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UNP won’t take back Tissa, asks him to give up national list slot
Former UNP General Secretary Tissa Attanayake, MP has expressed his desire to return to the party, but the UNP won’t take him back, according to political sources.

Responding to a query, a senior UNP politician yesterday pointed out that Attanayake had switched his allegiance to then President and UPFA presidential candidate Mahinda Rajapaksa at a crucial juncture and gone so far as to declare that the UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe and the Opposition candidate Maithripala Sirisena had signed a secret agreement meant to appease the four-party Tamil National Alliance (TNA), sources said. (The Island)

Narendra Modi to arrive in Sri Lanka on March 14th
In an exceptional move to strengthen the relationship between the two neighboring countries, leaders of Sri Lanka and India will visit each other's country back to back in the next two months.

President Maithripala Sirisena visit New Delhi on February 14th and 15th and it will be President's first overseas visit after his victory at the January 08th election. (Hiru News)

Vehicle was only lent to me - Jackson Anthony
Popular artiste Jackson Anthony today denied allegations that a luxury vehicle without number plates belonging to a government ministry was recovered from his home.

He said at a media briefing that the vehicle found parked by his residence was not gifted to him but only given to him on a temporary basis to be used for his Travel TV show productions in order to promote the company’s vehicles. (Daily Mirror)

Govt. to heed BASL's advice on CJ
The National Executive Committee (NEC) has decided to take up the advice and recommendations of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) as relayed to the Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe that the 44th Chief Justice Mohan Peiris stands removed, President of the BASL, Upul Jayasuriya said.

Following a discussion held by a large group of senior lawyers of the BASL with regards to options concerning the removal of Peiris, a smaller group comprised of Jayasuriya, Deputy President of the BASL Prasanna Jayawardena, President's Counsels Faiz Musthapha,...Romesh de Silva, M. Shibly Aziz, M. Ikram Mohamed and K. Kanag-Isvaran met Wickremesinghe on Monday (26) night to advise the government. (ceylontoday)

Obama says there is new hope for democracy in Sri Lanka
President of the United States, Barack Obama, said that there is new hope for democracy in Sri Lanka and that India can play a positive role in helping countries like Sri Lanka forge a better future.

“Of course, as I’ve said before, with power comes responsibility. In this region, India can play a positive role in helping countries forge a better future, from Burma to Sri Lanka, where today there’s new hope for democracy. (The (Ada Derana)

International audit firms tasked with probing Basil, Wimal
Housing and Samurdhi Minister Sajith Premadasa has engaged two internationally renowned auditing firms, Ernst & Young and PricewaterhouseCoopers to probe Housing and Samurdhi portfolios previously held by National Freedom Front (NFF) leader Wimal Weerawansa and former SLFP National Organiser Basil Rajapaksa, respectively.

A senior spokesperson for the Housing and Samurdhi Ministry told The Island that Ernst & Young and PricewaterhouseCoopers would probe Housing and Samurdhi portfolios, respectively. (The Island)

Police file report on Rakna Lanka armoury
Cinnamon Gardens Police today filed a report describing and listing the weapons recovered from the Rakna Lanka Armoury located at the BMICH. -

The report states that on January 20 the Police checked the armoury after having obtained a search warrant from the Colombo Chief Magistrate. It was carried out in the presence of retired Major General Wijekoon Bandara and several journalists. (Daily Mirror)

Police file report on Rakna Lanka armoury
Cinnamon Gardens Police today filed a report describing and listing the weapons recovered from the Rakna Lanka Armoury located at the BMICH. -

The report states that on January 20 the Police checked the armoury after having obtained a search warrant from the Colombo Chief Magistrate. It was carried out in the presence of retired Major General Wijekoon Bandara and several journalists. (Daily Mirror)

Narendra Modi to arrive in Sri Lanka on March 14th
In an exceptional move to strengthen the relationship between the two neighboring countries, leaders of Sri Lanka and India will visit each other's country back to back in the next two months.

President Maithripala Sirisena visit New Delhi on February 14th and 15th and it will be President's first overseas visit after his victory at the January 08th election. (Hiru news)

MR says media blitz to vilify him
Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa in a statement today charged that a media blitz had been unleashed to vilify him and mislead the public instead of following a proper procedure to act on allegeations of wrongdoing against anybody.

