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Sri Lankan election upset a blow to China’s Indian ocean plans

Jan 9 (BN) Mahinda Rajapaksa, who tightened ties with China during his decade-long rule, conceded defeat today in Sri Lanka’s closely-fought presidential election. His successor Maithripala Sirisena used his campaign to criticize the island nation’s increasing economic dependence on China. “In public, Beijing will likely express willingness to establish good relations with the new government,” said Zhang Guihong, a professor at more..

China, friend of Rajapaksa, pledges to build ties with new Sri Lanka govt

Jan 9 (IT) China, which significantly deepened its economic and strategic presence in Sri Lanka during the tenure of outgoing President Rajapaksa, on Friday congratulated President-elect Maithripala Sirisena on his election victory and said it "hopes and believes" the new govt "will carry on friendly policies towards China". Beijing also responded to criticism of its projects in the island nation - most prominently voiced by Sirisena more..

Sri Lanka decides

Jan 9 (DM) Thankfully, yesterday’s crucial presidential election to a great extent was free, fair and peaceful with a relatively high turnout of between 70% and 75%. Significantly, the turnout in the five districts of the Northern Province -- Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Mannar, Vavuniya and Mullaithivu -- was double that of the previous presidential election of 2010, while in the Hambantota District it had dropped from 80% in 2010 to 70% yesterday. Some analysts saw this high turnout in more..

After crucial poll, priority for good governance

Jan 9 (DM) A crucial election held, a winner declared, what’s next? The way forward is not victory celebrations or taking political revenge. What Sri Lanka badly needs today is a civilised political culture. The task should begin now to take the country towards a political culture where people will have no reason to doubt the integrity of the elections commissioner, the police chief and other state and military officials. The manner in which the Elections Commissioner handled presidential election more..

'Govt machinery falls under purview of the Election Commissioner'

Jan 9 (DM) Damaso Magbual, an international election observer from the Asian Network of Free and Fair Elections (ANFREL) stressed the need to enact a strong election campaign finance law in Sri Lanka. He said the organisations concerned did not have parameters to define ‘electoral violence’. Q: Your group has monitored the election for more than one week now. How do you analyse the situation in terms of violence more..

ABB bags Rs 256-crore order in Sri Lanka

Jan 9 (PTI) Power and automation technology firm ABB has bagged a contract worth Rs 256 crore from the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) to supply two 220 kV substations and upgrade an existing substation in Sri Lanka. The new substations will be constructed at Polpitiya in the Central Province and Padukka near the capital, Colombo, in the Western Province, while the existing substation at Pannipitiya, a suburb of Colombo, will be augmented, a release issued here said today. more..

TNA congratulates Maithri

Jan 9 (DM) Extending its ‘warmest congratulations’ to President-Elect Maithripala Sirisena, Tamil National Alliance (TNA) said it was essential to resolve the national question urgently while tackling the grave matters that face the country. TNA leader R. Samanthan said in a statement that his party extended its sincere thanks to all Sri Lankans especially those in the Northern and Eastern Provinces for extending their overwhelming support to President-Elect at the request of the TNA. more..

Sri Lanka stocks climb to 4-year high on Sirisena’s surprise win

Jan 9 (BN) Sri Lanka’s benchmark stock index rose to the highest level in almost four years and the currency gained after President Rajapaksa conceded defeat in an election that ended his decade-long rule. Incoming President Maithripala Sirisena campaigned on a pledge to end nepotism and corruption, ensure religious harmony and wean the nation away from dependence on funding from China. Rajapaksa had cut fuel and power more..

Lasantha's brother renews call for impartial inquiry into murder

Jan 9 (AM) A candlelight vigil will be held today at 5:30 p.m. in Attidiya at the place where The Sunday Leader Editor Lasantha Wickrematunge was killed on 8 Jan 2009. At the vigil, Lasantha's brother Lal, who set up the paper with Lasantha, will address those gathered. Asserting that investigating Lasantha's murder will be the first step towards achieving justice, Lal Wickramatunga said he would make a fresh call today for an impartial inquiry into Lasantha's brutal murder. more..

Sri Lanka's great change: president out, challenger in

Jan 9 (HT) It was the longest night Sri Lanka has seen in recent years. Millions of Sri Lankans stayed glued to computers and television screens from late evening to get--first postal votes and then district-wise--the results of Thursday's presidential election. Early Friday, outside a large house in Colombo's Wijerama Mawatha, where the oppositional presidential candidate Maithripala Sirisena has his office and residence, there was an eruption of fireworks accompanied by more..

