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Over 60 per cent turnout in Sri Lanka provincial elections

Aug 23 (DPA) An estimated 60-per-cent voter turn out was reported in two of Sri Lanka's nine provinces where elections were conducted on Saturday concluding a violent campaign marred by shootings, arson and voter intimidation. Voting closed at 4.00 pm (1030 GMT) with more incidents of intimidation and violence reported, but election observers said they were not serious enough to affect the outcome of the poll. more..

Sri Lanka holds local polls as military moves to take Tiger capital

Aug 23 (AFP) Sri Lanka staged provincial elections amid high security Saturday as troops pushed deeper into rebel territory in the island's north in fresh fighting that has left 26 dead, officials said. Two out of the nine provinces on the island were voting to elect the highest level of local government in the regions, officials said, adding that more than 25,000 police had been deployed to guard polling booths. more..

Sri Lanka gets ADB help to curb fiscal profligacy

Aug 24 (LBO) Sri Lanka is getting help from Japan and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to improve government finances, the regional lender said, four years after the island returned to excessive government spending, money printing and high inflation. The Japan Special Fund, is giving a 300,000 US dollar grant to help Sri Lanka identify measures to contain expenditure and increase revenue in the medium term, the ADB said in a statement. more..

Minister's brother assaults JVP MP

Aug 24 (LD) JVP MP S.K. Subasinghe was assaulted around 5.15 this afternoon (Aug. 23rd) when he visited Galthambarawa polling centre in Polonnaruwa to inquire into a dispute there. He had received information that UPFA supporters had prevented his party's representative at the booth from leaving the place. When Mr. Subasinghe had attempted to mediate, he was assaulted by a group led by Minister Maithripala Sirisena's brother Chaminda. more..

Sri Lanka: monitors report violence at poll

Aug 24 (AP) Sri Lankan election monitors reported assaults, threats and the seizure of polling cards Saturday, as voting concluded for two provincial assemblies regarded by the government as a referendum for its military offensive against the Tamil Tiger rebels. The independent Center for Monitoring Election Violence said in a statement that there were at least 27 incidents that can affect the results for the elections for North Central and Sabaragamuwa Provinces. more..

Eastern Province: Is this a good Model for Conflict Resolution?

Aug 24 (AT) The Government has been consistent in its commitment to maintaining democracy across the country and thus undertook all necessary measure to bring about the most significant development in the Eastern Province by the establishment of Democracy via a pluralistic political process and restoring Civil Administration. On 10th March 2008 elections were held in nine (9) local Government electorates in the Batticaloa District, more..

Over 50 persons and some bigwigs arrested for election related violence

Aug 24 (LB) Police yesterday arrested over 50 persons including JVP Matara District MP Premasiri Manage and UNP Borella District Organizer Jayantha de Silva for involvement in election violence in the North Central and Sabaragamuwa Provinces. Among the 50, 24 have been arrested in the NCP while and eight of them have been released after questioning, NCP and Wayaba Provinces Senior DIG Jayantha Gamage told LAKBIMAnEWS. more..

Is ‘war’ the factor in a warlike election?

Aug 24 (LB) The American ambassador met the commissioner of elections last week and asked that he ensure free and fair polling in the NCP and Sabaragamuwa Provincial Council elections. The ambassador was predictably met with a negative reaction in UPFA quarters, but the spate of violence in the NCP and Sabaragamuwa made it very difficult for the government to avoid the issue. The Anuradhapura district organiser Dr Johnpulle’s house was attacked last week, and more..

Diplomats idle at the ministry

Aug 24 (LB) Several senior diplomats of additional secretary level are twiddling their thumbs after returning to the foreign ministry at the end of their postings. Authoritative sources said that Prasad Kariyawasam - who was Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the UN in New York - was first made additional secretary in charge of South Asia, SAARC, the Public Communication Division and Administration (Overseas and General). He was also foreign ministry spokesman during SAARC. more..

Not so perfect post-liberation Madhu feast

Aug 24 (LB) Sri Lanka is the home to many religious locations. The Buddhists revere the Dalada Maligawa, the Hindus pay homage at Nallur Kovil and the Catholics pray at the Madhu shrine. The Madhu shrine has been in the news for a number of years due to the threats it faces. For a number of years the Tigers have used the shrine for many of its activities and have also used it as a shield. The shrine is revered by Catholics around the island and houses the statue of our Lady of Madhu. more..