Numerous allegations have been levelled against me, my family and my government both before and after the recent presidential election. (Daily Mirror)

Depressing memories of a ‘battered’ minority
I am getting a little tired of all the hype of Mahinda Rajapaksa being the worst and most autocratic President of this country. - See more at:

Everyone else has conveniently forgotten J.R Jayewardene the architect of the 1978 Executive Presidency - See more at: (The Nation)

Sri Lanka's new chief sees strong growth, chances of lower rates
A day after taking over as governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, Arjuna Mahendran said interest rates can be reduced below current record lows once inflationary expectations flatten out, and called for an overhaul of the tax system to help businesses.

Mahendran was appointed by the new government of President Maithripala Sirisena's New Democratic Front, which won an election on Jan. 8, and has taken over an economy that is growing strongly, though fuelled by worrying levels of debt. (REUTERS)

Sri Lankan rupee down on importer dlr demand; market seeks clarity
Sri Lankan rupee forwards traded weaker on Tuesday on importer dollar demand while the market awaited clarity on the new government's economic policies and exporters remained on the sidelines amid fears of depreciation.

Four-day forwards were actively traded and stood at 133.30/133.50 per dollar by 0833 GMT, compared with Monday's close of 133.00/20. (REUTERS)

Sri Lankan government promises “devolution pact” to woo Tamil elite
Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe declared last week that his government would implement the 13th amendment to the country’s constitution.

After nearly three decades, the amendment, which provided for the limited devolution of powers to the Tamil elite on a provincial level in the island’s north and east, has never been carried out fully. (WSWS)

Modi is very interested in Sri Lanka - Ranil
Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said in Colombo on Monday, that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is ‘very interested’ in Sri Lanka and the region, and that this augurs well for Sri Lanka which is in the threshold of a new era.

Wickremesinghe was speaking at the Indian High Commission reception to mark the 66 th Indian Republic Day. (The Nation)

Modi is very interested in Sri Lanka - Ranil
Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said in Colombo on Monday, that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is ‘very interested’ in Sri Lanka and the region, and that this augurs well for Sri Lanka which is in the threshold of a new era.

Wickremesinghe was speaking at the Indian High Commission reception to mark the 66 th Indian Republic Day. (The Nation)

Police to probe Duminda’s accounts
Police Spokesman Ajith Rohana said today a Court Order was obtained from the Colombo Magistrate’s Court to check all accounts held by Colombo District United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) MP Duminda Silva at several banks and financial institutions.

The Court Order was based on a statement made by narcotics kingpin ‘Wele Suda’ and included the checking of accounts held by two others as well. (Daily Mirror)

Kidney patients in Sri Lanka receive Rs. 3000 from government
In keeping with the promise he made during his election campaign, the Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena today began to provide the financial support for the kidney patients in the country.

The President's program will give away 3,000 rupees for each and every kidney patient and under the first phase, kidney patients of Polonnaruwa district received the money from the President today at a ceremony held in the Polonnaruwa Buddhi Mandapaya. (Colombo Page)

Attack me or my father but not other family members
While denying allegation that his mother was involved in a gold racket, MP Namal Rajapaksa said yesterday that if anyone wanted to take revenge politically they should only attack his father or himself and not the other members of his family.

“If political revenge is the main objective, attack my father and myself, and stop making false allegations against my mother and brothers,” the former president’s son tweeted. (Daily Mirror)

Teamwork and measured approach to meet challenge of 100-day programme
The government is proceeding with its 100 Day programme that President Maithripala Sirisena presented as part of his election manifesto.

This plan promised a national government and new cabinet with UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe as its Prime Minister after the presidential election. (The Island)

MP named by 'Wele Suda' to be probed
The MP, implicated by Wele Suda, the international drug trafficker, will be probed after the CID completes grilling Wele Suda, Minister of Public Security, John Amaratunga said.

Ceylon Today queried why the MP had not been questioned and Amaratunga said that the matter had to be looked into, whether the investigation was lagging behind. (ceylontoday)

UNHCR, EU to help SL Tamils return
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the European Union (EU) have undertaken to help the Sri Lankan government repatriate Lankan Tamil refugees in Tamil Nadu and resettle them in the Island Nation, the Lankan Ministry of Resettlement has said.

