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Mahinda seeks unity within SLFP

Jan 16 (CG) Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa today called for unity with the SLFP as he hands over the party leadership to President Maithripala Sirisena. Rajapaksa said in a statement that having held the membership and various offices including the Party leadership, and having nurtured and safeguarded the Party with great dedication for over 50 years, he had taken the decision to hand it over to Sirisena as he has more..

Law should be no respecter of persons

Jan 16 (CT) The economic successes of Western democracies, including Australia and New Zealand and First World democracies in the East such as Japan, Korea and Taiwan, were due to their commitment to the rule of law. It may be difficult to classify growing economies in South East (SE) Asia such as Singapore and Malaysia in this genre because those are semi-autocracies, not dissimilar to what Sri Lanka was, till but a week ago. Further, Singapore is more akin to being a city state more..

‘Mahinda lost SLFP chairmanship when Maithripala won presidential election’

Jan 16 (Island) Amidst reports that former President Mahinda Rajapaksa was to hand over the Chairmanship of the SLFP to President Maithripala Sirisena, an Ex-SLFPer and lawyer said that it was not Mahinda’s prerogative. Newly appointed Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, who was a former SLFPer said that the SLFP constitution clearly stipulated that if any of its members became the President of the country that person automatically became the leader of the party. more..

Ada Cartoon

Meeting our demons head-on

Jan 16 (CT) On January 9th 2015, the day the presidential election results were announced in Sri Lanka I went out for a walk around 7 p.m. It was not a declared public holiday; nevertheless the streets were completely deserted to the level of it being virtually void of any single person on the road. I was strolling about 2 Km practically alone. As I was walking a thought occurred to me. Probably ever since the brutal war ended in the most gory manner sacrificing thousands of lives in 2009, more..

SL’s new president: An auspicious moment

Jan 16 (Economist) Sri Lanka's astrologers are probably not among those celebrating the country’s election result. It was after consultation with some of their profession that Mahinda Rajapaksa, the president, called an election for Jan 8th 2015, two years ahead of schedule. This turned out to be a big mistake. Mr Rajapaksa had ruled since 2005 and, along with his family, several members of which occupied the country’s most powerful posts, had given the impression of settling more..

Mystery kidney killer spreads fear in SL

Jan 16 (AP) Rajanganaya - It’s midmorning and hundreds of people are squeezed under a banyan tree’s shady canopy to have blood drawn by just three nurses, working assembly-line fast. Others wait outside this dusty rural health centre to get their vitals taken and give urine samples. Most of the 1,000 villagers have come here on foot and have stood for hours under the hot sun — not because they feel sick, but out of fear. more..

Election surprise opens window of change

Jan 16 (IWPR) Incumbent Mahinda Rajapaksa expected an easy win, but instead he was ousted by a candidate pledging to govern as “a servant, not an authoritarian”. There is cautious optimism in Sri Lanka that Maithripala Sirasena, who won a surprise victory in last week’s presidential election, could steer the country towards real change. Sirasena took 51% in the January 8 polls, defeating the incumbent Mahinda Rajapaksa, who was expecting an easy win given his ten years in power more..

WPC Chief Minister says no handing over of reins to another party

Jan 16 (Island) Western Province Chief Minister Prasanna Ranatunga insisted that UPFA held the majority in the council and there was no question of handing over the reins to another party as suggested by some sections of the media amidst a political storm prevailing in the country. "UPFA commands the support of 57 members and submitting affidavits pledging support to the Opposition would not have any effect in deciding who rules the council as per constitution more..

Video: NFF won’t join Govt. but support 100-day programme

Jan 16 (DM) NFF leader Wimal Weeranwansa said his party would not join the new government but would support its 100-day programme. “We cannot join President Miathripala Sirisena because we cannot agree with his policies. That is why we supported former president Mahinda Rajapaksa. We are not prepared to betray 5.7 million people who voted for Mr. Rajapaksa. But we will support the100-day programme more..

'Rapists will be prosecuted irrespective of positions'

Jan 16 (AM) State Minister of Child Development and UNP MP Rosy Senanayake said that all who deserve punishment would receive it under the administration of the new govt. “Corruption played a pivotal role under the Rajapaksa regime and no actions were taken against people who were responsible for certain despicable crimes”, she said while speaking to Sirasa TV. She added that people who were surrounding the Rajapaksas often took law unto themselves. more..

