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Pentagon sends advanced surveillance team to train Sri Lanka’s military
Published Date: 23/12/2016 (Friday)
Early this month, a group of US naval officers flew out of the Mattala Rajapakse International Airport at Hambantota in southern Sri Lanka after a week-long training exercise with Sri Lankan naval and air force personnel. No public information was released about the visit until the US embassy in Colombo issued a statement on December 13, two days after the US naval officers departed.
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Politicos give priority to political agendas, not reconciliation: Prof. Sarath Wijesooriya
Published Date: 23/12/2016 (Friday)
Politicians give priority to their political agendas and not to the reconciliation process, Prof. Sarath Wijesooriya said at a discussion at the National Library and Documentation. The theme of the discussion organised by the National Fraternity Collective and National Shura Council was 'Say NO to Communalism - YES to National Unity'.
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UN shows concern over Lanka’s proposed counter-terrorism laws
Published Date: 23/12/2016 (Friday)
The United Nations has expressed several concerns to the Government about its proposed new counter-terrorism legislation including over a clause that allows admission of confessions made without lawyers present, said Una McCauley, UN Resident Coordinator in Sri Lanka. “There are a number of concerns that we had flagged up including the admission of confessions that were not made with lawyers present, the 72-hour initial holding period where international legal standards say 48 hours, the process of arrest and the levels of authority around when arrests can and should be made, as well as text around what is considered a terrorist act or an associated terrorist act,” Ms. McCauley said in an interview with the Sunday Times. “So, ensuring that there’s tighter language around that.”
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News websites distort truth and give wrong impression about Sri Lanka – President
Published Date: 22/12/2016 (Thursday)
President Maithripala Sirisena yesterday said that "irresponsible stories" published by news websites and social media have given a wrong impression to Sri Lankan expatriates as well as to the international community. He said the government is not trying to divide the country or remove army camps from the North. Claims by these websites that the government is planning to neutralize or weaken the army are also totally baseless.
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India in quandary over new govt’s relationship with China - Gotabhaya
Published Date: 22/12/2016 (Thursday)
Former Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa yesterday told The Island that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was certainly in a quandary over the Maithripala Sirisena-Wickremesinghe administration’s partnership with China. India had strongly opposed to the previous government’s relationship with China and thrown its weight behind the Opposition at the last presidential polls in January 2015, Rajapaksa said. The former Defence Secretary said India couldn’t be happy that the government was going ahead with all Chinese projects launched during the previous administration.
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New Constitution: You Will Lose A Referendum Only Because Of Corruption
Published Date: 22/12/2016 (Thursday)
I am told that when we talk about the new Constitution, various persons are getting worried about a referendum. Now, we have very clearly said and I want to repeat what my Leader has said in this House and in the Constitutional Assembly. He said, “We want a new Constitution that all the people of this country approve of, that definitely must include or should include the majority people of this country. A Constitution will not stay as a Constitution of the country if the majority of the people do not accept it.” So, we are not trying to do something that the majority people of this country do not want.
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Change of govt. predicted by Mahinda: Govt. MPs seek to allay China’s concern about ‘instability’ in Sri Lanka
Published Date: 21/12/2016 (Wednesday)
State Minister of Skills Development and Vocational Training Minister Palitha Ranga Bandara, MP, has claimed that China is in dilemma over the political situation in Sri Lanka, especially in the wake of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s recent claim in Beijing that there could be a change of government in Colombo soon. State Minister Bandara said that Chinese authorities, investors as well as civil society representatives had inquired about statements on the stability of the UNP-SLFP coalition administration attributed to various persons including former President Rajapaksa.
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Rajapaksa opposes government's plan to empower chief ministers
Published Date: 21/12/2016 (Wednesday)
Sri Lanka's former President Mahinda Rajapaksa has warned the government against antagonising the Sinhala majority by "appeasing" the country's Tamil community by mulling to grant more powers to provincial chief ministers in the proposed constitutional reform process. In the recent weeks, there has been a debate over a reported demand by the main Tamil Party -- Tamil National Alliance (TNA) -- to curb the powers of the provincial governors in order to empower the provincial chief ministers. Addressing public gatherings, Rajapaksa said even in India the provincial governor executes the presidential authority.