Assurance of aid was given to the Lankan Minister for Resettlement, D M Swaminathan, when he met local representatives Gulam Abbas and Igor Ivancic of the UNHCR, and Jaime Royo-Olid and Libuse Soukupova of the EU, here last week, a Ministry statement said. (Ada derana)

Sri Lanka bank on Sanga-Mahela hit show
Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene will join hands for the last time in their brilliant careers to plot Sri Lanka s World Cup campaign, hoping to make amends for two successive heartbreaks.

The missing link in the enduring partnership between the two 37-year-olds that started at the turn of the century is the absence of a World Cup triumph despite coming so near. (Dunya News)

Former ruling party deputy ministers summoned to court over assault on mayor
A Sri Lankan court today summoned several deputy minister sand parliamentarians of the former ruling party over the assault on an opposition party mayor during a provincial council election

Bandarawela Magistrate Court today summoned the former Deputy Ministers Sarana Gunawardena and Hemal Gunasekara, and parliamentarians Arundika Fernando and Rohana Pushpakumara to appear before the court on March 18th. (Colombo Page)

NGOs applaud suspension of fish imports from Sri Lanka
Fisheries Ministers of the European Union (EU) agreed in Brussels to punish Sri Lanka for not fighting illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, imposing trade restrictions upon it.

Several NGOs, among which are Environmental Justice Foundation, Oceana, The Pew Charitable Trusts and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), welcomed the decision taken by the Ministers, which temporarily suspended imports of fish from Sri Lanka. (FIS)

New chairman of the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation pledges to re awaken the golden era of the national radio
New chairman of the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation, attorney at law Nanda Muththettuwegama pledges to re awaken the golden era of the SLBC.

Assuming duties this morning he said that the national radio will be transferred to an independent public service. (SLBC)

Shashi Weerawansa’s passport under CID probe
The CID has launched an inquiry into the controversial diplomatic passport alleged to have been obtained by former minister Wimal Weerawansa’s wife Shashi Weerawansa by producing false information.

Police Spokesman Ajith Rohana said the investigation was based on a complaint lodged about passport. (Daily Mirror)

No need for new commissions on national issue, Sri Lanka Tamil party says
Sri Lanka's main Tamil party, the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) says that there is no need to appoint new commissions with regard to the war in Sri Lanka and the national question.

TNA parliamentarian Suresh Premachandran told the media that rather than appointing new commissions, it is more important to enact the recommendations made by the committees that have been appointed so far. (Colombo Page)

Sri Lanka’s media needs reform — can new President Sirisena deliver?
Any nation’s media would be hard pressed keeping track of a landslide of political change, environmental crises, imminent constitutional reform and a general election, all while keeping safe from a generation of assassins used to impunity.

When the media itself needs reform too, the problems might seem overwhelming. This is why Sri Lanka needs a constitutionally recognised national commission to oversee that reform and ensure freedom of expression is properly defended. (X index)

BASL to take finale decision on CJ's matter today
The bar Association of Sri Lanka’s (BASL) Executive Council will today (26th) decide on further steps to be taken if Chief Justice Mohan Peiris continues to hold the post, its Secretary, Attorney-at-Law Ajith Pathirana stated this.

Adding further, he stated that the Bar Association of Sri Lanka will take the decision during the convened discussion in this regard. (Hiru News)

Vass’s wife complains against Shiranthi
Shayamali Perera, the wife of former Senior DIG Vass Gunawardena, today lodged a complaint at the Bribery Commission against former First Lady Shiranthi Rajapaksa.

In her complaint, Ms. Perera alleged that the former first lady had been involved in a Rs. 500 million worth gold scam involving the Treasury. (Daily Mirror)

Sri Lankans cry foul as DRS malfunction gives Martin Guptill stay of execution
A rare technology failure turned the spotlight on the controversial decision review system (DRS) in Dunedin, as Sri Lanka's cricketers wondered if all their conspiracies had come at once.

Sky TV said a rare and unexplained camera malfunction was to blame for New Zealand opener Martin Guptill's lucky escape when what appeared a certain lbw decision could not be referred under the DRS. (Stuff Sport)

A stark revelation that probably has frightening implications towards the well being of Sri Lanka
The following item carries startling as well as revealing information about how the unitarity of the Sinhala Nation once again may have been compromised through covert cunning and how the voting was manipulated to appease Western Powers through Indian involvement and the craftiness of Chandrika Kumaratunga and Ranil Wickremasinghe!