S&P raises concerns over spending plans of new Sri Lanka President

Jan 9 (EN) The election of a new president in Sri Lanka who is backed by parties with diverse economic policies with promises of high spending amid low revenues could cause uncertainty, Standard & Poor's, a rating agency said. "The opposition's coalition parties have not agreed on a common approach to economic policy," S&P said in a statement. "In the run-up to the elections, Sirisena also promised to expand subsidies more..

Industry sees betterment of India-SL ties

Jan 9 (BS) The Indian industry doing business in Sri Lanka expects that the new regime in Sri Lanka would be more India freindly and bring in more developments. An industry expert, on condition of anonymity, said that the new govt might be more favourable to the Indian govt, which would in a way positive to the Indian industry. However, one has to wait and watch what the real actions to come in the near future before coming to conclusion, he cautioned. more..

Sonia congratulates new Lanka President

Jan 9 (PTI) Congress President Sonia Gandhi today congratulated Maithripala Sirisena for his "historic" victory in the Sri Lankan presidential polls even as her party spokesperson ridiculed outgoing President Mahinda Rajapaksa and sought to equate him with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Applauding the commitment of the Sri Lankan people to democracy, Gandhi in a message extended her good wishes to the President elect for his future endeavors towards their welfare and unity. more..

Cabraal – Dilan step down: Dr. PB leaves for Singapore

Jan 9 (AM) Central Bank Governor Ajith Nivad Cabraal and Foreign Employment Minister Dilan Perera have decided to step down from their portfolios following the appointment of the new President. Their decisions are aimed at making way for the new President to appoint suitable people for their positions. Meanwhile, it is learnt that Treasury Secretary Dr. P.B. Jayasuriya, had also left the country a day before the presidential election. more..

'Sirisena's election an opportunity for a fresh foreign policy'

Jan 9 (Hindu) The election of President Maithripala Sirisena in a peaceful democratic process is a welcome opportunity to forge afresh a coherent, consistent and balanced foreign policy based on the permanent national interests of Sri Lanka and executed with professional competence. Sri Lanka can now return to its traditional non-aligned foreign policy maintaining friendly relations with its Asian neighbours, especially with India with whom we have been closely linked through geo-politics, more..

'Anti-Rajapaksa vote, not pro-Sirisena'

Jan 9 (Hindu) I interpret the heavy voter turn out in the Tamil majority areas of Sri Lanka as a negative vote cast against Mahinda Rajapaksa. The vote was a condemnation of his conduct of the war and his anti-Tamil policies in the post-war context. I do not think that the Tamil vote can be understood as a positive endorsement of Maithripala Sirisena's candidacy. The Tamil people are skeptical about Mr. Sirisena delivering on any of the key Tamil demands - a political solution to the ethnic conflict more..

Punish Mahinda Rajapaksa: TN parties

Jan 9 (IANS) MDMK and the PMK said on Friday that outgoing Sri Lankan president Rajapaksa must be tried for war crimes. MDMK general secretary Vaiko also urged president-elect Maithripala Sirisena to free all Tamils from prisons. Tamil Nadu’s political parties along with rights groups have accused Rajapaksa of killing thousands of Tamils in the end stages of the war that destroyed the Tamil Tigers in May 2009. more..

The road ahead for Maithripala Sirisena

Jan 9 (Hindu) With power being concentrated in the Rajapaksa brothers for nine years, the hands of the police force in Sri Lanka were allegedly tied during the previous regime, especially when it came to acting against ruling party supporters and unruly groups that enjoyed state patronage then. The new President will have to infuse independence and autonomy in the functioning of the police and rein in anti-minority groups like the BBS. A major factor that discredited the Rajapaksa regime was more..

Reading the Sri Lankan vote

Jan 9 (Hindu) After his dramatic defeat in the post-war elections of 1945, British PM Winston Churchill said that the vote against him had shown that the “people of Britain are facing that new era with the same courage as they faced the long years of war." It wouldn’t be an overstatement to say that the people of SL, too, have shown exemplary courage with this election in which President Rajapksa has been defeated, surprising many and proving that their vote cannot be taken for granted. more..

'Sri Lanka should build on genuine, effective reconciliation base'

Jan 9 (PTI) India today welcomed completion of a peaceful and democratic poll process in Sri Lanka and hoped that the new govt will develop the country on the "foundation of genuine and effective reconciliation" creating harmony between all sections there. "Sri Lanka has a tradition of democratic change to peaceful elections. Our leadership has congratulated the people of SL on completion of yet another peaceful polls. more..

