police officer said about 40% of his body including his face, arms and legs had been severely burnt. more..

Sri Lanka take Malinga gamble for World Cup

Jan 7 (CI) Lasith Malinga has been included in Sri Lanka's World Cup fifteen subject to fitness. Sri Lanka named an almost identical squad to the one that will play an ODI series in New Zealand later this month - the exception is fast bowler Shaminda Eranga, who has been left out. Malinga had undergone surgery on a troubled left ankle in September, and missed Sri Lanka's one-dayers against India and England after that, more..

SL winner must address Tamil issue: BJP

Jan 7 (IANS) The winner of the Sri Lankan presidential election Thursday must first address the Tamil issue, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Vijay Jolly said. "Whoever wins in Sri Lanka should first address the Tamil issue," he said, wishing "all the best" to both President Rajapaksa and the opposition candidate Maithripala Sirisena. He said a peaceful, free and fair election was necessary for democracy in Sri Lanka. "The devolution of powers, re-starting dialogue with TNA leaders more..

UNP raids house in Panagoda to search ballot papers & boxes

Jan 7 (AM) A group of UNP representatives today inspected a house adjacent to the Army camp in Panagoda in search of fake ballot papers and ballot boxes. UNP Provincial Councilor Manju Sri Arangla and a group of representatives from ‘Sirikotha’, the UNP headquarters, got involved in the ‘raid’ which was carried out with the assistance of Police. A representative of ‘Sirikotha’ said they did not find anything from the house although there were a few suspicious signs. more..

Sri Lanka's election could change everything... and nothing

Jan 7 (C4) The incumbent, President Rajapaksa, is engaged in a desperate fight for his political life in an election which just a few months ago seemed to be his for the taking. It should all have been so different. Rajapaksa, previously PM of Sri Lanka, became president in 2005 in an election in which he won just over 50% of the votes. But within a couple of years of taking power he embarked on a process which was more..

Geneva probe: GL counters Opposition argument

Jan 7 (Island) Minister G.L. Peiris alleged that some Opposition members had rushed to the conclusion that incumbent President Rajapaksa would be found guilty of war crimes on the basis of on-going external investigation undertaken consequent to a US-sponsored resolution adopted in March last year. 25 countries backed the resolution titled ‘Promoting Reconciliation and Accountability in Sri Lanka’. As many as 12 EU member countries and those seeking EU membership threw more..

Appellate Court refuses to set aside restraining orders on Janapathi Janahamuwa

Jan 7 (AM) Civil Appellate High Court today refused application of ITN and Rupavahini to set aside the restraining order of Kaduwela Magistrate, preventing them from telecasting Janapathi Janahamuwa programme. Having heard lengthy submissions, the court decided that it could not set aside the enjoining order at this stage and said it would be giving a ruling on January 12 on preliminary objections raised by the lawyers of the Common Candidate of the opposition. more..

Vatican team in Sri Lanka on Friday

Jan 7 (CG) A Vatican advance team is due to arrive in Colombo on Friday for the final preparations prior to the arrival of Pope Francis to Sri Lanka. On the invitation of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, His Holiness Pope Francis will pay a State Visit to Sri Lanka from 13th to 15th January. External Affairs Ministry said that the govt and people of Sri Lanka are looking forward to warmly welcoming His Holiness and his delegation. more..

JVP to place agents in polling booths

Jan 7 (CT) The JHU and JVP have come to an agreement where the JVP would send its agents to polling booths to monitor the polls. JHU General Secretary, Champika Ranawaka, said it was the JVP who could most successfully tackle the violence and intimidation at local level. "We have asked the JVP to intervene to ensure security at the polling stations and they have agreed to do so. We believe that it is the JVP cadres who would be most suitable to tackle intimidation," he said. more..