This also points to a conspiracy of major proportions. (Lankaweb)

Rathupaswala residents protest demanding reinvestigation of Army shooting
Residents of the Rathupaswala village in Weliweriya today (25) held a protest demonstration urging authorities to reinvestigate the deaths of three youths by the Army fire during a protest in 2013.

Speaking to the residents protesting Sunday, the Minister of Public Order John Amaratunga said the investigation on the incident would be reinitiated. (Colombo Page)

Officials begin raids to locate US-imported apples in Sri Lanka
The Sri Lanka Public Health Inspectors Union says that it has commenced raids in the Lankan market to locate apples imported from the U.S.

Union Chairman Upul Rohana says that the raids will be carried out island-wide on Jan. 26 and Jan. 27. (News 1st)

Expansion of Sri Lanka's international airport with Japanese funds to continue
The State Minister of Civil Aviation Faizer Mustapha said the Japanese government has expressed willingness to continue to support the second stage of the expansion of the Bandaranaike International Airport at Katunayake.

Following a meeting with the Minister Friday the Ambassador of Japan in Sri Lanka Mr. Nobuhito Hobo has assured to continue supporting the infrastructure project uninterrupted. (Colombo Page)

Expansion of Sri Lanka's international airport with Japanese funds to continue
The State Minister of Civil Aviation Faizer Mustapha said the Japanese government has expressed willingness to continue to support the second stage of the expansion of the Bandaranaike International Airport at Katunayake.

Following a meeting with the Minister Friday the Ambassador of Japan in Sri Lanka Mr. Nobuhito Hobo has assured to continue supporting the infrastructure project uninterrupted. (Colombo Page)

JVP give info on MR family today
The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) would meet the new Defence Secretary B. M. U. D, Basnayake today to provide him with information against former President Mahinda Rajapaka’s family members, a party official said.

JVP Member of the Western Provincial Council Dr. Nalinda Jayatissa told a media briefing yesterday that they would call the Defence Secretary to conduct an inquiry on how former President’s son Yositha Rajapaksa joined the Navy and obtained scholarships to study abroad. (Daily Mirror)

Sri Lanka's state media and a private TV channel under probe
State media institutions in Sri Lanka and a private television channel believed to have been operated by members of the former First Family are currently being probed for alleged irregularities in the past few years.

Media Minister Gayantha Karunathilaka says that committees have already been appointed to probe in to alleged irregularities in the state media. (Colombo Page)

Sanath Jayasuriya not happy with Sri Lanka on NZ tour
Sri Lanka's chief selector Sanath Jayasuriya is concerned about the team's progress, just three weeks out from the start of the Cricket World Cup.

Sri Lanka have lost the ODI series against New Zealand 4-1, with a game to go. They were outplayed in yesterday's 120-run thrashing in Dunedin. (Stuff)

Appeal Court to take up petition against former LTTE leader on Tuesday
The Court of Appeal in Sri Lanka Tuesday (27) will take up a Writ Application filed by the Marxist party, Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) seeking an order to arrest and prosecute former LTTE leader Kumaran Pathmanathan alias KP.

The petition was filed in the Court of Appeal last Monday and has sought Writs of Mandamus to arrest KP and produce him in Court to investigate the offences committed by him and to initiate judicial proceedings against him. (Colombo Page)

Silver coin to commemorate Papal visit to Sri Lanka
At the request of the Sri Lanka Catholic Bishop’s Conference a commemorative Rs. 500 sterling silver crown size frosted Proof Non-circulating Legal Tender (NCLT) coin was issued by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CB) to mark the visit of Pope Francis from January 13 to 15th . It is the first commemorative coin issued by CB, in recognition of a Christian religious event

The coin was presented to the Pope Francis by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe at an event hosted by President Maithripala Sirisena at the Presidential Secretariat in Colombo. (Sunday Times)

New Sri Lanka govt looks to improve rights record
Following new Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe's assertion that his government would get the country's human rights house in order, separate missions are to make crucial visits abroad to engage with global agencies.

Deputy Foreign Minister Ajith P Perera said, President Maithripala Sirisena's international affairs advisor, Jayantha Dhanapala is to travel to Geneva. (Economic Times)

Lankans may target US prez-Indian intel
Indian intelligence agencies have issued alerts to Delhi police and other security agencies saying US President Barack Obama might be targeted by anti-national elements belonging to Sri Lanka or Maldives during his Delhi visit as the chief guest for the Republic Day parade, Hindusatn Times reported.

