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‘Govt. won’t change defence policy’

Feb 24 (SAMN) Secretary to the Defence Ministry Gotabhaya Rajapaksa said that the Government would not give into any pressures to change its defence policy that countered LTTE terrorism successfully."We will not let any force dictate terms to us, whether they are national or international, to stop our on going counter-terrorism measures. We will continue till we eradicate this menace from our country," Rajapaksa said Friday. more..

Karuna’s party set to contest elections

Feb 24 (SAMN) The Tamileelam Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal (TMVP) led by LTTE renegade leader Karuna Amman, is preparing to contest any election in the Western and Eastern provinces. TMVP leader Karuna Amman is expected to address public meetings, scheduled to commence at the end of next month in Colombo, a senior TMVP spokesman said Friday. more..

6000 cheques bounce daily: CJ

Feb 24 (SAMN) Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva said that six thousand cheques get ' bounced ' daily. This, the Chief Justice pointed out was an enormous amount which the country cannot afford, and said the source of this revelation was the Deputy Governor of the Central Bank. The Chief Justice was addressing members and participants of the Kandy Centre for Arbitration which has been established recently. more..

Govt. geared to decrease inflation

Feb 24 (SAMN) The Central Bank said Friday that decisions taken at the National Economic Council (NEC) meeting recently would help the Government to bring down inflation to the targeted level by year end. In addition to the measures taken by the Central Bank so far, in early February 2007, the Central Bank brought its concerns relating to rising inflation to the notice of the NEC chaired by President Mahinda Rajapaksa. more..

Crocodile tears and mud slinging will not help Mangala, Sripathi

Feb 24 (DN) It is time for Sripathi Sooriyarachchi and Mangala Samaraweera to stop their mud slinging campaign without making themselves comic heroes of Sri Lanka, a senior government politician said yesterday. He said: “They should stop shedding crocodile tears and get on with their lives. People are no fools. They can see how they have got together with certain people who have ridiculed them and insulted them in the past. If they got any shame left they would not stoop to such low levels.” more..

Sri Lanka youth Parliament working towards peace building

Feb 24 (DN) Sri Lanka Youth Parliament (SLYP) conducted a three-day residential workshop on skills for peace from February 16 to 18 for its Action Partners coming from all over Sri Lanka at the Bandaranaike Centre for International Studies (BCIS). Youth from all districts including the North and East were present at the workshop. more..

UNP concerned over Sripathi’s charges

Feb 24 (DM) The main opposition UNP yesterday charged that President Mahinda Rajapaksa was violating all agreements. Referring to allegations made by sacked minister Sripathi Suriarachchi, Chief Opposition whip Joseph Michael Perera said the President should make his stand clear regarding those allegations. more..

Lankans nominated for HR defenders award

Feb 24 (DM) Two Sri Lankans have been nominated for the prestigious Martin Ennals Award (MEA) for Human Rights Defenders 2007. Prof. Rajan Hoole and Kopalasingham Sritharan, co-founders of the University Teachers for Human Rights are among the six nominees for the award. The jury will announce the final MEA laureate on May 4 and the award will be presented at a ceremony in Geneva on October 2. more..

Sri Lanka mobile missed calls boost communication

Feb 24 (AFP) Working mother Kumari Ranasinghe looks forward every day to a telephone call from someone who hangs up on her immediately -- her 12-year-old son who is making the call to let her know he has left school. It's a supremely cost-effective method of keeping in touch that has swept Sri Lanka where daily bloodshed, despite a truce in the civil war, has many people living in fear for their lives and those of loved ones. more..

Two runaway maids 'safe'

Feb 24 (GD) TWO Sri Lankan runaway maids, who fled their sponsor's house in Hamad Town on Tuesday over allegations that they were being mistreated by his Moroccan wife are now in safe hands. The Migrant Workers' Protection Society admitted the two women, in their 30s, to the Salmaniya Medical Complex (SMC), but the report they received doesn't clearly state if they were beaten up or not, more..