Navy Chief and Saliya in sonar tangle

Aug 24 (ML) Months of endless bickering and grandstanding between the Ports Authority and the Sri Lanka Navy has led to the security of Sri Lanka's harbours and ports being jeopardised once again, and a phenomenal amount of money being wasted by the government. In the latest twist in the joint 'effort' by the navy and Ports Authority to protect the harbours from underwater intruders - and amidst murmurs amongst senior naval officers that more..

President's make or break election

Aug 24 (ML) The country will wake up this morning to the news of a provincial council election marred by violence and allegations of mass scale rigging as results start trickling in. The nation will wake up to a provincial polls result that has increasingly gained in national importance even as President Rajapakse himself, as an emergency campaign measure decided to turn it into a referendum for his war effort and his performance instead. more..

War rhetoric and the numbers game

Aug 24 (SL) Wickremanayake ascended the stage to address an SLFP rally in the Kuruwita area of Ratnapura last week, he roared that the military was in a position to capture Kilinochchi town by yesterday. "We are very, very close. Kilinochchi is not very far from our site," he insisted, emphasising that "Our boys might even take Kilinochchi by August 23." Unfortunately, in a telling sign as to how much enthusiasm the government is received with in Ratnapura, the rally was practically deserted. more..

Land promised for agriculture

Aug 24 (SL) Government's broken promises a stumbling block to develop the agriculture sector, an agri-businessman said on Friday. Sarath de Silva, Chairman, National Agribusiness Council (NAC), said that recently a report that dealt with the delineation of State and temple land for agriculture development at the instigation of the President was prepared. But nothing has happened since. This report was prepared by the private sector in collaboration with Presidential Adviser Lakshman Jayakody. more..

Tamil Nationalism will not fail

Aug 24 (LG) M.K.Narayanan, India’s National Security Avisor has made an observation that the Lankan Government can secure military victories but not win the war against the LTTE unless the Lankan Government wins the hearts of the Tamils. The Tamils are not on the side of the government. This, in essence is the reflection of the experience gained by India which tried to defeat the LTTE militarily. more..

Subasinghe transferred to Colombo National Hospital

Aug 24 (LT) JVP Parliamentarian S.K. Subasinghe who was attacked by thugs at the polling station at Galthambarawa in Plonnarauwa, has been transferred to Colombo National Hospital from Pollonnaruwa Hospital. Mr. Subasinghe was admitted to Polonnaruwa hospital after he received head injuries in an attack carried out by thugs led by a brother of Minister Maithripala Sirisena. more..

The New Elite and Democracy

Aug 24 (LG) Nearly thirty years ago, David Lebedoff, an academic and lawyer, a political activist and a shrewd observer of US politics, wrote a book ‘The New Elite – the death of democracy’. It was a time when the United States was going through a period of soul-searching. Everything seemed to be going wrong and there was a lack of faith in the institutions of the state. In his book, Lebedoff argued that ‘the undermining of our basic institutions, the near-anarchy in our politics, and more..

Catch me if you can! – PBJ/SR

Aug 24 (LG) There is public anger over the way the authorities have handled rumbustious politician Mervyn Silva who is adopting a virtual ‘catch-me-if-you-can’ attitude with law enforcement authorities. Finally the law caught up with him this week. The same ‘catch-me-if-you-can’ attitude must apply to P.B. Jayasundera, Susantha Ratnayake and JKH given their ‘eerie silence’ over the LMSL judgement where all were faulted and slammed for an irregular privatisation deal. more..

Peace not war

Aug 24 (GDN) THIS is with reference to 'Defeating terror' (GDN, August 13). The writer should kindly note recent remarks made by Indian National Security Adviser M K Narayanan. According to Press reports dated August 13, Narayanan warned the Sri Lankan government that it might not be able to win the ongoing war against separatist Tamil Tiger rebels despite recent military gains. He also told the Straits Times newspaper that the Tigers had been weakened but retained the ability to stage terror strikes. more..

Lanka plans insurance cover for maids, drivers

Aug 24 (AN) The Sri Lankan government has called on Saudi insurance companies to submit quotations for mandatory insurance to cover Sri Lankan domestic aides such as maids and drivers in the Kingdom. Colombo has drafted the new insurance scheme because the Saudi government’s current insurance system does not include domestic aides working in Saudi households. “We have already introduced the scheme in the United Arab Emirates and Jordan. more..

