February 2015

U.S. says much remains to be done in Sri Lanka

4th February 2015 // 0 Comments

COLOMBO, Feb. 4 (Xinhua) — The United States said on Wednesday there is a lot of work to be done in Sri Lanka after a new government came to power last month. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Nisha Biswal, who just concluded a visit to Sri Lanka, also said her government looks forward to partnering with the Sri Lankan people to address the challenges and help Sri Lanka realize its true potential. Biswal, accompanied by Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia Atul Keshap, met with a range of political and civil society leaders. This is the highest U.S. delegation to Sri Lanka since the presidential elections on Jan. 8. “It was a privilege to visit Colombo to […]

Wiggy pleased with Palihakkara

4th February 2015 // 0 Comments

Wiggy pleased with Palihakkara BY SULOCHANA RAMIAH MOHAN Chief Minister Northern Province C. V. Wigneswaran said the replacement of the military Governors in the North and East with members of foreign and civil services (Foreign Secretary H. M. G. S. Palihakkara), combined with measures such as the removal of the travel restrictions to the North, signifies a symbolic step in the right direction in commencing the process to restore civilian administration and also hopefully in addressing the issue of demilitarisation. Long term political issues cannot be resolved overnight even if there is goodwill on both sides. It requires the building of trust and for that the freedom of information and the exchange of ideas have to be fostered. The previous regime painted the Tamils as […]

No Letup On UN Probe

4th February 2015 // 0 Comments

The swearing in of a new Government has not released the pressure on Sri Lanka for a UN led investigation over the war, with human rights groups insisting that it is the only way forward. The Government had last week dispatched Jayantha Dhanapala, Senior Advisor on Foreign Affairs to President Maithripala Sirisena, to meet the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein in Geneva, and briefed him on the policies of the newly elected Government. However the meeting did not mean that the report on the investigations on the war conducted by a UN team, scheduled to be presented to the UN Human Rights Council in March, is going to be held back. The Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka to the United […]

Death row British-born Tamil heroin smuggler to be executed in Bali

4th February 2015 // 0 Comments

Death row British-born heroin smuggler to be executed in Bali London-born Myuran Sukumaran, 34, who moved to Australia with his family, will be in the next group to face a firing squad A British-born heroin smuggler on death row in Bali is to be executed. London-born Myuran Sukumaran, 34 – who moved to Australia with his family – will be in the next group to face a firing squad. He and fellow Aussie Andrew Chan have lost their appeals for clemency. The pair, ring leaders of a gang trafficking heroin to Australia, have been on death row since 2006. No date has been set, they will get just three days’ notice. They were arrested after an Aussie police tip. British gran Lindsay Sandiford is also […]

EU ban suspended for six months

4th February 2015 // 0 Comments

Fisheries State Minister Dilip Wedaarachchi said yesterday the European Union’s ban on the export of fisheries products from Sri Lanka had been suspended for six months. “The Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera visited the European Commission and discussed the issues with regard to the lifting the ban on exports of fisheries products,” he said. This matter was discussed at the first cabinet meeting of the new government and the conditions laid down by the European Union are being gradually implemented. Agreements were signed last year during the tenure of former fisheries Minister Rajitha Senaratne to install satellite-guided Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) on all fishing vessels of Sri Lankan origin. “The European Union gave Sri Lanka six months to get its act together to prevent Sri Lankan […]

Omanthai Check Point stays!

4th February 2015 // 0 Comments

While claiming that the Omanthai military checkpoint would be operate as usual, the military today said that the priority will be given for vehicles transporting vegetables and fruits and other fresh rations from and to the Northern region at the Omanthai security check point from yesterday. Army Spokesman Jayanath Jayaweera said that vehicles and people will be inspected at the checkpoint as usual. Earlier, there were reports that the Omanthai Checkpoint had been opened entirely giving access to all the vehicles and people to pass by without being inspected. “There is no basis for these reports. We have been instructed to operate the checkpoint as usual. Only the priority will be given for some of the vehicles, that too after the inspections as the checkpoint […]

Alleged corrupt deals of 20 ministers of previous regime

4th February 2015 // 0 Comments

The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) led Voice Against Corruption (VAC) is to lodge complaints with the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption against 20 ministers and officials of the previous regime on Thursday. Convener VAC Wasantha Samarasinghe told Daily Mirror that they will actually handover files which contains corrupt deals of 20 ministers and high officials of the previous regime on February 5 Mr. Samarasinghe said they have to go through every details on the information they have received on the allegations to determine their accuracy. Earlier VAC said it had received 2000 complaints regarding corrupt deals carried out by the powerful persons in the previous regime worth an unprecedented amount of Rs 1,300 billion ( Rs. 130,000 million) . Mr Samarasinghe said […]