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Conditional approval for 10,000 prefab houses in North
Published Date: 20/12/2016 (Tuesday)
The Cabinet has granted conditional approval to French steel giant ArcelorMittal to build 10,000 prefabricated houses for the war-affected in Mullaitivu and Kilinochchi districts, a senior official said. “It was decided that 10,000 houses could be erected in the two districts, provided that the people wanted them,” the official explained. Resettlement Minister D.M. Swaminathan confirmed to the Sunday Times that the specified number of 10,000 dwellings had been sanctioned but this newspaper learns the approval is conditional. The Minister has been pushing for the project—initially numbered at 65,000 steel prefabricated houses from ArcelorMittal at an estimated US$ 1 billion—since mid-2015. However, progress has been slow due to strong resistance from civil society, housing experts and local and national politicians including all Tamil National Alliance parliamentarians. Northern Province Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran and the Jaffna District Coordinating Committee are also against the project.
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Will UNHRC live up to its commitments to Sri Lanka?
Published Date: 16/12/2016 (Friday)
The United Nations Security Council and Human Rights Council, (UNHRC) has maintained inexplicable and depressing silence over the several incidents of massacres, racial pogroms, including extra-judicial killings and torture which were blatantly carried out by the security forces and political party hooligans in 1956, 1958, 1961, 1971, 1977, 1983, 1989 and from 2006 to May 2009.
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Re-appointing MR Chairman of SLFP Case put off for 20 Feb
Published Date: 15/12/2016 (Thursday)
The District Court of Colombo yesterday (14) decided to take up for hearing on 20 February 2017 the case seeking a Court order to re-appoint former President Mahinda Rajapaksa as the Chairman of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP). This plaint, filed in the District Court of Colombo, states that former General Secretary of the SLFP Anura Priyadharshana Yapa had violated the Party constitution and handed over the Chairmanship to President Maithripala Sirisena.
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Delimitation Committee Report delayed again
Published Date: 15/12/2016 (Thursday)
The publication of the report compiled by the National Delimitation Committee headed by Ashoka Peries has been delayed once again. The Report of the Committee set up to look into complaints arising from delimitation of new wards, was scheduled to be handed over to the Minister of Local Governments and Provincial Councils today. However speaking to NewsRadio Secretary to the Ministry of Local Governments and Provincial Council Kamal Padmasiri said the Committee has requested an extension to the deadline.
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No clear Govt reaction to Executive Presidency
Published Date: 15/12/2016 (Thursday)
Chairman of the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna Prof. G.L. Peiris, in an interview with the Ceylon Today said, the government has not yet declared its official stance on the Executive Presidency The government must tell us what stand it has adopted on the Executive Presidency; whether it will abolish it as promised, or whether it has decided to retain it with limited powers, or whether it has changed its mind, Prof. Peiris said.
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Autonomy to North east under Federalism is our demand -Mavai Senathirajah
Published Date: 15/12/2016 (Thursday)
Q How do you analyse the current political situation of the North? Our people are worried today because both the United National Party (UNP) and the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), as the two main parties, talk about a political solution within a unitary State. We, the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), received a mandate from our people to secure power devolution under a Federal Constitution. That is fully-pledged power devolution between the centre and the provinces. That means autonomy should be given to the North and the East as they are the traditional areas of habitation of Tamils and Muslims. People gave a mandate to the TNA to achieve this. Our understanding now is that the UNP and the SLFP insist on retaining the unitary character. It would pave the way for the ‘division of people’ and the country. The UNP even adopted a resolution at the recent Working Committee to this effect. Yet, a Federal system can unite the three communities - the Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims. It is a method experienced in various countries.
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Sri Lanka wins ‘Award for Excellence in Human Development Reporting’ for national and regional reports
Published Date: 14/12/2016 (Wednesday)
Sri Lanka wins ‘Award for Excellence in Human Development Reporting’ for national and regional reports New York: Sri Lanka was among the four countries which won Awards for Excellence in Human Development Reporting at a ceremony held at the United Nations Headquarters on 6 December. The award recognises recent national and regional human development reports that have excelled in crafting and promoting human solutions to development challenges.
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TN leaders knew Prabhakaran would kill them to rule Eelam: Menon
Published Date: 14/12/2016 (Wednesday)
Leaders of Tamil Nadu, across the political divide, privately but effectively supported the Indian government’s policy of opposing efforts by the US and Norway to rescue Velupillai Prabhakaran so that his Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) lived to fight another day, says Shivshankar Menon, India’s former National Security Adviser (NSA) in his book; “Choices: Inside the Making of India’s Foreign Policy”.
