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Shehzad, Azhar lead Pakistan fightback

June 27 (CI) A 120-run, second-wicket partnership between Azhar Ali and Ahmed Shehzad led Pakistan's fightback on the third day of the second Test in Colombo. Both batsmen struck fifties and Pakistan were seven runs short of taking the lead on the third day when bad light stopped play an hour into the final session. With eight wickets in hand and the track losing bounce, Pakistan's chances will depend on how well more..

The parliament has left the building; let’s elect some fools

June 27 (CT) Yesterday was historic. The US Supreme Court legalized gay marriage, the Dutch sued their govt and ordered it to cut down on carbon emissions, and President Maithripala Sirisena dissolved the 14th Sri Lankan Parliament. And I, with great personal strength, managed to say no to a piece of chocolate cake. Those are three amazing things. The first two have world-changing implications; the third is something we Sri Lankans have been waiting for. more..

Sri Lanka will not use schools for vote counting, exams days may be shifted

June 27 (EN) Sri Lanka will not use schools as counting centres for upcoming parliamentary polls on August 17 and a nation-wide university entrance examinations may be paused for at least three days, elections commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya said. Key schools in main towns in each electoral district has been used for counting in the past but this year alternative locations would be found, he said. Sri Lanka's high school diploma exams (A/L) are held in August. more..

Ava gang busted in Jaffna

June 27 (Island) Manipay police in the Jaffna peninsula have rounded-up a gang allegedly responsible for terrorising the area. Police acted in the wake of growing public protests against members of what was called ‘Ava’ group. A series of raids early this week led to the arrest of 18 suspects as well as the recovery of stolen items. OIC of Manipay police said: "Mallakam Magistrate remanded the suspects till June 29 when more..

Geneva in focus once again!

June 27 (CT) Minister Mangala Samaraweera had succeeded in postponing the release of the report prepared by the UN on the alleged war crimes and human rights violations during the final phase of the civil war in Wanni in 2009. The report which was due to be released in March this year was postponed to September this year following the assurance given by the Foreign Minister on launching a credible internal probe into the alleged war crimes and human rights violations during more..

Ranil wants to end Mahinda’s reign for good

June 27 (CG) PM Ranil Wickremesinghe says the UNP will use the August 17 Parliament elections to bury former President Rajapaksa’s reign for good. He said that despite Rajapaksa losing the January 8 Presidential election, there is a push to bring him back to power through the Parliament election. Wickremesinghe however said he is confident the UNP will win the election and defeat any attempt by Rajapaksa to form a new Govt. He said that the UNP will not be contesting more..

Runaway Lankan maids worry Labor Ministry

June 27 (AN) Labor Minister Mufrej Al-Haqabani has asked the Sri Lankan govt to stop maids running away from their Saudi sponsors soon after their arrival in the Kingdom. Al-Haqbani told SL Ambassador Mohamed Hussein that several maids have run away after spending barely three months in the country. This was costing each affected Saudi sponsor SR25,000, he said. Minister said that while this was only a small fraction of SL maids more..

SLMC does not regret helping defeat Mahinda

June 27 (Island) Minister Rauff Hakeem yesterday accused Minister Rajitha Senaratne of abdicating his duties as the Cabinet Spokesman. Hakeem said Senaratne’s claim that he (Hakeem) would even change his religion to become President of the Country was a very irresponsible statement, which was unbecoming of a Cabinet Spokesman. "Rajitha Senaratne is behaving as if he is the SLFP spokesman. He, has lost his credibility and is not fit to hold the position of Cabinet Spokesman", more..

Sri Lanka tea trade restive over idle Rs5bn marketing fund

June 27 (EN) Sri Lanka’s tea exporters are unhappy over a five billion rupee fund raised from a cess on exports and meant for overseas promotion that large remains unused, an official said. Anselm Perera, chairman of the Colombo Tea Traders Association, said the funds were urgently needed to be spent to promote Ceylon tea especially at a time prices had slumped and the industry was going through difficult times. Problems in key markets like Russia and the Middle East had reduced demand for SL tea, more..

ICC calls for SLC election before October

June 27 (AD) Reiterating that the appointment of the Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) Interim Committee was a breach of its constitution, the International Cricket Council (ICC) has urged the Sports Minister to hold fresh elections before the next ICC Board meeting in October. The decision was taken at the ICC Annual Conference which concluded in Barbados on Friday with the ICC, IDI and IBC Board meetings, held under the chairmanship of more..

