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Rajapaksa indicates problems on autonomous provincial bodies

Jan 23 (PTI) President Mahinda Rajapakse on Tuesday indicated there were problems in accepting amendments on establishing autonomous provincial bodies as part a power devolution package to resolve the Tamil issue, but maintained that a military solution was not possible. He wondered why the 13th constitutional amendment, which seeks to devolve power to provincial councils in line with the Indo-Sri Lanka Peace Accord of 1987, was not gaining acceptance so far. more..

APRC proposals will be delayed - Rajitha

Jan 23 (LD) The proposals of the All Party Representative Committee for the resolution of the national conflict will not be unveiled tomorrow (Jan. 23rd) owing to certain unforeseen technical glitches, Minister Rajitha Senaratne told ‘Lanka Dissent’ a short while ago. The president has summoned all political parties represented in the APRC for a special meeting at 4.30 pm today (Jan. 22nd) to discuss these obstacles. more..

Sri Lanka signals shift in war on Tamil Tigers

Jan 23 (AFP) President signalled a shift in the war against the Tamil Tigers, saying he did not want to push his troops into rebel-held territory to defeat the guerrillas. President Mahinda Rajapakse also said LTTE may not have been behind a string of recent bombings on the island, and pointed at the possible involvement of political and business interests. "We will hit if we are hit," the president said of his military strategy. more..

President defends scrapping cease-fire in civil war with Tamil Tiger rebels

Jan 23 (AP) President defended his internationally criticized decision to scrap a cease-fire deal with the Tamil Tiger rebels, saying Tuesday that his patience wore thin because the insurgents increased attacks on civilians. "I waited for two years to do it. I warned the terrorists not to harm any civilians, but they were doing it," President Mahinda Rajapaksa said at a meeting with journalists. The government routinely calls the Tigers terrorists. more..

Dayan Jayatilake elected Chair of Anti-Racist UN working group

Jan 23 (TC) At a time when charges are being made in various circles that xenophobic and racist tendencies are on the rise in Sri lanka, a UN body has elected a Sri Lankan envoy to the UN as its new chairperson. Sri Lanka’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations at Geneva, H.E. Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka was elected by unanimous acclamation as the Chairperson of the Intergovernmental Working Group (IGWG) on the Effective Implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action. more..

Call for end to Tamil deportations

Jan 23 (SI) Following the renewed violence in Sri Lanka, the Swiss Refugee Council has called on the government to suspend deportations of failed asylum seekers to that country. In a statement, the organisation pointed out that most Sri Lankan asylum seekers in Switzerland were Tamils from the war-torn north and west of the country. The Council also urged Swiss authorities to expedite asylum applications received at the Swiss embassy in Colombo. more..

Srilanka to introduce ET technology in dairy sector

Jan 23 (CO) In order to achieve maximum output from country’s milk sector, Srilankan government has decided to introduce latest Embryo Transfer technology to the industry. Srilankan National Livestock Development Board, the Australian Government and the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of the University of Peradeniya recently launched this Embryo Transfer Project and so far 200 high breed frozen embryos of Jersey Holstein Friesian and AFS breeds from Australia have been brought to Sri Lanka. more..

Ravi, wife and father-in-law pickpocket Rs. 20 million from a foreigner

Jan 23 (LeN) Colombo Fort Magistrate and Additional District Judge Namal Bandara ordered the CID yesterday (21) to probe the bank accounts of a company belonged to UNP Colombo district MP Ravi Karunanayaka over an alleged misappropriation of Euro 145,000 invested in the company by a foreign national. CID made a request from the court to probe the accounts based on a complaint lodged by Antonian P. Strawicks who is a resident of Sri Lanka for 22 years. more..

LTTE 'not responsible' for blasts

Jan 23 (BBC) The President of Sri Lanka, Mahinda Rajapaksa, has accused the LTTE of trying to divert focus of the security forces by launching attacks in the south. It was an attempt by the Tamil Tigers, Mr. Rajapaksa told journalists in Colombo on Tuesday, to divert attention of the military movements to Wanni. The LTTE is accused of killing over 27 civilians and injuring at least 60 in Buttala on 16 January. more..

Road project to help poorest districts in Sri Lanka

Jan 23 (AHN) Japan and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) are supporting a pilot project that will combine rural road work and the creation of income-generating opportunities in the poorest districts of Sri Lanka. The project will be funded by a US$2 million grant from the Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction to be managed by ADB. The government of Sri Lanka and project beneficiaries will contribute $245,000 to complete the funding requirement, more..