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Government Will Not Probe Intel Chief
Published Date: 13/12/2016 (Tuesday)
The government will not investigate allegations raised against the head of intelligence Sisira Mendis despite calls to do so by a UN committee. State Minister of Defence Ruwan Wijewardene told The Sunday Leader that he does not see any need to investigate Mendis as the allegations against him are baseless. However Ruwan Wijewardene said the government will look into the concerns raised by the UN committee. The UN Committee against torture last week issued the government a deadline to investigate the allegations on Sisira Mendis.
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Mahinda, Ranil, Sampanthan discuss constitutional reforms
Published Date: 13/12/2016 (Tuesday)
A special meeting attended by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Opposition leader R.Sampanthan and Joint Opposition members was held at the Prime Minister’s Office at Parliament yesterday to discuss the proposed constitutional reforms. Former President Rajapaksa and Joint Opposition members said that the government should first reveal what its proposals.
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PREPARING THE GROUND FOR CONSTITUTIONAL REFORM
Published Date: 13/12/2016 (Tuesday)
There seems to be a rethinking on the part of the government regarding the nature and extent of constitutional reform. The SLFP is of the stance that the Constitution should be amended without going in for a referendum. SLFP media spokesman Minister Dilan Perera said “We have spoken with the President and taken a clear decision on this. Electoral reforms must take place and a new system introduced and we believe in maximum devolution of power within a unitary state. We have also made it clear that we will not support the merger of provinces or to lessen the power of the governors to make it a nominal position.” For its part, the UNP has taken the position that it would support a system where the office of executive president would continue with special powers that the 19th Amendment to the Constitution had conferred.
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Phantoms of Mahinda Rajapaksa and Sri Lanka’s reign of terror
Published Date: 11/12/2016 (Sunday)
Mahinda Rajapaksa sits at a desk in his party office beneath a photo of himself. He’s not especially tall but solid in the chest and arms; like an old rugby prop, his head seems to rest on his shoulders without much need for a neck. He’s never seen in public without his brown scarf, supposedly signifying the sweaty rags of Sri Lanka’s hard-toiling farmers. On his fingers this man of the people wears three chunky gold rings and on his wrist a bracelet of jade balls. Everyone here still calls him Mr President.
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BUDDHIST NATIONALISM AND RELIGIOUS VIOLENCE IN ŚRI LANKĀ
Published Date: 11/12/2016 (Sunday)
While this Sangha. . . has democracy, it has neither [a] special country nor nation nor caste. To such a society which has no country, nation, or caste, every human being is the same. . . . Those who fight against the Tamils are not Buddhists. —Naravila Dhammaratana[1]
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Reconciliation in Sri Lanka: Mission Impossible?
Published Date: 11/12/2016 (Sunday)
During the past few years much has been spoken and written about the need for reconciliation between the different communities in Sri Lanka. The Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) was appointed by President Mahinda Rajapakse to hear what was needed to be done to bring about reconciliation among the tattered communities in the country. This Commission’s recommendations did not receive the earnest consideration they deserved. Instead that regime continued to indulge in activities that made the possibility of a reconciliation become more remote.
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Gazette Issued in 1818 by British Governor Brownrigg Branding 19 “Wellassa” Patriots Including Keppetipola as “Traitors” Cancelled by President Sirisena
Published Date: 10/12/2016 (Saturday)
In a politically significant act which could help him garner the support of Sinhalese nationalists, Sri Lanka’s President Maithripala Sirisena, on Thursday cleared the names of 19 Sinhalese chiefs who were officially branded as ‘traitors’ by the British rulers of the island 198 years ago. The President’s media division said that Sirisena cancelled a gazette issued by the then British Governor, Lt.Gen.Robert Brownrigg on January 10, 1818, listing the 19 leaders, including Keppetipola Disawe as traitors.
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Sri Lanka decides to achieve sustainable development goals by 2030
Published Date: 10/12/2016 (Saturday)
Sri Lanka's Cabinet of Ministers has taken the decision to appoint a Ministerial Sub-Committee to define and to achieve success in reaching the sustainable development goals of Sri Lanka by 2030. This decision was based on a memorandum submitted by President Maithripala Sirisena to the Cabinet.
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Govt. losing battle to quell extremist groups, warns JVP
Published Date: 09/12/2016 (Friday)
The JVP yesterday slammed the Government for failing to protect the religious rights of Sri Lankans and accused it of providing validation for extremist organisations that are still working to whip up ethnic disharmony in the country while calling for an investigation into how these organisations are funded. JVP MP Vijitha Herath yesterday made an impassioned speech in Parliament calling on the Government to probe alleged links between the former Government headed by President Mahinda Rajapaksa and organisations such as the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS).
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