2nd February 2015

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 […]

UK tells SL: Release North & East land

2nd February 2015 // 0 Comments

Minister hails rehab of ex-combatants By Harischandra Gunaratna Visiting British Minister Hugo Swire has called for the return of High Security Zone lands in the North, particularly in Walikamam North to the rightful owners. This was revealed by Resettlement and Hindu Religious Affairs Minister D. M. Swaminathan yesterday at a media briefing at his ministry in Colombo 03. The Minister was addressing the media after having met Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister of State for Sri Lanka, Hugo Swire. The minister quoted the British politician as having said that HSZ land should be released to their rightful owners. The extent of land coming under the HSZ in Walikamam North only is about 800 acres, Swaminathan said. “Swire also expressed willingness of the British government to […]

GSP Plus concessions likely again

2nd February 2015 // 0 Comments

Strong prospects of reviving the GSP plus tariff concessions from the European Union were held out by Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera yesterday. Prospects emerged when he negotiated with EU officials in Brussels, he said. He was commenting on his two-day visit to Brussels to urge the EU to delay by six months its ban on fish exports from Sri Lanka. The Minister told the Sunday Times the EU had advised on a few measures to be taken before Sri Lanka’s request was considered. He said that the Joint Sri Lanka-EU Economic Commission which had met only twice in the past eight years was being revived. An EU delegation would visit Sri Lanka on March 23, for this purpose, he added.

UK encouraged by Sri Lanka’s renewed desire for reconciliation and long-term peace

2nd February 2015 // 0 Comments

UK Foreign Office Minister Hugo Swire, who concluded his three-day visit to Sri Lanka yesterday, met President Maithripala Sirisena and Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera. This is UK Minister’s second visit to Sri Lanka and the first Ministerial visit since the formation of a new government in the island nation earlier this month. Mr. Swire welcomed the early commitments announced by President Sirisena to lead a more democratic and accountable government. He said the UK is a long-standing friend of Sri Lanka and one of the first to reach out to the new government as it strives to deliver an ambitious reform programme. Concluding the visit, the UK Minister said he is encouraged by the progress made to date in Sri Lanka although many challenges remain. […]

Finding Lasantha’s Killers: ‘Question Mahinda Rajapaksa First’ Says Lasantha’s Brother Lal

2nd February 2015 // 0 Comments

Casting doubts on the government’s pledge of delivering justice to the unresolved murders of several journalists, a fresh investigation into the assassination of Sunday Leader Founder/Editor-in-Chief Lasantha Wickramatunge has not yet begun despite a clear pointer being available on where to begin the probe. As Colombo Telegeraph reported in 2013, former President Mahinda Rajapaksa had on three occassions divulged the involvement of former Army Commander General Sarath Fonseka in the killing to Lasantha’s brother- Lal Wickrematunge – a fact which was also conveyed to former Human Rights Chief Navi Pillay by the Colombo Telegraph Editor in London. When Colombo Telegraph inquired, Lal said the first time Mahinda Rajapaksa referred to Fonseka’s hand in Lasantha’s killing was over the phone, after he had attended a felicitation at […]

More disclosures on previous Govt’s private army

2nd February 2015 // 0 Comments

PM directs Minister of State for Defence to conduct full probe, CID detectives question retired senior military officers More details of heavily armed private security companies conducting election work for Rajapaksa National Executive Council finalises Constitutional changes; Maithripala to retain some executive powers; Ranil to head government Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on Monday directed the Minister of State for Defence, Ruwan Wijewardene, to conduct a full investigation into the operation of a veritable private army run by the state-backed Rakna Arakshaka Lanka Limited (RALL) and Avant Garde Maritime Security Services Limited (AGMSL) after disclosures made in the Sunday Times (Political Commentary) last week. “Did you leak the story to the Sunday Times?” asked a journalist from Wijewardene when a few of them, mostly representing outlets in […]

Protest on plane backing Lankan Refugee

2nd February 2015 // 0 Comments

A Qantas flight from Melbourne to Darwin was disrupted when passengers refused to buckle their seatbelts in protest at the attempted deportation of a Tamil asylum seeker by immigration authorities, the Sydney Morning Herald reported. Qantas confirmed a “number of passengers” on QF838 became disruptive when they refused sit down and follow cabin crew instructions on Monday morning’s flight. The 25-year-old Tamil man, Puvaneethan, was being deported to Sri Lanka after the Refugee Review Tribunal found him not to be a refugee. He has been living in Australia since 2012. “After boarding QF838 in Melbourne a number of passengers became disruptive. The passengers refused to follow cabin crew instruction so were offloaded and met by the AFP,” a Qantas spokeswoman told Fairfax Media. “The issue […]

Mannar Demands Justice For The Missing…

2nd February 2015 // 0 Comments

By Waruni KarunarathneThe previous government launched several investigations and even appointed a presidential commission to look into the complaints related to missing persons during the war in order to help the friends and relatives of the missing persons to find as to what happened to them – and also to establish truth and to help them move on. However, many have observed that these investigations and the commission have not led anywhere in terms of giving relief to those who were affected by the war. The mothers of forcibly-disappeared persons still lament on streets holding placards demanding the government to establish truth and give them answers. Recently in Mannar, mothers of forcibly-disappeared persons staged a silent protest demanding to know whereabouts of those went missing […]