Underwater defence system in place to check Sea Tigers

Jan 23 (Hindu) The Sri Lankan Navy has put in place an “underwater defence system” between Kachchatheevu and Neduntheevu (Delft Island) as part of efforts to curtail the movement of Sea Tigers of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. A communication about laying of sea mines was sent to the Indian Navy. The Sri Lankan Navy wanted the Indian Navy to warn Tamil Nadu fishermen against crossing the International Maritime Boundary Line. more..

APRC: Once more to the past

Jan 23 (ML) Today is the deadline for the APRC proposals. Given the hullabaloo that attended its establishment and the expectations invested in it by the international community no less, this should be a landmark event in the transformation of the conflict and the constitutional order of the country. The APRC after all was set up to epitomise the paradigm shift from the flawed and failed modus operandi of previous regimes. more..

Monkeying around with the ethnic conflict

Jan 23 (ML) Even as President Mahinda Rajapakse started last week to kiss Indian posteriors in a bid to settle for the 13th Amendment as a final solution to the ethnic conflict, a gallon of petrol was to hit an all time high of Rs.571.50. While the economic burdens become unbearable and the government continues to blame the rising cost of international fuel prices for the drastic price hike in fuel last Sunday the JVP that condemned previous regimes for raising prices by a much smaller amount due to international increases remains dumb struck. more..

LG polls — TNA to decide on stance this week

Jan 23 (ML) The Tamil National Alliance will take a decision this week on its stance on the local government polls in the east, TNA Parliamentary Group leader R. Sampanthan told The Morning Leader. The TNA is to take a decision following the Supreme Court ruling on Monday that it would not stop the LG polls in the east. Sampanthan stated that the TNA members would meet during the course of this week to make a decision. more..

First Lady accused of coercion at CPSTL

Jan 23 (ML) First Lady Shiranthi Rajapakse’s interference in management decisions at Ceylon Petroleum Storage Terminal Limited (CPSTL) has irked its employees, CPSTL trade union sources said. Despite the management’s strong opposition Shiranthi Rajapakse has directed the Chairman of CPSTL to downgrade two of its security guards as porters, which compelled Chairman Asantha de Mel to follow instructions with immediate effect, sources further claimed. more..

Military-LTTE trade charges on casualties

Jan 23 (ML) Heavy fighting continued in the northern frontlines with both the military and the LTTE reporting conflicting casualty figures. Over 45 combatants from both sides may have been killed in the last two days if figures quoted by the two sides are correct. Fighting was reported along the Jaffna, Vavuniya-Mannar and the Welioya FDL in the last 48 hours. "Sixteen LTTE terrorists were killed in several sporadic incidents in Vavuniya, Mannar and Welioya yesterday (21)," more..

SriLankan to sue Mihin for Rs 100m non-payment

Jan 23 (BL) Emirates-managed national carrier SriLankan Airlines has threatened government-owned budget Mihin Lanka, it would be sued, if over Rs. 100 million due for ground handling and other services provided, is not settled. The warning, in writing, by SriLankan Airlines CEO Peter Hill, was communicated to Mihin Lanka CEO Sajin Vas Gunawardena last week. Hill’s salvo follows Sajin firing a letter to SriLankan Airlines making various allegations over the withdrawal of ground handling services on January 1, 2008, to Mihin Lanka. more..

Loss-making Mihin on a spend spree at tax payers cost

Jan 23 (BL) The controversial government owned budget airline, Mihin Lanka has launched a massive publicity drive at a staggering cost running into millions, The Bottom Line learns. Aviation industry sources said that the airline has launched a massive advertising campaign on both print and electronic media on a daily basis advertising its destinations, also including special offers such as ‘buy one, get one free,’ promotion. more..

Government forced to make amends for scrapping CFA

Jan 23 (BL) The CFA, no doubt, wasn’t a perfect document. But, the fact that it survived for six long years was proof of what a well-structured document it was. But, the government imprudently, decided to throw the baby with the bath. For one whole week, we saw the consequences of the government’s act of indiscretion. The government could not contain the terror unleashed in the Moneragala district. more..

