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SL opposition backs anti-corruption probes

Jan 7 (FT) Sri Lanka’s opposition has outlined plans for a wave of anti-corruption investigations targeting Chinese-funded infrastructure projects, while pledging to repair relations with the west if it wins power in the country’s election on Thursday. Two-term incumbent President Rajapaksa faces possible defeat after a closely-fought campaign marred by claims of violence and intimidation, with many analysts predicting a narrow opposition victory. But Ranil Wickremasinghe, head of the country’s more..

Video: Maximum power against violence: EC

Jan 7 (DM) Commissioner of Elections Mahinda Deshapriya today said the Police could use maximum power to stop any forceful act that could be carried out by any persons at polling stations during tomorrow’s Presidential election. Asked whether the Police could shoot any perpetrator below the knees, he said the Police could shoot right on the head. “Police could take such action if any one tries to grab ballot papers away,” he said. more..

The change we need

Jan 8 (GV) I just returned from a two-week stay in Sri Lanka with a mix of very different experiences. Since I have never done a proper meditation retreat in Sri Lanka, I stayed at Kanduboda International Vipassana Meditation Centre for six days, waking up at 4am to follow a well articulated daily routine of meditation practice and going to bed at 10pm each day. I felt those six days on ten-precepts to be the biggest gift I could give myself during the stay. Soon after, I got busy attending and more..

Letter to all expatriates who support MR

Jan 8 (CT) Dear friends; (I have not called you Sri Lankans on purpose) I can understand why you are devout disciples of MR! The main reason being the routing of the LTTE! I applaud you on that, although I feel he was only a passive passenger in the process, that was animated by the poor low rung soldiers, middle rung, area commanders, commanders in chief of the forces especially Sarath Fonseka, and of course Gota who gave authority and probably was part of the strategy. more..

Lasantha was murdered on the 8th of January; Let us pray for our nation

Jan 8 (CT) Each year since 2009 friends, colleagues and family gather at Lasantha‘s grave site to pay homage to a fallen hero. It is human nature to revere a person after his death. This is more so in Sri Lanka. Whilst alive practicing his profession Lasantha was vilified, assaulted tied up in a myriad of litigation and finally assaulted. He died defending his right to express an opinion as is enshrined in our Constitution and to lay forth more..

The moment, opportunity and the possibility for change

Jan 8 (CT) The moment and opportunity have arrived! Sri Lankans are going to the polling booths across the country on this 8th day of Jan 2015 to elect their next President for a six-year term. The opportunity for voting arrived quite unexpectedly toward the end of last year with much speculation about the possibility of a snap election following UVA PC elections. No one, I repeat, no one except a few leaders in the opposition coalition would have anticipated what was to come on more..

Sri Lanka economist wants culture of open dialog on economy after elections

Jan 8 (EN) With Sri Lanka heading into presidential polls Thursday, a senior economist and head of economic policy think tank Institute of Policy Studies said the country must foster a culture of open dialog. “Whoever comes to power we need to foster a culture of dialog and debate," Saman Kelegama, an Oxford-educated economist said. "There is thesis and antithesis and these create synthesis. Without this we cannot fully understand the economic problems the country is facing, more..

'Joint Opposition turns into advocates of good governance'

Jan 8 (SO) Senior Minister Dr. Sarath Amunugama said that the 'good governance' talk was not genuine in the least. We have to confront this as an international political threat directed at President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Because they want to make an example of him. He said "While we are all for good governance, we should not be foolish enough to take this slogan seriously and destabilise our country". more..

As the victor

Jan 8 (NS) Victory speeches are long. Statements from the defeated camp are also long. They usually consist of a lot of homilies, chest-beating and finger-pointing. It’s quite alright and even necessary to thank those who helped. A bit of chest-beating is allowed; so too the articulation of reasons for defeat. Troop morale has to be maintained, after all. But there are things that don’t get scripted into such speeches. ‘The Nation’ offers a few suggestions which cannot hurt anyone, more..

As the defeated

Jan 8 (NS) We are all born, we are subject to decay, we die. None of us are immortal. We rise, we fall. This is not the first time I have tasted defeat. Of course it is not an eventuality that I envisaged, but neither is it an outcome that I cannot accept. I lost. The people of this country were called upon to assess my work and to show confidence on my ability to lead them into the future. They made a decision. I accept their verdict in all humility. I must say that I cannot think of any other person more..