A close watch is being kept on Sri Lankan and Maldivian nationals staying in India, particularly those with longer visa validity or whose visas have expired. (Daily Mirror)

PM to submit report on how to counter UNHRC allegations
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was planning to submit a comprehensive Cabinet paper on how the government should counter allegations against Sri Lanka in the report of an investigation conducted by Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights to be presented for the consideration of UN Human Rights Council when it next meets for its 28th session in Geneva on March 2015, a spokesman for the PM’s office said yesterday.

The premier was planning to compile his report on the basis of three types of inputs, the spokesman said. He would hold a series of meetings with government officials and seek their recommendations and observations to be considered in compiling his report in coming days. (The Island)

Welikada OIC sentenced to 1 year in prison
The officer-in-charge (OIC) of the Welikada Police Station, Chief Inspector Kamal Rasika Amarasinghe, has been sentenced to one year in prison by the Nuwara Eliya Magistrate’s Court in connection with a case filed by the Department of Wildlife.

He had been charged with entering the Horton Plains National Park without a permit and obstructing the duties of park officials on July 07, 2009. (The Island)

MR to return for general election?
Constituent parties in the United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA) have apparently decided to start afresh and are planning to contest the next general election under the leadership of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

A split in the UPFA was imminent during past few days, with speculations about the SLFP planning to contest the next general election under its original symbol, the hand. The arbitrary decision to appoint former Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva as the Opposition Leader was also strongly opposed and criticized by the majority of the constituent parties in the UPFA (ceylontoday)

The people voted for good governance to ignore conventions and rewrite the constitution
"Lions and Foxes reconcile, the Pope becalms, and all seem well but for neo-constitutional nit pickers" –that was going to be the title of my column last week, which was interrupted by the death of my father, and the news of which was most kindly inserted by the Editor in the editorial page of last week’s Sunday Island.

I thank him for that. As the title would indicate, I was going to write about two events of significance that were not included in the new President’s 100-day timetable, but dominated President Sirisena’s and his government’s first week in office (Sunday Island)

Police OIC resigned due to political pressure reinstated
A police officer, who tendered his resignation citing constant political pressure from the previous government, has been reinstated in his duties as the officer-in-charge (OIC).

The Inspector General of Police N. K. Ilangakoon today reinstated the former officer-in-charge (OIC) of the Wanduramba Police Station, Inspector Liyanage Keerthisinghe, who resigned citing political interference from the previous ruling party in the days run up to the Presidential election. (Colombo Page)

Ajith Dias appointed Chairman of SriLankan Airlines
An apparel industry expert and a leading businessman, Ajith Dias has been appointed to head Sri Lanka's national carrier SriLankan Airlines, sources said.

Ajith Dias was the Chairman of the Joint Apparel Associations Forum (JAAF) which is the apex body of all Textile and Apparel Associations before being appointed to head the national carrier. (Colombo Page)

19 gunny sacks filled with documents found inside abandoned well
Police today recovered 19 gunny sacks filled with various documents hidden inside an abandoned well at a residence in Watinapaha, Minuwangoda occupied by an individual, who is allegedly a Coordinating Secretary of former Prime Minister D.M. Jayaratne.

Police spokesman SSP Ajith Rohana stated that the gunny sacks contained file covers, documents and other papers. (Ada Derana)

Sri Lanka to not allow foreign companies to mine gems
Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena has given instructions to relevant officials not to let any foreign national or a foreign company to mine gems in the country.

The President said the government is not ready to endow the local gem industry to foreign companies and instructed the officials to refuse requests for gem mining. (eurasiareview)

Muralitharan reviews Sri Lanka's World Cup squad
The Sri Lanka squad for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 contained two big surprises for me: the absence of opener Upul Tharanga and the inclusion of Jeevan Mendis as a spin-bowling all-rounder.

Tharanga’s omission shocked me. True, he had not been picked against England or New Zealand, but he has a decent One-Day International record, averaging just under 34, and he has the precious gift of experience, with 176 matches under his belt. (Island Cricket)

Sri Lanka's Marxist party to contest next general election on its own
Sri Lanka's Marxist party, the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) has decided to contest on its own at the next general election under its bell symbol.