UN urges govt to consult everyone

June 27 (CG) The UN has reiterated calls to the Govt to consult broadly with all political parties and others when investigating incidents related to the war. Echoing comments made recently by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Farhan Haq, Deputy Spokesman for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, said that the new Govt in Sri Lanka has passed a constitutional amendment which, if implemented appropriately, brings renewed hope for democracy and the rule of law. more..

Rajapaksa camp to announce PM candidate on July 1

June 27 (AM) Informed sources say that pro-Mahinda Rajapaksa camp will announce their prime ministerial candidate on July 1. According to the sources their first rally will be held in Anuradhapura on July 06. It was earlier reported that Rajapaksa met group of former MPs at his residentce in Colombo this morning. On July 25 there was a meeting between president Maithripala Sirisena and former president Rajapaksa reportedly took place at the Speaker's official residence. more..

Sri Lanka to invite foreign observers for parliamentary polls

June 27 (IANS) SL will invite foreign observers for the Parliamentary Elections due to take place on August 17. The PAFFREL said they are going to invite at least 50 foreign observers to monitor the elections which will produce a new SL Parliament. "Upcoming elections will be competitive as we will be seeing some major political parties contesting. With foreign observers, there will be a certain level of control on election day," more..

Malu Wasantha arrested in Polonnaruwa

June 27 (CT) A special Police Narcotics Bureau team arrested Thursday (25) an individual named Malu Wasantha, a businessman, in Diyabeduma, Polonnaruwa. The suspect is allegedly connected to the network of the drug dealer Kumaraswamy Krishan, who was arrested with a stock of heroin worth. Rs 35 million in his possession at a car park of a supermarket in Wattala recently. A high-ranking Police officer involved in the investigations said on information disclosed, more..

Met Department issues weather warning

June 27 (CG) The Department of Meteorology has issued a severe weather warning saying that due to the convergence of wind flows showery weather with very heavy rain falls can be expected in the southwestern parts of the country. It also said that strong southwesterly winds can be expected over the country and surrounding sea areas. There will be cloudy skies with showers at times in the Western, Sabaragamuwa, Central provinces and Galle Matara districts. more..

Compulsory AIDS testing for all pregnant women from 2016

June 27 (Island) All pregnant women in SL would have to undergo mandatory HIV testing by 2016, Health Education Bureau Consultant Community Physician, Dr. Janaki Vidanapathirana said. She was addressing an awareness programme organised by Youth Affairs State Ministry. The number of HIV/AIDS cases had increased recently and the majority of cases were among those who had homosexual relationships. more..

Missing persons panel to hold public sittings in Trinco

June 27 (AD) Presidential Commission to Inquire into complaints regarding Missing Persons will conduct public sittings in the Trincomalee District from June 27 to 30, 2015. Public sittings will be conducted at the Muttur Divisional Secretariat on June 27 and 28 while sitting at the Trincomalee District Secretariat will be held on June 29 and 30. Complainants from the Muttur, Seruwila, Eachilampattu (Verugal), Kinniya, Thampalakaman Grama Niladhari Divisions have been invited more..

SL’s memory wars thwart reconciliation

June 27 (JT) Six years after the end of the civil war that claimed at least 70,000 lives between 1983 and 2009, Sri Lanka appears to have made little progress on reconciliation between its ethnic Tamils and Sinhalese majority. In the war-ravaged northern provinces, large swathes of land are designated high-security zones and remain under military occupation. As a result, many displaced families are still waiting to return to homes located in these areas even though the security threat more..

Elections chief to write to political parties

June 27 (CG) Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya says he will be writing to all the registered political parties seeking clarity on who will be contesting the August 17 Parliament elections. Deshapriya said that the Department of Elections has been given the minimum number of days to prepare for the Parliament elections. But he said the Department will prepare for the election within the time it has in hand and ensure more..

Sri Lanka ahead of India in well-being; Panama is No. 1: Gallup

June 27 (FT) Sri Lankans and Myanmarese are happier than Indians, finds a Gallup poll. But India is better placed on a well-being index than China, Nepal and Pakistan. According to the Gallup-Healthways Global Well-Being Index, 2014, India was ranked 70 out of 145 nations. The poll found only 17% of Indians interviewed were satisfied with their lives. Compared to this, 7.9% in China were satisfied. Last year, India was placed 71 out of 135 nations, with 16% saying they were satisfied, more..