Chilcott’s ‘hot’ remarks under further scrutiny

Jan 23 (BL) Now that the blood rush with his statements has simmered down, it may be worth having a fresh perspective on what he said! That Dudley Senanayake, unlike most politicians today, was one who came forward because the country needed him; he would have welcomed the 17th amendment to the constitution; had the agreement Dudley signed with the moderate Tamil leadership in 1965 been implemented it is quite possible that Sri Lanka today would have been a vibrant, prosperous, multi-ethnic country at peace with itself. more..

Killings and gross violations of rights abuses further divide ethnic groups

Jan 23 (IL) Killings and gross violations of human rights abuses should not be used as the last resort in any wars around the world. But cruel fact is that this is absolutely true in the case of Sri Lanka where both parties resort to killings and human rights violations and blame each other for the escalation of rights abuses and killings of each other's members. Regardless of who is doing it, all these actions will add further fuel to the already burning issue. more..

Video Playlist: Walk the Talk with President

Jan 23 (MB) It’s 20 years since the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) carried out its operation against the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka. At a time of renewed fighting between the Sri Lankan army and the rebels, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa spoke to The Indian Express Editor-in-Chief Shekhar Gupta on NDTV 24x7’s Walk the Talk. In the first part of the interview, he says sending back the IPKF was a wrong political decision taken by the then president, Premadasa. more..

Patriotic people in this country are prepared to teach what Arbour and her kind have not learnt from any other country! – JVP

Jan 23 (LT) The patriotic people in this country are prepared to teach a lesson that Louise Arbour and her kind have never learnt from anywhere else in the world says Information secretary of the JVP Wimal Weerawansa. Mr. Weerawansa said this addressing a protest campaign held by the JVP opposite main office of the UNO in Sri Lanka. The campaign was held to protest against the statement made by Ms. Louise Arbour, more..

Sri Lanka firms need rules for employee internet use: expert

Jan 23 (LBO) Sri Lankan employers should enforce rules on e-mail and internet access to prevent misuse of company property and avoid potential legal problems, an expert told a law conference in the capital Colombo. Employers have to strike a balance between giving employees access to modern information communications technology that could enhance productivity and monitoring their use to prevent abuse, Malathi Das told the LAWASIA ICT 2008 conference. more..

Sri Lanka bans import of live birds from India

Jan 23 (LBO) Sri Lanka on Wednesday banned imports of live birds and chickens from India following an outbreak of bird flu in the neighbouring country, an official said. "Poultry imports from India have been banned with immediate effect, following an outbreak of bird flu," Sri Lanka's Department of Animal Production and Health's additional director general, G. Wijesiri said. Colombo's decision came after India reported an outbreak from the village of Margam and more..

Sri Lanka's Boxers leave for Asian Olympic trials

Jan 23 (ABA) Two of Sri Lanka's most experienced boxers Kamal Sameera and Manju Wanniarachchi both from Slimline BC left the island yesterday to participate in the second Asian Olympic Trials to be worked off in Bangkok, Thailand. Wanniarachchi who will compete in the 51 kgs weight class event is a talented boxer who had previously captained the Sri Lanka team at several international meets. more..

UNP politburo decides not to contest east polls

Jan 23 (LD) The United National Party decided at a meeting of its politburo this morning (Jan. 23rd) against contesting elections for nine local government bodies in eastern Batticaloa district. In light of government inaction to curb heightened violence by armed group in the province, the UNP does not believe the polls will be free and fair, the party’s General Secretary Tissa Attanayake said. more..

JVP won’t allow politicians or military to be brought before war tribunals

Jan 23 (LD) The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna today (Jan. 23rd) gave a stern warning against any attempts to take local politicians or the military before the International War Crimes Tribunal. Any such attempt by Louise Arbour or other persons could be done only over the dead body of the last JVP member who lays down his life for the defence of the nation, the party’s Propaganda Secretary Wimal Weerawansa said. more..

Prelate stresses need for eradicating terrorism to bring peace

Jan 23 (GDI) The Chief Prelate of the Malwatte Chapter the Most Ven. Thibbatuwawe Sri Siddhartha Sumangala Thero is of the view that the political solution mainly focused on addressing the graveness of the Tamil community should be based on Provincial Council system as a viable answer to the problem. Ven. Thero also highlighted the importance of eradicating terrorism in order to pass the real benefits of the political solution to the Tamil community who have had to suffer all manner of depravations thanks to the LTTE terrorists. more..