Three arrested in TN for trying to smuggle 140kg of ganja to Sri Lanka

Jan 9 (TOI) Three men from Madurai who attempted to smuggle 140 kilograms of ganja to Sri Lanka via Devipattinam in Ramanathapuram district were arrested by the Q branch of the Tamil Nadu police on Friday. Vijaykumar (30), son of Rengasamy of Simmakkal in Madurai, Ramanathan alias Samy (40), son of Bose of Villapuram, and Murugesan, son of Muniyandi of Madasandu in Simmakkal, were intercepted when they were moving about suspiciously in Devipattinam. more..

Why Sri Lanka ousted Mahinda Rajapaksa

Jan 9 (HT) Thursday's presidential election in Sri Lanka was arguably one of the most important in the country's history. And its outcome on Friday determined that the creeping authoritarianism of Mahinda Rajapaksa and his family will not get institutionalised and further entrenched but called for opening up of the democratic political space. The results show that Sri Lanka would not like to continue on its path of a centralised rule, belligerent majoritarian nationalism and monoculturalism more..

Chinese president congratulates Sirisena

Jan 9 (IANS) Chinese President Xi Jinping Friday sent a congratulatory message to Maithripala Sirisena on his election as Sri Lanka's new head of state, pledging to promote the strategic cooperative partnership between the two countries. In the message, Xi said China and Sri Lanka were traditional friendly neighbours, and relations between the two countries have withstood the test of time since establishment of diplomatic ties, more..

For China, a new leader in Sri Lanka may herald a change in ties

Jan 9 (NYT) Last January, Sri Lanka’s health minister, Maithripala Sirisena, joined his colleagues in toasting the Chinese New Year at a red-lantern-festooned gala featuring performances of the songs “Love My China” and “Mother Sri Lanka” and hosted by the Chinese Embassy in Colombo. But today, with Mr. Sirisena the surprise victor in Sri Lanka’s presidential election, Chinese leaders are likely to be watching with some unease to see if he follows through on a campaign promise to more..

New govt must make human rights a priority after mostly peaceful vote: AI

Jan 9 (AI) Sri Lanka’s new govt must urgently address a legacy of pressing human rights issues left by the previous administration, Amnesty International said. Outgoing President Rajapaksa today conceded defeat to the joint opposition candidate Maithripala Sirisena, who won the presidential poll with 51.3% of the vote. “Although the campaign was marked by intimidation and attacks primarily against opposition campaigners, it was heartening to see the election day more..

Video: President Rajapaksa says delivered what he promised

Jan 9 (LBO) Outgoing president Mahinda Rajapaksa says he bows down to people’s choice as he wants to uphold what he promised. “2005 Mahinda Chintana says a ruler is only a temporary trustee and not an owner of this country. This is the time that promise will be fulfilled”, Rajapaksa said. Earlier in the day President Rajapaksa left Temple Trees. Rajapaksa also bid a farewell to his cabinet members, personal and office staff before more..

Pope to visit Sri Lanka despite Rajapakse defeat

Jan 9 (ANTARA) The Catholic church Friday reiterated that Pope Francis will go ahead with his visit to Sri Lanka next week despite the change of govt in Colombo following a snap election. Colombo-based Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith appealed for "peace and order" after Mahinda Rajapakse was defeated by his former health minister and opposition candidate Maithripala Sirisena. "We earnestly appeal to all Sri Lankans to help make this visit of Holy Father (from Jan 13 to 15) a success more..

UK congratulates new Sri Lankan President

Jan 9 (FCO) UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said: “I commend the people of Sri Lanka on the successful completion of their elections and offer my congratulations to Maithripala Sirisena. Sri Lanka has a renewed opportunity now to grow as a stable, prosperous and inclusive country, reflecting the wishes of all its people. All candidates and parties deserve praise for the peaceful transfer of power, as do the SL Elections Commissioner, authorities and civil society for enabling people to more..

Maithripala and Ranil take oaths

Jan 9 (CG) Maithripala Sirisena took oaths as the sixth President of Sri Lanka at Independence square this evening while UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe took oaths as the PM. Sirisena took oaths in front of Justice K. Sripavan and not Chief Justice Mohan Peiris. Addressing the Nation after taking oaths, Sirisena said that he will not seek a second term in office. Sirisena thanked the public, former President Chandrika Kumaratunga, more..

The fall of Mahinda and The end of history

Jan 10 (CT) Having argued for years that (a) Sri Lanka under Mahinda Rajapaksa is no dictatorship but a unipolar democracy because of the meltdown of the centre-right UNP under its leader Ranil Wickremesinghe, and (b) that the Opposition should put forward a liberal nationalist instead, my perspective has been at least partly vindicated. Why then was Mr. Sirisena my second choice rather than my first? An obvious reason is the Ranil-Chandrika factor (or factors). more..