No Letup On UN Probe

2nd 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 […]

Problems Of Tamils

2nd February 2015 // 0 Comments

By Eelaventhan Manickavasakar – Former Member of Parliament – Sri Lanka The ethnic problems of Eelam Tamils which birthed in 1956 due to the political insane frenzy of S.W.R.D Bandaranaike who legislated the ‘Sinhala only’ act and inaugurated the subsequent turmoils in the Sri Lankan politics. The hidden agenda of Sinhalisation, Buddhisitation and militarisation proceeded unabatingly supported with state sponsored communal riots in 1958,1977,1981,1983 and the genocide in 2009. With ‘Mahawamsa mindset’ deeply embedded , all party talks, peace agreements and proposals were discarded or breached due to opposition from the Sinhala-Buddhist feelings of opposite parties. There was hardly any political leader who took steps in the interests of all Sri Lankan citizens. All were clutching the chauvinistic sentiments to grab the political crown. Sadly, this […]

General election:President in balancing act

2nd February 2015 // 0 Comments

General election:President in balancing act * Cancels acquisition of USD 16 mn presidential aircraft * Promises to repeal dictatorial prez powers by April 20 * Pays tribute to social media for overwhelming MR * Assures his family won’t use VIP choppers By Shamindra Ferdinado President Maithripala Sirisena on Saturday (Jan. 31) declared that though he was the leader of the SLFP, he wouldn’t undermine the UNP in the run-up to the forthcoming parliamentary election. Similarly, the SLFP, too, wouldn’t be let down, President Sirisena emphasised while explaining the difficulties experienced in tackling what he called an unprecedented situation. The President was responding to interviewer, Upul Shantha Sannasgala, in a recorded interview telecast by Rupavahini. The President asserted that whatever the outcome of the next parliamentary election, the two major […]

British Minister donates books to Jaffna Library

2nd February 2015 // 0 Comments

British Minister donates books to Jaffna Library By Our Jaffna correspondent Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister Hugo Swire expressed his concerns over the media personnel in Jaffna when he met a group of Jaffna journalists from the Jaffna Press Club(JPC) last Thursday. The Jaffna journalists told the British Minister that the media personnel was yet to see a conducive climate for them to carry out their duties without any harassment. They also pointed out that the journalists from the island who live in exile in the Western countries should not be sent back until there safety was ensured in the island. Responding to the Jaffna media personnel Hugo Swire said that he understood the difficulties faced by the Jaffna journalists in carrying out their duties. […]

Faizer Mustapha flies to Singapore again!

2nd February 2015 // 0 Comments

It is reported that the State Minister of Aviation Faizer Mustapha has left to Singapore by flight number UL 308 of SriLankan Airlines today (1st) evening. During the past few days media reported that he would resign from his ministerial portfolio while it is stated the reason for Mr. Mustapha to resign is handing over to Minister Arjuna Ranatunga a part of the subjects in Mr. Mustapha’s ministry. However, Mr. Mustapha has not said anything regarding any  resignation before he left to Singapore but would resign from his post when he comes back say reports. Mr. Mustapha, before he resigned from Mahinda Rajapaksa’s government left to Singapore and joined Mr. Maithripala Sirisena’s campaign immediately after he returned.

Sirisena has given hope to Tamils: Velayutham

2nd February 2015 // 0 Comments

The election of Maithripala Sirisena as the Sri Lankan President has offered a hope to the Tamils in Sri Lanka and they are able to move freely without the Army’s interruption, said K. Velayutham, Sri Lankan Minister of State for Plantation and Industry. Talking to reporters after meeting DMK leader M. Karunanidhi on Sunday, he said he had explained the situation after change in leadership and efforts were on to withdraw the Army from the Tamil areas and camps. Mr. Velaytham said one of the priorities of the new government was to rehabilitate the internally displaced people and those who were in the camps. Asked about the plans to send Tamil refugees to Sri Lanka, he said the Sri Lankan government was ready to provide all support […]

SLFP Organiser calls for independent domestic war crimes probe

2nd February 2015 // 0 Comments

Punish those found guilty, pardon them later * Non compliance may lead to economic sanctions  by Zacki Jabbar An SLFP Chief Organiser and former Minister yesterday called for an independent domestic inquiry into allegations of war crimes that the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) had levelled against the previous government, the Sri Lankan military and the LTTE. Neomal Perera MP, who is the SLFP’s Chief Organiser for Chilaw and former Deputy Foreign Minister said that even though the previous UPFA government had refused to comply with the UNHRC resolution passed against it, the war crimes charges had to be dealt with, if the country was to move forward. While being part of the UN community, it was not possible to say that the UNHRC which was a legal body could not call for inquiries into allegations of […]