Sri Lanka braces for push on Tiger capital

Aug 24 (AFP) Strife-torn Sri Lanka is bracing for intense and bloody battles as security forces close in on the political capital of the Tamil Tiger rebels, according to military analysts. Government forces are celebrating the capture of the towns of Uyilankulam and Thunukkai after battling the LTTE for months. And the defence ministry says the ultimate prize of the city of Kilinochchi is now within reach, just 12 kilometres (seven miles) from current security forces' positions. more..

Ruling party set to win in provincial polls

Aug 24 (DPA) The ruling UPFA was heading for a comfortable victory Sunday in crucial provincial elections. Polls were held in two of nine provinces where the government said it was seeking an endorsement for the ongoing military operations against Tamil rebels in northern Sri Lanka. Results from 13 of 27 electorates were announced after polling ended Saturday in the north central and Sabaragamuwa provinces - the UFPA won all. more..

Failed strategies and the permanence of refugees

Aug 24 (FI) The pledge of government leaders not to leave the problem of terrorism to the next generation might have carried credibility, were the different components to a rational strategy in place. One should have been a federal settlement that would have left no doubt that the Tamils would enjoy equality, security and dignity as citizens of Lanka. Nothing approaching it has happened in 60 years of independence. more..

Beneath the evasive negotiated settlement

Aug 24 (FI) The BBC world service programme ‘Insider’s Debate’ on Sunday 27 July 2008 with Lyse Doucet in the chair started with the questions - What is it like to try to sue for peace between two bitterly-opposed factions? To be in the same room as Northern Ireland adversaries Gerry Adams and Ian Paisley? How do you begin to get the Tamil Tigers and the Sri Lankan government to talk to each other? more..

IDPs: Need for a national legal framework in Sri Lanka

Aug 24 (FI) 'The ongoing ethnic strife between Sri Lanka's Sinhalese majority and Tamil minority has led to one of the worst crises of internal displacement in South Asia. In terms of the proportion of the population, Sri Lanka has one of the world's largest IDP populations. Internal displacement in Sri Lanka predominantly stems from conflict-related violence caused by the clashing of the government's armed forces with the LTTE. more..

The Spectre of Dravidastan

Aug 24 (FI) Dayan Jayatilleka's review of Tamil Nadu and the Indian model is a sensible, measured, lucid articulation of the problem at hand. His article makes a compelling and convincing logical exposition of the parameters within which the possible settlement of the ethnic conflict can meaningfully take place - and partisans of all stripes should be forced to read it. Arguably there is little new here, but it nevertheless manages to untangle the present knot of more..

Sri Lanka to court-martial army deserters

Aug 24 (TN) Sri Lanka Army (SLA) high command has warned that deserters who fail to respond to the amnesty period are to be arrested and court-martialed. Twelve thousand army deserters have failed to surrender to the SLA during the amnesty period. Meanwhile, Sri Lanka's military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara has told media that eight thousand youths are to be recruited afresh to the volunteer force and other units of the SLA. more..

Ten thousand Tamil voters deprived from voting in Sabaragamuwa election

Aug 24 (TN) Nearly 10,000 Up-Country Tamils who are eligible to vote were deprived from voting on Saturday at Ratnapura and Kegalle districts in Sabaragamuwa provincial council elections as they did not have National Identity Cards (NIC), a senior Ceylon Workers Congress (CWC) member told media in Colombo. The CWC has lodged protest with the Sri Lankan Election Commissioner Dayananda Dissanayake. more..

Wanni civilians in the jaws of LTTE horror!

Aug 24 (LNP) They flee in numbers. They flee in search of peace hoping an end to an era of terror. They flee not to tell fairy tales but to reveal horror stories in Wanni. The LTTE`s ruse to make a human shield to evoke international sympathy in the wake of steady military offensives penetrating through Wanni jungles to destroy the LTTE`s last bastion, is to `explode` soon with the exodus of civilians from Kilinochchi, Mullaithivu and Vavuniya to government-controlled areas. more..

Army Chief visits liberated Thunukkai and Uilankulam

Aug 24 (LNP) Army Commander Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka has said that the security forces have almost arrived near the Kilinochchi town, after liberating Uilankulam and Thunukkai. The Army Chief toured the area after the capture of the strategically important towns of the LTTE and emboldened the war heroes. Expressing views to ITN on the future operations of the troops, he opined that the troops kept on advancing into LTTE held areas in the North in a period little over one year. more..