JVP politburo member, K.D. Lalkantha said the party has decided to contest on its own at the elections. (Colombo Page)

Sri Lanka reaches consensus to implement 13A: Ranil Wickremesinghe
Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on Friday said political parties have agreed to implement the thirteenth amendment as a solution to end the country’s over three-decade-old ethnic conflict involving the Tamil minority.

“All parties have agreed to solve the ethnic problem within the framework of the thirteenth amendment. We are continuing our talks,” Wickremesinghe said while addressing a gathering at Deniyaya in the south. (live mint)

Sri Lanka scraps military training for teachers, students
Sri Lanka`s new government said Saturday it is scrapping compulsory military training for school teachers and undergraduates.

The three-week army training, mandatory under ousted leader Mahinda Rajapakse`s administration, had resulted in at least three deaths in recent years and was deeply unpopular among student and teacher unions. (Zeee News)

Sri Lanka softens its stance on China port city deal
Sri Lanka's new government said on Thursday it might renegotiate a $1.5 billion "port city" deal with China Communications Construction Co Ltd, softening its pre-election threat to scrap the project.

New Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, before last month's presidential vote, said he would cancel the port deal if his party came to power. Maithripala Sirisena, backed by Wickremesinghe's party, unseated ex-president Mahinda Rajapaksa at the polls. (World Bulletin)

Former Sri Lanka Central Bank governor 'deeply disappointed' at complaints to bribery commission
Former Governor of Sri Lanka Central Bank Ajith Nivard Cabraal said he is "deeply disappointed" at the wide publicity that has been generated by the allegations contained in the complaints to the bribery commission.

Referring to the recent complaints made to the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption pertaining to his conduct and the Commission's directive to seize his passport, Cabraal said in a statement that he is also disappointed by the "scurrilous stories that have been deviously placed in various websites and social media." (Colomkbo Page)

New York Times columnist advises how to protect pro-US government in Sri Lanka
The US and international media have focused a great deal of coverage on Sri Lanka’s January 8 presidential election. Maithripala Sirisena, the newly-elected pro-US president, has been widely and falsely presented as a democrat.

The real reason for this unusual amount of attention is not concern for democracy, but rather the strategic interests of US imperialism. (WSWS)

Sri Lanka condoles on Saudi king's death
Newly elected Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena on Friday offered his deepest condolences to the people of Saudi Arabia over the demise of its leader, King Abdullah, the president's media unit said.

"President Maithripala Sirisena has expressed his deepest condolences and offered sympathy to the people of Saudi Arabia upon the death of King Abdullah,"the media unit said. (Shanghai Daily)

Consolidating post-election gains in Sri Lanka
Now that a peaceful and democratic regime change has occurred in Sri Lanka, a story that nearly played out can be told.

Hours before voting, a senior diplomat in the Indian High Commission in Colombo, when asked whether President Mahinda Rajapaksa would get an unprecedented third term, replied: “How can he lose?” But he added: “It will be very close and if he loses by a whisker, he may go to the Supreme Court or ask the military to intervene.” (The Hindu)

Making sense of presidential election
After the Presidential elections which are widely regarded as having been "stunning", most Sri Lankans are now engaged in trying to appraise their significance.

We have to begin by trying to establish why exactly Mahinda Rajapakse lost. In my article "After the elections", published on January 10 but sent to the Editor well before the election results were announced, I wrote, "If Maithripala Sirisena squeaks through, or wins with a substantial majority as I have been confidently expecting, the prospects will be much brighter for a restoration of a fully functioning democracy". (The Island)

We will ensure a level playing field - Ranil
Two weeks after an electoral upset that ousted Sri Lanka’s long-reigning strongman, the country’s new leaders are racing to investigate allegations of corruption under the previous regime and are rushing to enact legal and constitutional changes they say are aimed at reestablishing rule of law.

“This is going to be a huge, huge challenge,” said Ranil Wickremesinghe, who became prime minister after the defeat of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Mr. Wickremesinghe and the new president, Maithripala Sirisena, have promised to complete a far-reaching revamp of the government within 100 days. (Ada Derana)

Avant- Garde chairman’s passport confiscated
The Colombo Chief Magistrate Gihan Pilapitiya has ordered the Department of Immigration and Emigration to temporarily confiscate the passport of Avant- Garde Chairman.

Avant- Garde is said to own the floating armory discovered in the Galle harbor a few days ago. (ceylontoday)

Sri Lanka to appoint panel to probe civil war
Sri Lanka`s new government will appoint an independent commission to probe the last stages of the country`s civil war that ended in 2009, a minister said Friday.