Sri Lanka have the last laugh

Feb 24 (AFP) The 1996 World Cup tournament will be remembered as much for Sri Lanka's triumph with bold and innovative batting tactics as with riots, boycotts and an unsatisfactory format. Arjuna Ranatunga's Sri Lankans were on cloud nine when diminutive Aravinda de Silva cracked a classy century to guide his team to a seven-wicket victory over Mark Taylor's Australians in the day-night final at Lahore. more..

Australia say Sri Lankans won't be sent home if they face persecution

Feb 24 (AFP) Australia vowed Saturday not to send home a group of 85, mostly Sri Lankan boat people if it meant they would face persecution. The Australian government said the fate of the group, intercepted by a navy ship this week, was being discussed with both Jakarta and the tiny Pacific nation of Nauru, where Australia already has a immigration detention centre. more..

Military: Sri Lankan troops capture 3 Tamil Tiger bases in northeast

Feb 24 (AP) Troops have captured three Tamil Tiger rebel bases in northeastern Sri Lanka, forcing the insurgents to flee into the jungles, the Defense Ministry said Saturday. "The military had to carry out the operation as the terrorists were targeting our camps in the area and risking supply lines," said military spokesman Brig. Prasad Samarasinghe. "During the past 72 hours the army, supported by artillery and mortars, successfully neutralized the three LTTE bases," more..

TN Police denies laxity

Feb 24 (CO) Under media criticism for "laxity" in taking action against LTTE supporters' activities and "intelligence failure", Tamil Nadu police has asserted that there was no let up by police in dealing with the issue. State DGP D Mukherjee told reporters yesterday that in the last two months, the police had arrested 41 people suspected to be involved in running supply chains to the Sri Lankan militants. more..

Zimbabwe asked to stop money printing by IMF as Sri Lanka trail 1600:20

Feb 24 (LBO) The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has asked Zimbabwe not to print money and called for fundamental policy changes to stabilize its economy as inflation hit 1,600 percent in January, echoing advice given to Sri Lanka not so long ago. But Sri Lanka is trailing way behind Zimbabwe with inflation at only 20 percent, with both countries due meet at the cricket world cup next month. more..

SL happy as India blows up LTTE boat

Feb 24 (HT) In contrast to trenchant criticism in a section of the press in Colombo, the Sri Lankan government is happy that India blew up an explosive-laden LTTE suicide boat. "They had no option but to blow it up," said Foreign Secretary Dr Palitha Kohona reacting to a report in The Island daily on Saturday, that the blowing up was a "mysterious" affair, that Colombo had rejected the Indian claims about the boat's mission and had called for joint naval patrolling. more..

Sri Lanka troops take Tiger bases on truce anniversary

Feb 24 (AFP) Sri Lankan troops overran three Tamil Tiger rebel bases this week, the defence ministry said Saturday after the guerrillas declared a five-year-old ceasefire all but dead. The ministry said security forces carried out a three-day operation around Friday's truce anniversary in the eastern coastal district of Trincomalee where it accused the rebels of attacking troops and civilians. more..

Batticaloa - In the throes of war

Feb 25 (TW) Batticaloa is a city of contrasts. Blessed with a landscape dominated by a breathtakingly beautiful lagoon and its phenomenal singing fish, the versatile palm and a resilient people cursed by separatist strife to which they appear seemingly oblivious, they pedal along on their bicycles doing whatever they have to do. more..

Watch out for the goodbye men - Sangakkara

Feb 25 (CI) Kumar Sangakkara, Sri Lanka's vice-captain and wicketkeeper, expects the big names playing their last World Cup to leave their mark on the tournament in the West Indies. Sangakkara picked out Sanath Jayasuriya, Sachin Tendulkar and Brian Lara as three to watch out for during the tournament, starting on March 13. more..

20 Tamil detainees on fast unto death campaign in Colombo

Feb 25 (TN) Twenty Tamil detainees, taken into custody by the Sri Lankan police and military since 2003 and detained in the Magazine prison in Colombo, are on a fast-unto-death campaign for the fourth day Saturday, urging the Sri Lankan authorities to expedite the investigations against them or release them if there were no charges against them. more..