Sports Minister: questionable insurance deal

Aug 24 (LNP) Sports minister Gamini Lokuge has stopped a questionable insurance tender for the current India-Sri Lanka cricket series which is alleged to have been promoted by two controversial members of the interim committee for self gain. The insurance tender which was awarded to ABC Insurance Company would have, if approved, provided a massive windfall for the two members as the original premium had been increased from 240,000 US dollars to 536,000 US dollars more..

Are we ready to deal with world food crisis?

Aug 24 (LNP) Soaring world food prices have become a problem not only to developing countries but also to the superpowers. High fuel costs have resulted in higher agricultural costs. The drop in food stocks and using land meant for food production to produce biofuels are the other disturbing factors. The international community should help countries which are more prone and ensure some sort of relief for the poor. more..

NIC a stumbling block at polls

Aug 24 (SAMN) Thousands of enthusiastic voters were barred from exercising their mandate at Saturday’s Provincial Council elections due to their inability to produce a valid identification card at the polling centres in the North Central and Sabaragamuwa Provinces. According to the National Polls Observation Centre (NPOC), at least 30,000 voters in the North Central Province were not allowed to cast their vote by more..

LTTE calls up ‘reserves’ forces

Aug 24 (SAMN) As the armed forces closed in on LTTE strongholds in the north, the rebels are reported to have called in their ‘reserve’ forces, including retired guerrillas and civilians who had been doing odd jobs for them, a government officials claimed, adding that the civilians being enlisted to the LTTE’s war effort included farmers and labourers in Tiger-controlled areas. More than 5,000 former Tiger guerrillas and civilians have been enlisted following more..

SL seeks more world heritage site tags

Aug 24 (SAMN) A proposal made this year by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage to the UNESCO World Heritage Centre to have the historic Seruwawila Temple in Trincomalee declared a world heritage site has been favourably received by the Paris-based UN body. Several Sri Lanka sites, including Sigiriya, are already listed as world heritage sites. The proposal was taken up by the World Heritage Committee, which met in Quebec on July 13. more..

UPFA gains resounding victory

Aug 24 (SAMN) The ruling UPFA won an easy victory in provincial elections, the election commission confirmed with final results Sunday. The UFPA won in all 27 districts in the North Central and Sabaragamuwa provinces, with large majorities in most polling divisions, increasing the likelihood of further polls in the months ahead. Polls were held in two of nine provinces where the government said it was seeking an endorsement for the ongoing military operations against Tamil rebels in in north. more..

Lanka to carve niche in booming Chinese jewellery market

Aug 24 (SO) Eleven market leaders and high-ranking officials of the Gem and Jewellery Trade Association of China will visit Sri Lanka to participate in the FACETS Sri Lanka 2008 International Gem and Jewellery Show that will be held from September 6-9 at the BMICH. Having observed the market potential for the Sri Lanka jewellery industry in China, the Sri Lanka Embassy officials initiated this visit in consultation with the Gem and Jewellery Association of Sri Lanka. more..

Call to protect elephants

Aug 24 (SO) Elephants live in herds are led by the oldest female elephant in the herd. The male elephant is driven away from the herd to prevent breeding. These are the strange ways of elephants said the Managing Trustee of Bio Diversity and Elephant Conservation Trust and leading expert on Asian elephants and former planter Jayantha Jayawardena. He was addressing members of the Rotary Club of Kandy presided over by Rotarian Ayesha Wijeratne at the Queens Hotel, Kandy. more..

Roomassala - the mystery mountain

Aug 24 (SO) Historical mountain Roomassala stands majestically in the vicinity of Galle harbour along Galle- Matara road. The pagoda built recently by a Japanese Buddhist glistens in the morning sun. The mountain violates the continuity of the southern coastal belt. Many devotees, Hindus and other tourists throng this mountain to discover it’s mysteries and fantasies derived from the epic of Ramayana by Valmiki. more..

Tele conferences to discuss people's problems

Aug 24 (SO) A high-tech tele conference system will be used by the Ministry of Public Administration and Home Affairs in future to deal with countrywide divisional secretaries and other public sector officials. The objective of this novel program is to discuss official matters pertaining to people who live in distant areas and also to give quick solutions to their problems. As a rehearsal, the first tele conference system was conducted by the Public Administration Ministry last week in Colombo more..