Sri Lanka EDB seeks agreement with China's Yunnan province

Jan 16 (EN) Sri Lanka's export promotion agency is to strike an agreement with China's Yunnan province seeking to increase exports from the island, especially of high-value products, a statement said. The Export Development Board said there was strong demand for Sri Lankan products from the province and during the annual Kunming international expo which also has a China - South Asia Exposition (CSAE) for the region's exporters. EDB Director General Sujatha Weerakoone more..

Verdict on the defeat according to left constituents of UPFA

Jan 16 (Island) Communist Party chief DEW Gunasekera alleged that a highly centralized SLFP propaganda project had contributed to President Rajapaksa’s defeat at the recently concluded presidential poll. Defeated UPFA candidate was seeking an unprecedented third term. Former senior minister Gunasekera alleged that the propaganda campaign carried out from Colombo had caused irreparable damage to the more..

Sri Lanka rupee forwards end weaker on importer dollar demand

Jan 16 (Reuters) Sri Lanka rupee forwards ended slightly weaker on Friday due to importer dollar demand, while exporters awaited clarity on economic policy from the newly elected government, led by President Maithripala Sirisena. Four-day forwards, which were actively traded, closed down at 132.35/45 per dollar compared with Tuesday's close of 132.25/35. The market was closed for a special holiday on Wednesday in view of Pope Francis' visit to Sri Lanka, more..

SL to review casino projects: new minister

Jan 16 (EN) Sri Lanka's new govt will not allow casino projects which are against the island's cultural and religious values, investmentments minister Kabir Hashim said. Sri Lanka had till now sold its tourism potential based on historical places and cultural attractions, he told reporter soon after assuming duties. "People came here to look at our rich culture," highways and investments minsiter Kabir Hashim said Friday after assuming duties. But in the last couple of years investors were more..

Sangakkara signs two-year Surrey deal

Jan 16 (CI) Kumar Sangakkara, the world's No. 1 Test batsman, has agreed a two-year deal with Surrey although how much he plays in 2015 will not be confirmed until Sangakkara makes a decision over his Test future. Sangakkara will end his ODI career after the World Cup and he has previously hinted strongly that it will mark the conclusion of his international days, although there remains a chance of a final spell in Test more..

‘UPFA – a Bright Future’ denies any affiliation with UPFA

Jan 16 (Island) The owners of Facebook account ‘UPFA – a Bright Future’ said it did not belong to the UPFA’s official Facebook and denied the allegation made by its General Secretary Susil Premajayantha that it had been hijacked. Last December Premjayantha alleged that then common opposition candidate President Maithripala Sirisena had hijacked their Facebook account. A team member of ‘UPFA-a Bright Future’ Facebook account Mahesh Madushanka said that more..

Sarana, Hemal likely to be arrested for assaulting UNPers

Jan 16 (CT) Police are likely to arrest former Deputy Ministers Sarana Gunawardena and Hemal Gunasekara and MP Arundika Fernando, for the alleged assault on UNPers at the Bandarawela Police station, during the Uva PC elections. SSP Ajith Rohana said that when the evidence leading to the assault is established, the three persons are likely to be arrested. UNP Mayor for Bandarawela Chaminda Wijesiri was allegedly attacked inside the Bandarawela police station by more..

SriLankan cuts MRIA operations

Jan 16 (CG) The new Govt has decided to cut SriLankan Airlines flights to and from Mahinda Rajapaksa International Airport (MRIA) in Mattala with effect from Feb 9. SriLankan airlines said that on the direction of the State Minister of Aviation Faizer Mustapha, SriLankan Airlines, has re-deployed its capacity and adjusted its scheduled operations to focus on more commercially sustainable services. more..

Nimal Siripala Appointed Opposition Leader

Jan 16 (AM) MP Nimal Siripala de Silva was appointed as opposition leader at the SLFP parliamentary group meeting today. Born in 1944, de Silva was Leader of the Opposition of the Colombo Municipal Council from 1983 to 1989. Elected as a Member of Parliament in 1989 from Colombo District and re-elected from the same District in 1994, he later contested and entered parliament from Badulla District. Meanwhile WDJ Seneviratne was appointed Chief opposition whip more..