Cabinet spokesperson and Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne told Xinhua that the commission will consist of professionals who would launch a full inquiry into the alleged human rights violations during the last months of the country`s war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (Zee News)

Chief Justice Mohan Peiris refuses to step down unless given a diplomatic posting
Sri Lanka's Chief Justice Mohan Peiris, under pressure to quit for being allegedly involved in a coup attempt against the new government, has refused to step down unless given a diplomatic posting overseas, a media report said today.

The top judge's reported demand has triggered a face-off with the Maithripala Sirisena government and drawn rebukes from the judiciary. (Bloomberg)

Former HSBC wealth manager to head Central Bank
The Sri Lankan government appointed an ally of the new prime minister who previously worked as a wealth manager with HSBC Holdings Plc (HSBA) and Emirates NBD to run its central bank.

Arjuna Mahendran was today appointed by President Maithripala Sirisena, on the recommendation of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, the president’s media office said Friday, Jan. 23 in an e-mailed statement. Mahendran succeeds Ajith Nivard Cabraal, who resigned a day after Mahinda Rajapaksa’s 10-year rule ended in Jan. 8 presidential elections. (Bloomberg)

Double tax avoidance deal with Sri Lanka proposed
Fiji has proposed a Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement with Sri Lanka.

The Fijian Attorney-General and Minister for Finance, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, confirming this said a draft agreement will be sent to Sri Lanka to initiate the discussions. (Fiji Sun)

The Gov’t of Sri Lanka responds to my NYT Op-Ed on U.S. war crimes probe of ex-Defense Secretary
The government of Sri Lanka’s Justice Deputy Minister has responded to an Op-Ed that I published in the New York Times in which I described the reasons that the United States can and should pursue a criminal investigation of U.S. citizen and ex-Defense Secretary of Sri Lanka, Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

I have posted below the news story which includes the statements by the Justice Deputy Minister. I will soon post my reaction here on Just Security. (Just Security)

Adam's Peak: Trekking Sri Lanka's most sacred mountain
'Every second, new colours," said my guide, Dharme, as the sky turned from crimson to gold.

As the sun rose, the landscape below took shape – distant peaks soared above valleys which dipped beneath a canopy of mist. Waterfalls plunged, white stupas peeked out from the jungle, and coloured flags were illuminated in the early light. (THE INDEPENDENT)

Sri Lanka finds missing presidential fleet: Police
Sri Lanka's police Friday (Jan 23) seized a fleet of more than 50 state-owned vehicles, including bullet-proof limousines, that were not returned after president Mahinda Rajapaksa’s toppling in this month's elections.

A police spokesman said 53 vehicles belonging to the presidential secretariat had been recovered from an open patch of land in Colombo as part of efforts to track down 128 vehicles that disappeared after the Jan 8 polls. (Channel Newsasia)

China stung by Sri Lanka’s election
Sri Lanka’s presidential election earlier this month dealt China a major blow as opposition leader Maithripala Sirisena, who had made curtailing excessive Chinese influence the main focus of his campaign, won a surprise victory over the Beijing-friendly incumbent President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

AThe Global Times, China’s leading international politics and security newspaper, published a somber editorial on Jan. 20 bemoaning the Sri Lankan result. The editorial draws a parallel to China’s overly eager investment in Myanmar in the past, only to see those projects rejected, curtailed or canceled by a newly elected anti-China leader. (Channel Newsasia)

MR still Chairman of SLFP according to document-EC
Election Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya today said former President Mahinda Rajapaksa was still the Chairman of SLFP and UPFA,according to a letter sent to him by the SLFP some 10 days ago.

The letter also states that Minister Anura Priyadarshana Yapa is the SLFP General Secretary. (Daily Mirror)

Sri Lankan Muslims call on investigation into religious killings
A Sri Lankan minority party on Thursday called upon the newly elected president to reinvestigate religious killings which had occurred in the country under the previous regime.

The Sri Lanka Muslim Congress Party (SLMC) said that while the government had a tight schedule under its 100-day policy program, it would request the president to reinvestigate Muslim killings and attacks led by Sinhala extremist monks last June, soon after the April general elections. (CCTV)

Sri Lanka pledges to recover stolen Rajapakse billions
Sri Lanka’s new government pledged Thursday to trace billions of dollars in stolen wealth stashed abroad by members of the previous regime and said experts from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank had agreed to help.