'APRC proposals not for terrorists but for patriotic Sri Lankans of all communities'

Jan 23 (GDI) President Mahinda Rajapaksa said that the sole objective of the All Party Representative Committee (APRC) is to project a political solution acceptable to all communities with respecpect to the crises in the country. The President expressed the firm belief that the process would yield a satisfactory solution to the Tamil community who are the worst effected by LTTE atrocities. more..

Tourism chief refutes 'travel ban' story

Jan 23 (GDI) "There is no travel ban from any country to Sri Lanka, though there are travel advisories issued by the governments of certain countries which are updated from time to time," said the Chairman of the Sri Lanka Tourism, Renton de Alwis addressing the media on Monday (21). "The travel advisories may differ depending on the particular situation in the country. A few countries have issued warnings against visiting Sri Lanka but this does not amount to a ban." more..

Abrogation of CFA not a hasty decision -President

Jan 23 (GDI) President Mahinda Rajapaksa said yesterday (22) that the abrogation of the Ceasefire Agreement with the LTTE was not a hasty decision. The President, discussing the current political situation with the heads of media institutions at Temple Trees, also said that he had always been opposed to it. "I moved the Adjournment Motion in Parliament against it on March 04, 2002, within a month of it being signed. I told the country that I would abrogate it during the Presidential Election campaign. more..

"Full implementation of Thirteenth Amendment will help restore normalcy"

Jan 23 (GDI) Minister of Disaster Management and Human Rights, Mahinda Samarasinghe in a statement said that the full implementation of the Thirteenth Amendment can help restore normalcy to the East. He was also of the view that such implementation will help monitor and be responsive to basic Human Rights issues at the local level. This will not only promote the civil and political rights of the people but also ensure the realization of economic, social and cultural rights of its constituents, he pointed out. more..

Terrorist calendar sold in London

Jan 23 (GDI) The terrorist outfit LTTE, proscribed by the European Union, the United States and India has sold a calendar in public apparently depicting the logo of the terrorist movement and the map of the would-be separate state of 'Tamils outside Hindu temples in London earlier this month, in what is reported to be in an act of defiance against British authorities, news sources inform. more..

Teen aged job seeker from Batti. raped in Sri Lanka

Jan 23 (LNP) A teen aged Tamil girl from Batticaloa who had come to a Maradana employment agency accompanied by two foreign employment sub agents, is alleged to have been raped at a lodge in Maradana. A suspect was taken into custody. According to the complaint, the girl aged (19) who was a native from Karadiyanaru in Batticaloa, she had visited Colombo accompanied by two sub agents who had made arrangements to accommodate her in a lodge in Maradana. more..

BOI facility abused claims Customs union

Jan 23 (LNP) The All Ceylon Customs Service Union said an influential business tycoon imports vehicle components and assembles luxury vehicles at a workshop in the premises of an industrial zone at Veyangoda that belongs to the Board of Investment. Right now there are over one hundred such luxury vehicles assembled and kept ready for sale at much cheaper prices than imported vehicles. more..

Batti poll may be a bombshell: Ranil

Jan 23 (SAMN) The main opposition UNP Tuesday called for the immediate reactivation of the Constitutional Council and the establishment of Independent Commissions to ensure free and fair elections in the East. Speaking at a meeting of party professionals, UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe warned that the elections in Batticaloa would be marred by violence because of government-backed armed groups operating in the East. more..

UNP,JVP to oppose licence fee increase

Jan 23 (SAMN) Both the UNP and the JVP are to oppose a motion to increase revenue licence fees for vehicles in the Western Province which is to be presented by Western Province Chief Minister Reginold Cooray at the provincial council sessions today. Western Provincial Council Opposition Leader Kithsiri Kahatapitiya said the UNP would oppose it as it was not fair to put more burden on the people who were already suffering immensely due to the cost of living which had more..

If others are disarmed, we will: TMVP

Jan 23 (SAMN) The Tamil Makkal Viduthalaip Pulikal (TMVP) said Tuesday it stands ready to disarm if other recognised political groups including the EPDP are also disarmed. The outfit led by Pillayan in the absence of Karuna Amman who is in British police custody also asserted that its political activities would not go hand in hand with its military wing which is very active in the East. more..

Probe mega frauds: JVP

Jan 23 (SAMN) The JVP Tuesday blamed President Mahinda Rajapaksa for failing to probe the mega frauds and irregularities revealed and highlighted by the parliamentary Committee on Public Enterprises and the Public Accounts Committee. JVP trade union leader K.D. Lal Kantha said even though one of South Asia’s biggest scams was reported from the Inland Revenue Department which came under the President as the Finance Minister, unfortunately the President and the government appeared to be attempting to suppress the investigations. more..