Colombo’s ancient trees need to be phased out

June 27 (ST) Ancient and massive trees like the Flamboyant and Gal Siyambala have added shade and colour to Colombo since British times. While in residential areas like Cinnamon Gardens these trees look smart, in the older commercial quarters of the city they have begun posing a risk to life and limb with branches spreading in a manner that pose a danger to the citizenry. Thick and invasive aerial roots of ancient trees choke old walls making even walking past them a risk. more..

High profile committee to steer UNP's campaign

June 27 (DN) The UNP appointed a high profile committee yesterday to handle the party's campaign for the forthcoming Parliamentary election. The committee comprises Minister Karu Jayasuriya, party Chairman Malik Samarawickrama, General Secretary Kabir Hashim, Nissanka Nanayakkara and Daya Palpola. The committee will collaborate with PM Ranil Wickremesinghe in steering the election campaign of the party, party sources said. more..

Passengers on troubled Emirates A-380 sent to their destinations

June 27 (Island) All 470 passengers on the Emirates A-380 flight bound for Dubai form Sydney which made an emergency landing at the BIA yesterday morning after pilots detected smoke in the cockpit had left Colombo for their final destination in other available flights, said a spokesman for the airline in Colombo. "Soon after the aircraft landed in Colombo the passengers were found accommodation in hotels here," he said. The pilots made a distress call when the aircraft was 320 nautical miles more..

GSP plus by year end: Ajith

June 27 (DN) Foreign Affairs Deputy Minister Ajith P. Perera said that they were hopeful and confident of obtaining GSP plus by the end of this year. He also said the ban on fish exports by the European Union (EU) would also be lifted very soon. Perera was addressing the media yesterday. "During discussions with EU senior officials in Colombo recently, the officials explained that Sri Lanka could easily obtain GSP Plus if regulations are followed," he said. more..

Sangakkara confirms international retirement

June 27 (CI) Kumar Sangakkara confirmed he will retire from international cricket after the second Test of Sri Lanka's forthcoming series against India, calling time on one of the most successful careers in modern cricket. Sangakkara will not play the third Test in the ongoing series against Pakistan, choosing instead to play for county side Surrey, before returning to Sri Lanka ahead of the first Test against India. more..

Pressing the Parliament refresh button

June 28 (SO) So the battle is joined! By the time you open this newspaper, the whole country will be brimming over with excited political speculation. Hopefully, this edition of the Sunday Observer will help begin clarifying the speculation and indicating important trends and issues. It is a speculation multiplied several times over given the number of contesting political forces that have risen to matured national electoral status. These forces now prepare to be tested electorally after nearly more..

Constitutional reform in desperate times

June 28 (SL) Desperate politicians in desperate situations make desperate statements. These are certainly desperate times with the threat of dissolution of parliament hanging over the heads of most parliamentarians. They are desperate particularly because they are not certain of the electoral system that will be deployed at the election of the next parliament. The statement of SLMC leader, Rauff Hakeem that he regretted having helped to oust former President Rajapaksa more..

JHU cannot form an alliance with the UNP

June 28 (SL) Despite the fact that JHU became part of the alliance to form a UNP govt, they started attacking PM Ranil Wickremesinghe and certain UNP ministers especially on the ground that they have been working in the interest of European and other western countries regardless of national interests. Recently, JHU heavily criticised Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera’s attempt to build a dialogue with the Tamil Diaspora more..

Sirisena’s tightrope

June 28 (Island) So the die has finally been cast with President Maithripala Sirisena dissolving the incumbent Parliament 10 months earlier than due and setting the next parliamentary election for Aug. 17. This followed a meeting in Colombo on Thursday night between the Victor and the Vanquished of the Jan. 8 election, which both sides splitting the same hair, denied had ever taken place. The reports of this secret meeting had inaccurately said that it took place at the Speaker’s official residence more..

Where are the rogues of the last regime?