Beyond the Ceasefire

Feb 25 (AT) The LTTE possesses a rare and a useful capacity to present the old as new, to give the impression of saying something unusual even when it is merely stating the obvious and the commonplace. Its long statement, issued on the occasion of the 5th anniversary of the CFA, contains nothing new and is more significant for what it does not mention rather than for what it does mention. more..

That much hyped Cease Fire Agreement—CFA

Feb 25 (AT) The present military gains have brought about a sense of euphoria among some in the south to conclude that the war is well nigh a finish, or that it can be finished almost in a whiff, in spite of the LTTE undercurrents, such as the reported tapping of arms suppliers to Sri Lanka etc—a sure sign of hectic activity outside on behalf of the LTTE. more..

International Human Rights Group commences Assessing Sri Lanka’s Rights Situation

Feb 25 (AT) The Presidential Commission of Inquiry (COI) appointed to investigate alleged serious human rights violations in Sri Lanka since August 1, 2005, and the International Independent Group of Eminent Persons (IIGEP), also appointed by the President to observe the investigations of the COI, had their inaugural meeting in Colombo, on February 12-13, 2007 more..

LTTE’s Tamil Nadu connection

Feb 25 (AT) There has been a flurry of diplomatic activity between India and Sri Lanka over the past month along with straws in the wind that the LTTE could be losing patience with India and could be preparing to launch suicide attacks in this country for not being unequivocal about the Sri Lankan Government’s current military offensive against it. The latest being a possibility of a concerted attempt to capture Elephant Pass. more..

Under the Shadow of Lakegala : Of Their Games and sports

Feb 25 (AT) Usually games and sports in this village are confined to the young. Elders obviously need no games, as they are engaged full time in activities connected with cultivation. The young ones begin with simple and common rural children’s games like welibath iviima, koonpittu hediima. (Both these are games played by children with sand collected from the home compound), puwak kole pediima, ( Here children use an aricanut branch (poppata) like a go cart for them to be drawn. more..

Can We Drop the ‘Federalism vs. Unitary’ Debate and on What Grounds?

Feb 25 (AT) If anyone wishes to genuinely advocate a durable solution, or find one, to the ethno-political conflict in Sri Lanka, acceptable to all communities, going beyond the so-called binary debates on ‘federalism vs. unitary state,’ then the deification and reification of the ‘unitary state’ (or the concept!) should be dropped, or otherwise the pompous claims of ‘impartiality’ amounts to hypocrisy and duplicity. more..

Revisiting LTTE’s options

Feb 25 (AT) Sri Lanka media is talking of an imminent LTTE attack citing the exodus of civilians from LTTE controlled areas in the north. On the other hand, LTTE says the air strikes in Vavuniya sector have caused panic among civilians who fear a Sri Lanka offensive in this sector. In the parliament the Minister of Fisheries had indicated possible LTTE attacks on Colombo port. more..

Lankan business community to participate in Expo Pakistan

Feb 25 (APP) The Sri Lankan business community will participate in the Expo Pakistan 2007 mega exhibition, showcasing commercial and cultural diversity of Pakistani products and services. Expo Pakistan 2007, being organised by the Trade Development Authority, will be held from the March 29 to April 1 at the Expo Centre in Karachi, a private TV channel reported. more..

Sri Lanka: Isolation and international relations

Feb 25 (TW) One of the warnings sounded by ex-minister Samaraweera was about the certainty of the international isolation of Sri Lanka if President Mahinda Rajapakse did not move to address the culture of impunity and the deterioration of human rights protection in Sri Lanka. This too has the hallmarks of the Premadasa regime when populist authoritarianism was laced with nationalist bombast and insecure xenophobia. more..

Sri Lankans consider China's development as theirs: president

Feb 25 (Xinhua) "We consider that the development of the Chinese people as our own development. Similarly, we look forward to the Chinese people considering the development of Sri Lanka as the development of China, due to the friendship between our countries," said Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa. In an exclusive interview with Xinhua made on Friday prior to his state visit to China, Rajapaksa said the relationship between China and Sri Lanka is built on a solid foundation. more..