Tamil leaders say Sri Lanka slow to release prisoners, land

4th February 2015 // 0 Comments

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — Ethnic Tamil leaders told a visiting U.S. diplomat on Tuesday that Sri Lanka’s new government is not moving fast enough to free prisoners detained without trial and return private land seized by the military during a decades-long civil war. Related Stories Sri Lankan leader calls for unity amid ethnic divide Associated Press Sri Lanka says it will return private land in civil war area Associated Press Sri Lankan Tamil party calls on new gov’t to share power Associated Press With change in Sri Lanka, US eyes deeper ties Associated Press New Sri Lankan president pardons ex-army chief Associated Press U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Nisha Biswal met with Tamil National Alliance leaders as part of her two-day visit to Sri […]

From Constitutional Reforms To Political Refinement

4th February 2015 // 0 Comments

Now that the new government has been in place for a few weeks, and also does not face the speculated political/constitutional challenges from the erstwhile President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s camp, the time has begun ticking for them to meet their self-set 100-day deadline for progressing on the promised constitutional reforms. The clock would stop on 23 April, again their own deadline for calling fresh parliamentary polls, a full year ahead of schedule. From the voter’s perspective, the 100-day reforms project is not about the letter of the promises, but the spirit thereof. It’s not just about abolishing or weakening the Executive Presidency, or restoring the two-term upper-limit for the office. It’s not even about restoring the 17-A Constitutional Councils and Independent Commissions for making high-level appointments, […]

A Precarious Transition And National Government?

4th February 2015 // 0 Comments

By S. I. Keethaponcalan – The last time Sri Lanka had a president and cabinet of ministers from two different parties was in the 2001 – 2004 period: the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and the United National Party (UNP), respectively. PresidentChandrika Kumaratunga (SLFP) was re-elected in 1999 and in 2001 the coalition headed by Ranil Wickramesinge (UNP) won the general election. The expected cohabitation between the two failed because the president used her constitutional powers and prematurely dissolved parliament in 2004. The UNP government collapsed with the dissolution of parliament. Sri Lanka has been forced into a SLFP-UNP combination again following the recently concluded presidential election. Chairman of the SLFP Maithripala Sirisena is now the president and the cabinet is headed by UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinge. […]

LLRC is to be fully implemented?

4th February 2015 // 0 Comments

The Government is considering the full implementation of the recommendations of the Lessons Learned and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC), Commonwealth Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma said. Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa refused to fully implement the recommendations of the LLRC and that resulted in some countries accusing Sri Lanka of failing to address accountability issues on the war. In a statement issued today at the conclusion of a brief visit to Sri Lanka, Sharma said he had discussed options for practical Commonwealth support for vital domestic processes in Sri Lanka, and welcome the intent to establish a credible domestic investigation mechanism that respects international humanitarian law. Sharma said that the purpose of his visit to Sri Lanka was primarily to reiterate and renew the Commonwealth’s commitment to work […]

Betrayal Against Tamils That Broke The Letter – 4th February Did Not Usher Freedom For Tamils

4th February 2015 // 0 Comments

By Usha S Sri-Skanda-Rajah – The Sinister Acts of Betrayal Against Tamils That Broke The Letter, Spirit And Essence Of Ceylon Independence The main thrust of this article is to recollect and hone as independence day is here, just some of the many sinister acts of betrayal inflicted on the Tamil people during, in this context, the post independence era; the two salient points for discussion are: First Salient Point: The abolition of the safeguard for Tamil people – an essential clause, aimed to protect them, “against the tyranny of the majority” which was written in to the Soulbury constitution, a constitution that the British helped draft to make way for the granting of Ceylon independence, the incorporation of which was the sole reason that […]

Biswal will not be visiting Jaffna – TNA calls for a political solution

4th February 2015 // 0 Comments

US Assistant Secretary of State Nisha Biswal will not be visiting Jaffna during her Sri Lankan visit which ends today, the US Embassy in Colombo said. An Embassy spokesperson told the Colombo Gazette that since Biswal’s visit to Sri Lanka was just over two days she will not have time to visit Jaffna. Earlier there were some reports indicating she will visit Jaffna apart from having meetings in Colombo with the Government and civil society. However the US Embassy denied those reports and said that her meetings had been confined to Colombo during her current visit. Biswal had yesterday met President Maithripala Sirisena, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera, among others. Today her key meeting is to be with the Tamil National Alliance […]

Jaffna University stages protest against political influence

4th February 2015 // 0 Comments

University stages protest against political influence By Pranavesh Sivakumar The Jaffna University Association yesterday condemned that if political interference does not come to a halt an adverse situation would surface in the university. This view was expressed by student, teachers and employee unions in the university. A protest was held by the unions urging the authorities to stop political influence within the university. Student Union President, Teachers Union President and Employees Union President addressed the gathering to explain crisis situation in the university. They said, “This protest was organized to eliminate political interference, which had obstructed university activities. The protest will continue until this place becomes a clean and peaceful place”. “This is not a place where we run politics. This esteemed place should not […]