The Crossover Files

Jan 8 (NS) The general public has the supreme power to elect members to Parliament where rules and regulations are made to administer the country. While sending their representatives to the Parliament, the people also exercise their choice on political parties or organizations. However, it has become a practice of politicians to cross over to another party after being elected. So far, this presidential election has more..

MR's third presidential poll

Jan 8 (CT) The hectic presidential election campaign ended at midnight Monday. Now it's the turn of the election monitors to assess the conduct the of tomorrow's poll. Many foreign polls observers are here from different bodies in the world. The Commonwealth has sent former Guyanese President Bharvat Jagdeo who limited the passage of the presidency in that country to two terms and signed that Constitutional Decree. Having completed his second term in office as President, more..

Missed opportunities: My reflections

Jan 8 (GV) I belong to a generation of Sri Lankans who witnessed many missed opportunities. Opportunities to stand proud as a nation, to grow politically and socially as a people, to prosper economically. Many of these opportunities defined by a political event, missed because of political will or lack of it. Missed because we permitted politicians to usurp the power that is rightly ours. Most often electing them and then allowing them to do as they please. more..

Observers demand 200 buses

Jan 8 (CT) The Association of Asian Election Authorities (AAEA), headed by Former Chief Elections Commissioner of India, Dr. S.Y. Quraishi, urged the Elections Commissioner to immediately deploy 200 buses for nearly 12,000 IDPs, living in Puttalam and whose polling stations are in different GS divisions of Vavuniya. His team visited an IDP camp in Puttalam and found that a number of voters, nearly 12,000 had to travel 100km more..

Editorial: Let democracy triumph

Jan 8 (Island) Today’s presidential election is different from all the electoral contests we have had since Independence. One camp backed by various forces, both internal and external, is striving for a regime change through electoral means while the other is resisting that move tooth and nail. The competition may also be viewed as a clash between two political families, one from Horagolla and the other from Medamulana, with others drawn into their battle for supremacy. more..

It’s Rajapaksa vs. anti-incumbency

Jan 8 (Hindu) Nearly 15 million voters in Sri Lanka will go to polls on Thursday, delivering their verdict on whether President Mahinda Rajapaksa will obtain his dream third term, or make way for his chief rival Maithripala Sirisena. The contest for the island’s eighth presidential election began in November when incumbent Rajapaksa called snap polls, two years ahead of schedule. With no serious contender at that time, he was eyeing an unprecedented third term in office, least expecting his own more..

Sri Lanka presidential election brings country to crossroads

Jan 8 (Reuters) President Rajapaksa has urged voters to back the devil they know, and hand him a third term when they go to the polls today, rather than an unknown angel who promises to root out corruption and political decay. There have been no reliable opinion polls ahead of the vote, but many believe opposition candidate Mithripala Sirisena will quash Rajapaksa's bid for re-election and change country's direction. more..

Sirisena’s younger brother arrested, enlarged on bail

Jan 8 (Island) A younger brother of NDF presidential candidate Maithripala Sirisena was arrested and produced in court by the police over his alleged involvement in an attack on a ruling party Pradeshiya Sabha member’s house, at Aralaganwila. SSP Ajith Rohana said that the suspect had been arrested on Tuesday and released on the same day. Earlier reports said that a mob led by presidential election candidate’s brother Kaplia Sirisena had attacked the residence of more..

On Sri Lanka, ICP asks UN of violence after opposition supporter killed

Jan 8 (ICP) Amid attacks on opponents of Mahinda Rajapaksa in Sri Lanka in the run-up to elections, now leading directly to at least one death, ICP on Jan 7 asked UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Stephane Dujarric: Inner City Press: I wanted to ask you this about the elections in Sri Lanka because the Secretary-General had earlier made this call to G.L. Peiris. Now, with the election right around the corner, one of the opposition supporters has now been killed. more..

Battle for Sri Lanka power pits President against former friend

Jan 8 (BN) Sri Lankans will decide today whether to extend President Rajapaksa’s decade-long rule or hand power to a former ally in an election race that has become surprisingly close in the past month. Rajapaksa, 69, called the election in November two years ahead of schedule in a bid to consolidate power after his party saw its popularity fall in recent by-elections. Maithripala Sirisena, 63, deserted the president’s camp more..