The red road to island's secret side

Feb 25 (GU) It's pitch-black and we're waiting for elephants. We've had word from the villagers, the elephant tipsters, that a herd has been coming to this jungle clearing for the past few nights to drink at a watering hole. Sniff deeply, and something thick and animal hangs on the breeze; look down to the mud and there's the occasional big, round footprint. more..

“Two Decades of War, Five Years of the CFA, What Next?”

Feb 25 (TW) I want to congratulate National Peace Council for holding this timely symposium and for posing the question: after two decades of war and 5 years of the CFA, what next? I also want to commend NPC for inviting such a range of important religious, political, civil society and other leaders to share their thoughts because all of you collectively represent a powerful constituency for peace. more..

Offensive aftermath

Feb 25 (TN) More than 200 civilians were killed and hundreds of others injured in the five-month long Sri Lanka military offensive carried out in sea, air and land on Vaharai and adjoining coastal hamlets. Nearly 40,000 IDPs stay in 49 temporary shelters and with friends and relatives elsewhere in the military controlled part of Batticaloa district. more..

This is the beginning of a journey! – Mangala Samaraweera

Feb 25 (LT) Though some think that Mangala’s journey has ended, it is not so said former minister Mangala Samaraweera. He said a new journey has begun. Mr. Samaraweera said this at a ceremony, under the theme “Forward, unstopped like River Nilwala” held at Matara to mark 18 years for his political career. Seven demonstrations on seven roads marched to Uyanwatte Esplanade to participate at the ceremony. more..

Does Govt. accept what tigers claim that they achieved from CFA? – JVP

Feb 25 (LT) The JVP asks the government whether it accepts what the tigers say regarding their achievement from CFA. Tiger terrorists in a statement issued to mark five years since signing of the CFA states, “Cease Fire Agreement (CFA) with the Government of Sri Lanka, formulated with the full support of the international community, had transcended the parameters of Sri Lanka’s majoritarian constitution, recognizing Tamil Eelam’s de facto existence and the balance of power between the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) and the LTTE.” more..

Oil exploration, H'tota port top on agenda

Feb 25 (GDI) Several agreements on Sino-Lanka bilateral co-operation will be signed during President Mahinda Rajapaksa's Chinese visit, which coincides with the 50th year anniversary of Sino-Lanka diplomatic relations. The President will leave for China today on a seven-day marathon tour, during which he would hold discussions with his Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and senior government officials. more..

Govt. won`t quit CFA

Feb 25 (LNP) President Mahinda Rajapakse`s administration would not quit the Oslo-arranged Ceasefire Agreement, government sources said. Amidst growing JVP-led protests aimed at forcing the President to abrogate the CFA, the sources emphasized that the agreement was irrelevant. The President is under heavy fire over his refusal to give in to JVP demands, particularly the abrogation of the agreement and summarily terminate the Norwegian role in the peace process. more..

Sea Tigers blast Indian tug deployed for Sethu project

Feb 25 (LNP) The LTTE blasted an Indian tug deployed south of Point Calimere in June last year, well informed sources said. The ill-fated vessel is believed to have been deployed alongside a dredger assigned for controversial Sethusamudram project. The LTTE had used a limpet mine, believed to be about 40 kgs in weight to blast the tug. more..

80 million-rupee luxury BMWs for new ministers

Feb 25 (LNP) Contrary to assurances that the new ministers in the super-size Cabinet of President Mahinda Rajapaksa will only be drawing their salaries as parliamentarians and not be given any perks, a scramble for luxury vehicles by the new ministers has begun. Early this week Treasury Secretary P. B. Jayasundera directed Director General Budget Sudharma Karunaratne to prepare a policy guideline circular on allocation of new vehicles. more..

Curbing arms smuggling: Will India go the whole hog?

Feb 25 (LNP) The seizure of large quantities of LTTE bound explosives and other warlike material across the Palk Straits during the past few weeks appears to have galvanised India into sitting up and taking note of the high incidence of LTTE arms smuggling activities on her soil. The massive door-to-door verification of Sri Lankan refugees in Tamil Nadu is suggestive of a radical change in the Indian policy towards Sri Lanka`s conflict. more..