Ranatunga vows Sri Lanka ports clean-up

Jan 16 (AFP) World Cup winning cricket skipper Arjuna Ranatunga began work Friday as ports and shipping minister after being appointed to new President Maithripala Sirisena's cabinet. The 51-year-old Ranatunga, dubbed Captain Cool after winning the 1996 World Cup, vowed to end a culture of backhanders that has given the island's ports an unenviable reputation as a hotbed of corruption. "I have a big responsibility to clean up this place," the portly Ranatunga said more..

Fonseka claims 2000 troops sent

Jan 16 (CG) Former army chief General Sarath Fonseka has claimed that former President Mahinda Rajapaksa had moved 2000 troops into Colombo three days before the results in an attempt to stage a coup. Fonseka said that troops brought in from the Northern Command were deployed in and around Colombo in two circles – one in the metropolitan area around Temple Trees, Rajapaksa’s official residence; and more..

Montero belonging to Ministry found at ex-PC member’s residence

Jan 16 (AD) A luxury vehicle belonging to the Ministry of Economic Development has been found hidden at a property owned by a former UPFA North Western PC member in Madurankuliya. The vehicle, a Mitsubishi Montero, was found by Mundalama Police, acting on information received. Police officer had visited the property last night to carry out a search of the house, however were unable to enter due to the padlocked gate. They had returned to the residence in the Kadayamatte area in more..

Left parties pay glowing tribute to polls chief, IGP

Jan 16 (Island) Socialist Alliance (SA) comprising the CP, LSSP and Democratic Left Front (DLF) said the crucial presidential election held on Jan 8, 2015, couldn’t have been brought to a peaceful conclusion if not for Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya and IGP N.K. Illangakoon. General Secretary of the CP and former minister DEW Gunasekera paid a glowing tribute to Deshapriya and Illangakoon on behalf of the SA. "We haven’t seen people like them in the recent past; more..

President Maithripala Sirisena appointed SLFP Chairman

Jan 16 (AD) President Maithripala Sirisena has been appointed as the Chairman of the SLFP, after former President Rajapaksa today agreed to handover the party’s leadership to his successor. Meanwhile MP Nimal Siripala de Silva has been appointed as the Opposition Leader and W D J Seneviratne as Chief Opposition Whip. Central Committee of the SLFP unanimously decided to appoint President Sirisena as its more..

Sajin denies owing Rs 170m to CPC; to take legal action

Jan 16 (AD) UPFA MP Sajin de Vass Gunawardena rejected allegations that he owes the CPC a sum of Rs 170 million for fuel supplied to a petrol station owned by him in Ambalangoda. It was reported yesterday that the CPC has refused to issue fuel to the petrol station which is said to have been owned a company linked to the well known politician of the former govt, due to his failure to pay the mammoth figure. There is no truth to these accusations, the former Monitoring MP said. more..

PM’s office now at Temple Trees

Jan 16 (CG) Prime Minister’s office has been moved to Temple Trees where former President Rajapaksa was earlier based. Under former President Rajapaksa the office of the Prime Minister was at Flower Road, but PM Ranil Wickremesinghe has shifted his office to Temple Trees. PM Ranil Wickremesinghe, today formally assumed duties at Temple Trees following religious observances. PM’s office however said that Wickremesinghe and his wife will not be staying at Temple Trees.

AG tells CID to probe alleged ‘coup’ plot

Jan 16 (AD) The Attorney General (AG) of Sri Lanka has instructed the CID to investigate a complaint regarding an alleged coup attempt by the country’s former President whilst the election results were been released on 9 January. New foreign minister Mangala Samaraweera yesterday lodged a complaint with the CID requesting an investigation into an alleged last-minute coup attempt by former President more..

The challenges before us

Jan 17 (SL) The most important issue facing the new President is to restore confidence in the governmental process. For this purpose it is necessary to establish systems that work according to the Rule of Law, and with full accountability to the people. In this respect it is vital that Parliamentary control of legislation and finances be restored. This does not mean strengthening an Executive based in Parliament, but rather strengthening Parliament to be an effective check on the Executive. more..

Opposition Wanted !