The White Flags Incident 2009

4th February 2015 // 0 Comments

International Truth &  Justice Project, Sri Lanka Yasmin Sooka New evidence on the “white flag” surrenders by members of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and their families at the end of the civil war requires an independent international investigation, says human rights lawyer Yasmin Sooka, who has served as an expert adviser on Sri Lanka to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Read full report here  “An analysis of the available evidence points to an organised government plan at the highest level not to accept the surrender of the top civilian, administrative and political leadership of the LTTE – but rather to execute them, in violation of international humanitarian law,” says Ms Sooka. The report by the International Truth & Justice Project, can be […]

Commonwealth hails Sri Lanka’s new war crimes probe

3rd February 2015 // 0 Comments

COLOMBO (AFP) – The Commonwealth on Tuesday welcomed Sri Lanka’s plans to establish a “credible” inquiry into war crimes allegations, after talks with new President Maithripala Sirisena and the former British colony’s other leaders. Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma also offered Commonwealth assistance to set up the judicial inquiry into allegations troops killed thousands of Tamil civilians during the final stages of its ethnic war. “We have discussed options for practical Commonwealth support for these vital domestic processes, and welcome the intent to establish a credible domestic investigation mechanism that respects international humanitarian law,” Sharma said at the end of a three-day visit. Sirisena pledged during last month’s election campaign to set up a probe into allegations 40,000 civilians were killed in the final push of the […]

Wimal hired vehicles for political work, paid events managing firm without following proper procedures

3rd February 2015 // 0 Comments

By Shamindra Ferdinando Housing and Samurdhi Minister Sajith Premadasa recently accused the Engineering Corporation of hiring a fleet of 33 vehicles at monthly cost of Rs. 80,000 each for political work. Minister Premadasa said that such excesses wouldn’t happen under his stewardship under any circumstance. The minister was addressing representatives of the construction industry at the Institute for Construction Training and Development (ICTAD) on Jan. 31. The National Housing Development Authority (NHDA), too, has hired 15 vehicles in support of the UPFA political project. Minister Premadasa said that political project implemented by the NHDA at the expense of funds available for construction of houses had been stopped. Both Engineering Corporation as well as NHDA had been under the purview of National Freedom Front (NFF) leader […]

What’s Next for Sri Lanka’s Mahinda Rajapaksa?

2nd February 2015 // 0 Comments

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa was voted out of office in early January. This came as a surprise to many. First elected in 2005, Rajapaksa was widely credited with winning Sri Lanka’s civil war against the separatist Tamil Tigers in 2009.Maithripala Sirisena, a cabinet member in Rajapaksa’s administration who was alsoacting defense minister during the end of the war, is now president. Trying to win an unprecedented third term, Rajapaksa called a snap election two years early, thinking he’d be reelected handily. Just a few months ago, it seemed that no one could credibly challenge him or the United People’s Freedom Alliance, the political coalition led by Rajapaksa’s Sri Lanka Freedom Party. Sirisena was supported by a broad coalition, including leading Tamil and Muslim parties […]

SLMC to receive Eastern Province CM post soon

2nd February 2015 // 0 Comments

Hakeem says rehearsal for truly national govt. By Shamindra Ferdinando The SLMC is expected to secure the post of Chief Minister of the Eastern Provincial Council soon in accordance with its agreement with the SLFP-led UPFA. An SLMC nominee will succeed UPFA appointed Chief Minister M. N. Abdul Majeed, a member of the SLFP. SLMC leader and Minister Rauff Hakeem told The Island that political parties represented at the EPC were in the process of finalising arrangements. The minister said the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) and the UNP, too, were supportive of the move. The TNA consists of the Illankai Tamil Arasu Kadchi, TELO, PLOTE and EPRLF. Responding to a query, the SLMC leader asserted that the arrangement at the EPC could be a rehearsal […]

US says Sri Lanka faces difficult challenges ahead

2nd February 2015 // 0 Comments

Pledges assistance to rebuild economy, prevent corruption, ensure good governance, human rights by Zacki Jabbar The United States while congratulating the new Maithirpala Sirisena government on having accomplished much in a short space of time, yesterday cautioned that it faced difficult challenges ahead. Visiting US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, Nisha Biswal, addressing the media in Colombo, following talks with Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera said that Sri Lanka could count on the US to be a partner and friend in the way forward, be it in rebuilding the economy,preventing corruption, advancing good governance, ensuring human rights and democratic participation for all its citizens. President Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had put forth an ambitious agenda for their first 100 […]

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