A revolution of two sorts in the offing

Jan 10 (CT) I sense that the year 2015 will be written in history as a watershed year of considerable importance for Sri Lanka. In two ways. Firstly, it will mark the liberation of the people of the island from a decade of authoritarian rule that had intermittent marks of tyranny. A third term for Mahinda Rajapaksa would have, perhaps, led to the worsening of the tyrannical elements of his ruling style. Of course, he wore a smiling face. Of course, he kissed babies and embraced old folk. more..

National highways: The true story

Jan 10 (SO) Multilateral and bilateral convention donors offer around US$ 200 m to US$300 m per annum for the highways sector in compliance with its eligibility and procurement guidelines. However, the funding provisions are not sufficient to carry out a large scale accelerated development program. The predicament is whether we should open up other avenues to obtain funding with appropriate regulatory measures to achieve more..

No freedom fighters today, only criminals

Jan 10 (CT) When Sri Lankans joined the Indian National Army under Subhas Chandra Bose they became freedom fighters, because Bose fought not only for India but for Ceylon also. We all had freedom fighters like Keppetipola in the Uva rebellion. Then came the JVP and the LTTE who called themselves freedom fighters. They later developed to be criminals. Since 1739, in the Kandyan Kingdom the throne had been occupied by the Nayakkar dynasty of Madura. more..

Positives for Sri Lanka amid inconsistent performances

Jan 10 (CI) Kumar Sangakkara (215 runs at 53.75, 1 century) Was swung twice cheaply by Trent Boult at Hagley Oval, but then he did what Sangakkara does. He went to the nets, took his game apart and came back with a strategy that produced an innings of outstanding value at the Basin Reserve, contributing 203 of the team's 356. He was unhappy with the DRS decision that brought his overseas Test career to a close in the second innings. He was, at times, also poor in the field, more..

Two big surprises in Sri Lanka’s World Cup selection

Jan 10 (KT) Sri Lanka squad for the World Cup 2015 contained two big surprises for me: the absence of opener Upul Tharanga and the inclusion of Jeevan Mendis as a spin-bowling all-rounder. Tharanga’s omission shocked me. True, he had not been picked against England or New Zealand, but he has a decent One-Day International record, averaging just under 34, and he has the precious gift of experience, with 176 matches more..

Does SL need an Executive Presidency

Jan 10 (CT) There has been much talk about the Executive Presidency, its merits and demerits. For some time now there has been a call to abolish the Executive Presidential system, which concentrates all power in the hands of a single individual. Ceylon Today publishes today the views of President's Counsel Manohara de Silva and leading academic Dr. Nirmal Ranjith Dewasiri. We have faced a serious historic issue. Does this country actually need an executive presidency? more..

Civil society role and presidential elections

Jan 10 (SL) The issue of civil society participation in the political process was addressed by the head of the country’s largest civil society organisation at an urgently convened media conference on New Year’s Day. At a time when politicians are changing sides, and there are declarations of support from various groups to the rival presidential candidates, Sarvodaya leader A T Ariyaratne’s media conference was well attended. But there was no endorsement of either candidate as more..

Dr. PB recaps recent economic achievements and future challenges

Jan 10 (FT) The person – Dr. P.B. Jayasundera or the post he holds – Secretary to Ministry of Finance and Planning – are not very popular in many circles. However, he has been one of the longest-serving Treasury secretaries. He had served under three Finance Ministers and two Executive Presidents after a long career at the Central Bank. Critics would pin the blame on Secretary for macroeconomic ills and policy slips. more..

The south voted on economy, north on lack of rehabilitation

Jan 10 (TOI) For many, it was not Mahinda Rajapaksa's India or China policy that mattered. What caused concern to them was domestic factors like unemployment, price rise, economic growth and corruption. "Though the Rajapaksa govt attempted some infrastructure development like laying roads and railway lines, growth did not reach the poor. Exports continued to decline. Nothing was done to create jobs," K Amirthalingam, faculty of economics in Colombo University, told TOI. more..

Developmental state as a model in a post-war economy

Jan 10 (Island) The general theme of the conference is of great importance not only to the subject of economics in which almost no attention has been given to conflicts but also to Sri Lanka as the country that has been undergoing a long process of transforming war-torn economy, particularly in the North and East. The principal thesis that I am trying to foreground in this talk can be summarized as follows: Transforming conflicts needs continuous focus and systematic interventions on more..