President condemns Paris attack

Jan 8 (CG) President Rajapaksa has condemned the terrorist attack at the headquarters of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris in which 12 people were killed. President said that the incident showed that the world needs to come together to fight all forms of terrorism wherever it happens. Foreign news agencies said that two gunmen opened fire at the headquarters of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris hours after the magazine published a cartoon of ISIS more..

Two-year jail for five Lankan Tamils

Jan 8 (Hindu) The local Judicial Magistrate court has convicted and awarded two years imprisonment to five Sri Lankan Tamils, including two women, who had clandestinely arrived in Dhanushkodi with their five children in May, seeking refugee status. After completion of the trial on Tuesday, Magistrate Saravanakumar held them guilty under the Passport Rules and Foreigners Act and awarded one-year imprisonment, each under the two acts. The Magistrate, who imposed a fine of Rs.100 more..

Will Sri Lanka elect the Devil it knows?

Jan 8 (TNY) If a Presidential candidate refers to himself as a devil, chances are he’s in trouble. Last week, campaigning ahead of this Thursday’s election, Mahinda Rajapaksa, the incumbent Sri Lankan President, tried hard to endear himself to an audience in the northern city of Jaffna. The crowd consisted almost entirely of Tamils, the island’s largest minority, a community that regards him with suspicion and anger. more..

Trains, buses run as usual

Jan 8 (Island) Sri Lanka Railways said that the trains would run as per the normal timetable today on all lines in spite of the presidential election. The trains on coastal, Northern and upcountry lines would run as normal. There were no special trains planned. However, the train services along the upcountry line continued to be restricted to Bandarawela due to landslides and rock slides between Bandarawela and Badulla. Railway employees had been assigned to carry out repair work more..

Sri Lanka's last-minute contender

Jan 8 (AJ) The race to choose Sri Lanka's next president has captured the imagination of the island's population. Varied assignments have taken me to different parts of the country in recent weeks and the most common question I've been asked is "What do you think?" That level of interest is across the board, from a fisherman in Jaffna, tsunami survivor in Batticaloa, a carpenter in the South and a farmer in the North Central province – it is the same curiosity. more..

Sri Lanka: Test for triumphalism

Jan 8 (FT) The Port of Colombo ranks among the busiest in south Asia, with gigantic red and yellow cranes shifting millions of tonnes of cargo annually, roughly half of which heads north to neighbouring India. But on an otherwise quiet day last September, Indian authorities discovered that a less welcome visitor had slipped into Sri Lanka’s busiest harbour: Great Wall 0329, a Chinese military submarine. more..

Police stern on spurious vehicles

Jan 8 (DM) Vehicles not possessing proper registration would be taken into custody on sight and action would be taken against the driver of the vehicle, the Police said today. The Police said any vehicle without a number plate; without a registered number plate; with false number plate; number plates which aren’t visible and vehicles which possessed false VIP and VVIP labels would be taken into Police custody on sight. A total 71, 100 Policemen are currently on duty island-wide. more..

Sri Lanka Poll: Status Quo for India

Jan 8 (ENS) The presidential elections on Thursday are likely to be a closely contested affair between president Mahinda Rajapaksa and Maithripala Sirisena, the main opposition candidate and until weeks ago the health minister and secretary general of the ruling SLFP. Rajpaksa’s decision to hold the elections nearly two years before they are due, for his third term, was taken in the hope of being able to cash in on a divided opposition and squeeze out the benefit still available from more..

Activists now get death threats

Jan 8 (CG) Three local activists, including two who this week found the severed heads of dogs near their gates, have now been threatened with death, a London based human rights group said. Amnesty International said that Sri Lankan authorities must hold to account those who threatened three prominent activists with death. Opposition campaigners Brito Fernando, Phillip Dissanayake and Prasanga Fernando – who more..

Presidential poll leaves hospitals in difficulty

Jan 8 (Island) National Hospital Director, Dr. Anil Jasinghe said there was a severe shortage of staff as many voters had left for their villages in view of the presidential election. He said a majority of minor employees at the NH were not from Colombo. The health workers were not eligible for postal voting, he added. "However, we will have to manage with the available staff for two days." Director of the Jaffna Teaching Hospital, Dr. Bawani Pasubathiraja said her institution was facing difficulties with more..