Jan 17 (CT) I was watching a political ‘debate’ on a private TV channel last night, but got entirely confused and frightened. What was used to be a heated debate earlier has turned out to be a non-debate, where all participants were taking a common stand having a free ride. Will this happen in Parliament also? I strongly felt that the program was missing something – what was it? An opposition. Where are the counter arguments? Who maintain checks & balances? Who play the watchdog more..

Presidential polls 2015: An electoral trial on biased fortunetelling

Jan 17 (GV) I don’t know much about Indian PM Narendra Modi’s reliance on astrology, despite India being a land full of astrologers­ – those with credibility and those of dubious repute – with millions of followers. But in the recent years, Sri Lanka put superstitious India to shame. We have just voted out a war-winning president whose political decisions including the declaration of every conceivable election had been astrologically guided. more..

Investigating corruption; fairness & justice must be ensured

Jan 17 (CT) The JVP deserves the gratitude of the people for taking up matters with regard to the corruption indulged in by the Ministers of the previous regime before the Bribery & Corruption Commission. But it is unlikely that the Bribery Commission can go into the allegations since they lack the necessary technical staff to investigate such allegations. Several of the allegations refer to economic crimes. The Petroleum Corporation is accused of importing inferior petrol. more..

Unknown Angel is President

Jan 17 (SL) Seeking the minority Tamil votes in northern Jaffna town in the last week of campaigning, President Rajapaksa asked the war-affected population to trust the known devil to the unknown angel that he hinted, the common Opposition candidate and one-time aide, Maithripala Sirisena was. Yet, if the Tamils along with the Muslim minorities voted overwhelmingly for Sirisena, the rest of the nation’s 15-million voters, comprising mainly the Sinhala-Buddhist majority, more..

'No personal hatred against CJ Mohan Peiris'

Jan 17 (CT) Former President of Bar Association of Sri Lanka, Upul Jayasuriya, says lawyers do not have any personal hatred against Chief Justice Mohan Peiris and he is a friendly person. Our decision was a legal matter and it was not intended to cause personal difficulty. Q: Is it true that Mrs. Shirani Bandaranayake is to be re-appointed as CJ? A: We always said that she was not removed from the post legally, based on two factors. more..

Maithri’s Mandela moment: An open letter to the President

Jan 17 (GV) Dear Mr President, Please accept my good wishes on your election victory on a platform for good governance, justice and fairness. During the past few weeks, we watched – first in astonishment, and then with mounting hope – how you set out as the underdog yet resolutely worked towards election victory. Your short and swift journey to become the seventh Executive President of Sri Lanka was fraught with challenges and hazards. You won. more..

Pontiff's visit opens new vistas in creating peace and reconciliation!

Jan 17 (CT) The failure in maintaining religious harmony had been one of the prime factors which had led to the collapse of the Rajapaksa regime at the presidential poll, last week. After successfully defeating the LTTE in 2009, Mahinda Rajapaksa returned to power for the second time in 2010, pledging to uphold religious and racial harmony. However, beginning with the demolition of a mosque in Dambulla in 2013, attacks against Muslims had escalated in various parts of the Island, more..

Sri Lanka calls for Rajapaksa probe

President Kumaratunga and President Sirisena: Winning the battle for the SLFP

Jan 17 (Island) President Maithripala Sirisena‘s election victory at the head of the NDF, was an amazing democratic exercise of a beleaguered Opposition which only a few weeks before the elections, no one would have believed would ever be a politically viable alternative to the mighty Rajapaksa regime, came from behind to topple a deeply entrenched and authoritarian regime. The credit for the victory and this amazing turn of events has to largely go to the political foresight more..

Editorial: Let there be limits!

Jan 17 (Island) Freedom of speech is a right that has to be defended by one and all with might and main. Else, dumb and silent we may be led like sheep to slaughter, as George Washington has said. Real liberty is said to consist in one’s right to tell others what they do not want to hear. But, is the sky the limit when one exercises one’s freedom of expression? This is the question being asked the world over in the aftermath of the Paris massacre. Masked gunmen stormed the Charlie Hebdo more..

Pride with a difference

Jan 17 (GV) There are times in one’s life when one becomes very proud of one’s country. For many it is when we win in cricket or in war. This is triumphant pride where we defeat someone else- an external sports team or an internal enemy. For this kind of pride we need “an other” whom we compete against or dislike without restraint. It is a mixed blessing, filled with pride, but especially in the latter case also fear and hate. more..