June 28 (ST) Midweek there was a strong rumour that Parliament would be dissolved at the stroke of midnight. Even the Speaker seemed unsure judging by a comment he made from his lofty perch in the august assembly. Only the President knew it was not to be; but by the end of the working week he had taken the decision he had been painfully contemplating for weeks. The House, as Parliament is also known, took the unusual step during the week of having a full dress rehearsal of more..

'People should get ready to form SLFP govt'

June 28 (SL) Opposition leader Nimal Siripala de Silva is a character that has caused much controversy in the SLFP. He has expressed his views on behalf of the Opposition and today, the much talked about subject is his ability and possibility to become the Prime Minister. He reveals his views to The Sunday Leader on the moves to bring him in as the Prime Ministerial candidate at the Parliament elections. more..

Most crucial general election since 1977

June 28 (Island) The long awaited dissolution of parliament has taken place at last. After the executive presidency was established, parliamentary elections generally lost their importance and became the legislative extension of the presidential election. Since 1978, it was always the presidential election that would determine which side has won and would be calling the shots. An exception to this was the parliamentary election of August 1994 which ended the 17 year rule of the UNP. more..

Stockbrokers mixed on rating system

June 28 (ST) While some brokers say that implementing a rating system on broking houses will create investor confidence and give credibility to stockbrokers and traders, others lament that there won’t be a level playing field in the industry. “We’re not deposit taking institutions. This is a commission based industry. With ratings coming in, some (fund managers, etc) will only want to deal with a company which has a higher rating this will force some (broking houses) out,” a CEO of a top more..

'We will continue the dialogue with all Sri Lankan diaspora'

June 28 (SL) the recommendations of the LLRC to get the Diaspora involved in the process towards achieving meaningful reconciliation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs came under heavy criticism of some groups for initiating a dialogue with the Diaspora groups. Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Ajith P Perera said that it is unfortunate that some groups are trying to give a wrong picture of the govt’s attempt to build reconciliation and more..

General election predictably a three-cornered tussle

June 28 (NS) Battle lines are being drawn for the upcoming general election by all major political parties despite the hullabaloo about the dissolution of Parliament, the 20th Amendment and the reconstitution of political alliances in the post-January 8 scenario. The UNP made no secret that it was yearning for an early dissolution. It was keen to cash in on the goodwill generated by the party’s support for President Maithripala Sirisena at the presidential election and more..

Battle lines drawn

June 28 (SL) Battle lines have been drawn with Parliament being dissolved on Friday and the stage set for a tense battle at the Parliament elections. Parliament was dissolved after the UNP insisted that President Maithripala Sirisena stick to the agreement made prior to the presidential poll in January 2015 to dissolve Parliament, despite the failure to reach consensus on the 20thAmendment. Sirisena earlier made it clear that he wished to fulfil the promises that he had made on the 20th more..

Sobitha Thera to quit politics

June 28 (CT) Ven Maduluwawe Sobhitha Thera says that he will not get involved in politics again. "I will quit politics. This is a dirty pit, a load of garbage. It is a real hassle. From dawn people come asking for jobs. They ask for schools. As if I am engaged in governing," he said. Q: Do you still believe that President Sirisena is a good leader who fulfils promises and knows how to show gratitude? A: He gave three promises to the people more..

Match is evenly poised now: Shehzad

June 28 (CI) Pakistan batsman Ahmed Shehzad has said that the ongoing Test would be evenly poised on the fourth day after a tremendous effort from his bowlers, and batsmen on the third day. Pakistan bounced back strongly and turned the tables once again to get into a position from where their chances of losing have decreased. They may still find it very tough to win, but will take a draw as a virtual win from here. "The way this Test match had started it wasn't pleasing for us," Shehzad said, more..

A strategic dissolution of Parliament

June 28 (CT) Some form of authentication to the floating speculations of an imminent dissolution of Parliament came from one none other than Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa earlier this week when he casually remarked that an answer pertaining to question posed by MP Dinesh Gunawardena to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on alleged delay in providing former President with his due facilities will be provided to the House 'if' the Parliament meets on the next date. more..

New govt clears Krrish deal

June 28 (ST) The new govt, largely controlled by the UNP whose parliamentarians were vociferous against the Krrish deal when they were in opposition, has given the go ahead to the Indian-based company to commence the long delayed and controversial Krrish Square mixed development project, a top official confirmed. UDA Chairman Ranjith Fernando said that preliminary work on the project at the prime 4.3 acre land more..