IGP told to deploy STF in Hali-Ela

Jan 8 (CT) Deploy STF in Hali-Ela, Opposition political parties told the Inspector General of Police, on Tuesday as violence increased. Hali-Ela was gripped in continuing violence aimed at the Opposition and on Tuesday two shops were destroyed by a group in passing vehicles. This led to Opposition members asking the District Returning Officer of Badulla to deploy the STF and maintain stability in the area. UNP Uva Provincial Councillor, Jayantha Kannangara had requested more..

Sri Lanka vote chief probes army deployment

Jan 8 (AFP) Sri Lanka's election commission said it was investigating claims of troops being deployed in the Tamil-dominated north ahead of a tightly-fought election, as police reported the first campaign-related death. Election commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya said there had been complaints that security forces were deploying in the northern Wanni region, in contravention of election laws. Wanni was part of the war zone more..

No bodyguards at polling booths

Jan 8 (CT) No bodyguards of any politician, irrespective of his/ her status, or armed individuals, will be allowed to enter polling booths, said Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya. He added that he had given instructions to the IGP to exercise his full powers against violence that erupts within the polling booth or within a radius of 500 metres of such booths. Entering the polling centres with mobile phones and cameras, as well as taking photographs are also forbidden, he pointed out. more..

SL votes in tightest election in decades

Jan 8 (AFP) Sri Lanka goes to the polls Thursday in its tightest election in decades, with its strongman president battling for survival after accusations of corruption and a failure to bring about national reconciliation. Mahinda Rajapakse appeared assured of victory when he called snap polls in November, seeking an unprecedented third term in office five years after crushing a violent separatist rebellion that had traumatised the country for decades. more..

Discouraging Northern electorate: Army rejects poll monitors’ allegations

Jan 8 (Island) The armed forces wouldn’t be deployed in the Northern Province or any other part of the country for today’s presidential poll unless police headquarters requested for assistance, Military Spokesman Brig. Ruwan Wanigasooriya said yesterday. "The armed forces will be confined to barracks", he stressed. He was responding to accusations made by the CMEV at the Tuesday’s media briefing in Colombo. more..

US urges Sri Lanka to conduct fair, peaceful elections

Jan 8 (KUNA) The US urged the govt in Sri Lanka to conduct elections "free from violence," amidst a wave of attacks and death threats against opposition activists in the country, as documented by the human rights group Amnesty International. "The United States supports a free and fair electoral process in Sri Lanka that is credible, peaceful and inclusive," State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki told reporters. She said Secretary of State John Kerry called President Rajapaksa more..

Telecom CEO dismisses website claim

Jan 8 (Island) Sri Lanka Telecom CEO Lalith de Silva rejected a claim made by a website that those who were aware of the password of Sri Lanka Telecom terminal line were in a position to change the result of tomorrow’s presidential election. Addressing a hurriedly summoned news conference at the SLT headquarters, De Silva said, "SLT adopts a tamper proof system using the best of technology and no one could manipulate it as the network password cannot change the contents." more..

Vote early!

Jan 8 (Island) Election Department has urged urged voters to exercise their franchise as early as possible and avoid disappointment. EC Mahinda Deshapriya said that country’s 7th Presidential Election would be conducted from 7am to 4pm today countrywide. No one was permitted to enter the polling stations other than registered voters, staff of the polling station, security officials, authorized election monitors & polling agents more..

Go and vote, what is at stake is your sovereignty

Jan 8 (DM) One of history’s greatest philosophers Aristotle has said that in a democracy the poor will have more power than the rich, because there are more of them, and the will of the majority is supreme. According to the well-known American author Louis L’Amour, to make democracy work, we must be participants, not simply observers. One who does not vote has no right to complain. On the other hand, disgraced Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, who dragged himself and more..

SWRD was born today

Jan 8 (DM) Volumes have been published; much spoken of his politics: now for a glimpse of his ancestry, and the student days. Three famous writers, including academic Yasmine Gooneratne, nee Bandaranaike, who happens to be a niece of S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike, in her book, ‘Relative Merits: A Personal Memoir of the Bandaranaike Family of Sri Lanka’; and Arnold Wright in his historic epic, ‘Twentieth Century Impressions of Ceylon’-1906 and another famous writer, more..