Massive development projects launched in Aranayake

Jan 23 (DN) The Government has taken steps to develop Aranayake electorate through Gama Neguma, Maga Neguma and Jathika Saviya programmes, said Lalith Dissanayaka, Minister of Health and Indigenous Medicine, Sabaragamuwa PC and SLFP Chief Organiser to the Daily News. A major part of Aranayake constituency in Kegalle district is typically rural and under-developed and is the home to some of the most indigent families in Kegalle district with a very low income. more..

Great change in East after liberation

Jan 23 (DN) There is a general re-awakening in the East after its liberation from the LTTE, President Mahinda Rajapaksa said yesterday. "There is a change, a vast change. One must see it to believe it," President Rajapaksa told the media yesterday. He said the business chambers from the East that met him yesterday had appreciated the Government's development drive in the region. more..

Delayed rice imports would only help racketeers: Tilvin

Jan 23 (Island) The JVP yesterday said that the import of a large stock of rice to control rising prices would benefit politically influential racketeers if imports come in just ahead of the next Yala harvest. JVP General Secretary Tilvin Silva said that the availability of large stocks would automatically force debt-ridden farmers to sell their produce at low prices. This would directly benefit what he called the politically powerful rice cartel. more..

War shouldn’t deny people of FR – Ranil

Jan 23 (Island) The UNP said that a democratic government has to protect the fundamental rights of the people first before implementing a military campaign. When the Al Qaeda organisation attacked the US in 2001, the US Supreme Court said that the government has to go against the attack without affecting the fundamental rights of the US people. UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe said that the LTTE is going to rule the country by the ‘bullet’ and not by election. more..

US voices doubts about free polls in eastern Sri Lanka

Jan 23 (IANS) US ambassador Robert O. Blake Wednesday expressed doubts if the upcoming local elections in Sri Lanka's eastern Tamil-speaking district of Batticaloa would be free and fair. 'The US does not believe that free and fair elections can be held if some (political) parties are armed,' Blake said in Batticaloa at a function organised by USAID. He further said that if 'paramilitary' groups carrying arms illegally were allowed to intimidate others, more..

Sri Lanka devolution panel to suggest only administrative changes

Jan 23 (IANS) The report of the Sri Lankan panel on devolution of powers, which is to be submitted to President Mahinda Rajapaksa Wednesday, will suggest only 'administrative changes' and avoid recommending any 'structural alterations' in the country's constitution. 'What we are going to submit this evening is entirely within the existing constitution,' Prof Tissa Vitharana, chairperson of the All Party Representative Committee (APRC) on devolution, told IANS. more..

Interim arrangement gets go ahead from minority parties

Jan 23 (DM) Minority parties, including the SLMC and the EPDP, who are represented in the All Party Representative Committee (APRC), yesterday endorsed the move by President Rajapaksa, to introduce an ‘interim arrangement’ for the resolution of the ethnic conflict through the Committee, including the proposal to hold Provincial Council elections for the Eastern Province that was de-merged from the North in 2006. more..

Narrow escape for 40 police officers

Jan 23 (DM) A claymore mine weighing eight kilos was yesterday recovered from under a roadside transformer by the Kalpitiya police during a search operation. Puttalam Senior Superintendent Roshan Fernando was scheduled to make his annual inspection visit to the police station yesterday and a parade was to be held later at the nearby school grounds. However at the eleventh hour SSP Fernando had instructed that the parade be held at the police grounds instead of the school grounds. more..

Special unit on hunt for LTTE in TN

Jan 23 (AA) The Q branch of the Tamil Nadu police, which has stepped up vigil against Tamil Tigers in the state, is on the lookout for nearly 50 suspected LTTE operatives who, it believes, have been working with Thambidurai Padmanabhan, a man from the Tigers’ intelligence wing arrested last week in Chennai. An alert has been sounded at Chennai airport and coastal districts for these missing LTTE suspects, sources here said. more..

LTTE chief will be handed over to India if captured: Rajapaksa

Jan 23 (PTI) Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa has promised to hand over V Prabhakaran to India to face trial in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case if the elusive LTTE supremo is captured. In the event of Prabhakaran getting caught, he would be tried for offences in the island country and then handed over to India for trial over the killing of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, he said during an interaction with foreign correspondents here. more..