President off to China on official visit

Feb 25 (LNP) President Mahinda Rajapakse who begins his five-day official visit to China this week is expected to discuss technical and financial assistance for the Hambantota Port Development Project from the Chinese government, official sources said. This gigantic project, estimated to cost to Rs. 30.9 billion million it calls for, is expected to be completed by 2011. more..

Chandrika-Mangala alliance in the offing

Feb 25 (SAMN) The much talked about nexus between former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga and ousted Minister Mangala Samaraweera and the JVP is emerging once again. According to informed sources it is likely that former Ministers Mangala Samaraweera and Shripathi Sooriyarachchi will form an alliance with the former President to oppose President Mahinda Rajapaksa. more..

Youth dissatisfied with politics: study

Feb 25 (SAMN) A research to identify attitudes of young people towards politics in Sri Lanka conducted by Anton Piyaratne, Lecturer in Sociology, Faculty of Humanities and Social Science, Open University of Sri Lanka has revealed that young people are not satisfied with the political system of the country. “Their trust in politics is weakening steadily. more..

Govt. devolution proposals by April

Feb 25 (SAMN) The government will put forward its devolution proposals as a political solution to the North-East crisis, before April 13. This was revealed by President’s Special Advisor Basil Rajapaksa to Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso and Japan’s Special Envoy Yasushi Akashi during a recent visit to Japan. The Japanese Foreign Minister had said that economic prosperity should accompany freedom and peace. more..

Fresh offensive gets underway

Feb 25 (SAMN) Troops are engaged in a major jungle operation aimed at weakening LTTE units operating in parts of the Batticaloa district Military sources said, adding that. specialised units operating north of Trincomalee-Horowpothana road were seeking to neutralise enemy units which are believed to be isolated due to growing security forces presence in the Batticaloa-Trincomalee region. The military launched the operation a few days ago, a senior military official said. more..

‘Sunrise Region’ master plan to kick off soon

Feb 25 (NS) A 25- year master plan has been drawn by the government to develop the Eastern province which encompasses the districts of Batticaloa, Trincomalee and Amapara. The implementation of the master plan is expected to commence shortly. The project named as the ‘Sunrise Region” development project or the ‘Negenahira Udana’ will consist a three phase development plan and a blue print has already been drawn up under the auspices of the Urban Development Ministry. more..

Outer Colombo ring road to ease traffic congestion

Feb 25 (NS) The government is planning to construct an outer Colombo ring road connecting Kottawa, Kaduwela and Kadawatha called the outer circular road, to ease traffic congestion within the Colombo city. Informed sources said that they will utilize Japanese funds to construct this road which would be later extended to Wattala from Kadawatha. The Japanese government increased its annual loan package from 33 billion to 39.2 billion Japanese yen, more..

Brutal assault of Ananda student: Why?

Feb 25 (NS) The Ananda College student, who was critically injured in a student clash recently, was discharged from hospital after undergoing treatment, but the debate on the surging violence among school students continues to occupy concerned citizens. Clashes amongst schools, universities and student factions are not something new to this country and two weeks back it was the same when two cliques from two popular schools in Colombo got involved in a fight that injured one student. more..

SLFP, JHU APRC proposals within two weeks

Feb 25 (NS) SLFP and JHU are expected to present their much delayed proposals to the All Party Representative Committee within the next two weeks, The Nation learns. Their delay caused several committee meetings to be postponed. As a result, the United National Party members threatened to withdraw from the APRC. However, the APRC Chairman Minister Tissa Vitarana said, the delay of the SLFP representatives from submitting their proposals was mostly due to them being ministers with busy schedules. more..

Lanka loses Rs. 1 billion due to drop in fruit and vegetable exports

Feb 25 (SO) Exports of fruits and vegetables from Sri Lanka have dropped by 30% resulting in a revenue loss of one billion rupees to the country while vegetable prices have skyrocketed during the last one year in the domestic market too. Therefore releasing lands for 100 model farms by exporters who will provide inputs, market and transfer hi-tech immediately to out- growers is most heartening if we are to come out of the crisis, more..