President to address UNGA next month

Aug 24 (NS) Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa is scheduled to address the General Assembly of the United Nations’ 63rd session on September 24, at the UN Headquarters in New York. President Rajapaksa is expected to be the first speaker on the second day of the UN General Assembly sessions, scheduled to open on Tuesday, September 23. more..

CMEV condemns ministerial involvement in voter intimidation

Aug 24 (NS) The Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) yesterday condemned the involvement of several ministers who were engaged in voter intimidation in certain polling divisions in the Sabaragamuwa and North Central Provinces. According to the CMEV monitors’ report, the brother of UNP member Upul Bandara and a person named Roshan had been assaulted by a group of people led by Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage. more..

Low teacher turnout hinders A/L exam paper marking

Aug 24 (NS) The Advanced Level (A/L) paper marking appears to have hit a snag due to the low teacher turnout. A/L paper marking is only being carried out at two centres, charged General Secretary of Ceylon Teachers’ Service Union (CTSU) Mahinda Jayasinghe. This is due to the fact that only 5% of the number of teachers required had applied, he added. “The entire process is at a standstill,” Jayasinghe claimed. “Even teachers who applied are not coming,” he added. more..

Dr. Mervyn Silva and the 17th Amendment

Aug 24 (NS) The public watches in helpless amazement as Dr. Mervyn Silva MP dominates the national stage with various unique achievements. Although he got less than 3000 votes in the last Parliamentary elections that he contested, he was appointed a National List MP. The public is not aware of any noteworthy service that he has rendered the nation to merit this recognition, and is left wondering what the magic wand is that he waves to get whatever he wants. more..

75,000 or more voters disallowed to vote in A'Pura for want of IDs says Minister

Aug 24 (Island) Media and Information Minister Anura Priyadharshana Yapa said yesterday that whilst polling was brisk with voters showing much enthusiasm, the only hitch was the "unfair decision" of the Commissioner of Election to make National Identity Cards (NICs) compulsory without conceding to accept any alternate form of identification. He asserted that 75,000 or more voters were disallowed to vote in the Anuradhapura district alone more..

Vasu turns heat on LMS judgment

Aug 24 (Island) Vasudeva Nanayakkara has urged COPE Chairman Minister John Seneviratne to ensure the implementation of the recent Supreme Court judgment on the privatization of the Lanka Marine Services. In a brief letter to Seneviratne, he has expressed the belief that the COPE would take warranted action and /or causes such action to be taken to ensure that the rule of law was upheld and more..

Janahamuwa backfires on government propagandists

Aug 24 (Island) Accusing the government of blatantly using the state-media in its polls propaganda campaign, the UNP and JVP yesterday asserted that the August 23 elections in Sabaragamuwa and North Central Provinces couldn’t be won on propaganda alone. Acknowledging that battlefield success and high profile military operations on the Vanni front had been advantageous to the government, they said the spiralling cost of living, waste, corruption and mismanagement at the highest levels of the administration would influence many voters go against the government. more..

'New thinking has resulted in the growth of the export sector'

Aug 24 (Island) Minister of Export Development and International Trade, Prof. G. L. Peiris said that nobody can check the increasing prices of our imports in the world market and the only solution available is to embark on, as the present Government has rightly done, a programme to step up exports from Sri Lanka both in quantity and quality. "In this respect, it’s heartening to note an increase of 15% in this sector", he noted. more..

Major parties say poll peaceful

Aug 24 (ST) The three main parties said yesterday the elections in the North Central and Sabaragamuwa provinces were generally peaceful and only a few incidents were reported in contrast to the large-scale violence in the polls campaign. SLFP General Secretary Maitripala Sirisena said there were a few incidents perpetrated by UNPers but the voter turnout was good and his party was confident of victory. more..

Meeting fire with fire douses the poll

Aug 24 (ST) Dr. Raja Johnpulle, a dyed-in-the-wool supporter of the UNP was watching the ruling UPFA procession as it meandered past his house in the Anuradhapura town around 3.30 in the afternoon of Wednesday, the 19th. He's seen these over the years, often with a degree of bon-homie associated with the politics of a by-gone era. The one-time Ambassador to the former Soviet Union did not quite realise that times have changed. more..