Former president Mahinda Rajapaksa and his powerful family are accused of siphoning large sums of money from the public coffers during his decade in power, which ended when he was voted out this month. (Washington Times)

Sri Lanka, Pakistan committed to expand bilateral economic, trade and investment cooperation
Sri Lanka and Pakistan reaffirmed their commitment to expand bilateral economic, trade and investment cooperation when the High Commissioner of Pakistan in Sri Lanka Major General (retired) Qasim Qureshi called on the Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera today, at the Ministry of External Affairs.

They discussed a range of issues encompassing the entire spectrum of bilateral relations, including ways and means of sustaining and further building momentum in bilateral cooperation. (Colombo Page)

Seychelles ‘open to assist’ Sri Lanka with MR asset investigation
The government of Seychelles has said it will assist with all formal requests for an investigation into the assets of Sri Lanka’s former president Mahinda Rajapaksa.

The Seychelles Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said this in a press statement released yesterday after reports surfaced recently in the Sri Lankan media that the country’s newly-inaugurated President Maithripala Sirisena’s government would be pursuing an investigation against former President, Mahinda Rajapaksa, in connection with allegations of stolen assets hidden in the Seychelles. (Ada Derana)

Brigadier Jayanath Jayaweera appointed as Military Spokesperson
Brigadier K.J Jayaweera, currently the Director, Directorate of Media at Army Headquarters has been appointed temporarily as new Military Spokesman.

Director Training & Coordination and Spokesman-Media Centre, Ministry of Defence and Office of the Chief of Defence Staff (OCDS) with immediate effect, in addition to his present duties at the Army Headquarters. (ceylontoday)

‘President raps Basnayake for endorsing Gotabhaya’s action’
President Maithripala Sirisena has asked new Defence Secretary B.M.U.D. Basnayake to explain why the latter endorsed predecessor Gotabhaya Rajapaksa’s actions pertaining to a bank account and a floating armoury.

Health Minister Senaratne, responding to questions by a group of journalists at his first Cabinet Press Briefing in Colombo, as Government Spokesman, said that the President had earlier this week questioned the Defence Secretary over his comments approving Gotabhaya’s conduct. (The Island)

Sri Lanka Telecom appoints president's brother as the new chairman
P. G. Kumarasingha assumed duties as the New Chairman of Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT) Group, the holding company consisting of seven subsidiaries, on 22nd January, 2015, making him the 8th Chairman of SLT following the company's privatization in 1996.

“Sri Lanka Telecom has a great responsibility towards the people of this country as well as the national economy in lieu of being one of its largest contributors (Lanka Business Online)

Election-night coup attempt was a fact -- Champika
Power and Energy Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka said the attempt by the Rajapaksas to stage an 'election night coup', that sought to tamper with the election results and seize power using the military, failed due to the vehement objections of lower rank officers.

In an interview with Daily Mirror, the JHU general secretary alleged that the coup, that was hatched at Temple Trees on election night was 'very real' despite the allegations being denied by certain figures linked to the controversy. (Daily Mirror)

CID grills GL over alleged coup
Former External Affairs Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris had been questioned by the Criminal Investigations Department officers this afternoon over an alleged attempt in the early hours of Friday January 9 to thwart the electoral process and to prevent, by unlawful means, the transfer of power after the Presidential Election.

“In the overall context of the current strident emphasis on good governance, I expressed deep regret that I was subjected to this harassment without any semblance of justification,” Prof. Peiris said. (Daily Mirror)

Clandestine western help kept Prabhakaran going, alleges ally of MS govt.
Asserting that war wouldn’t have lasted 30 years, if not for clandestine Western support for the LTTE, particularly in the procurement of US weapons by Kumaran Pathmanathan alias KP, JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake, MP, has claimed that interrogation of LTTE leader now in the protective custody of the government will help establish the circumstances under which Norway intervened in Sri Lanka.

The JVP has recently requested the Supreme Court to have Pathmanathan arrested. (The Island)

Sirisena stuck with his political partners, pals and progeny
Offering changes to the status quo always has a charm that appeals to people at all levels. Changes are also inevitable. That is the eternal law. But change for what? And how far can changes go to make a real difference?

These are nagging questions that make people believe that the more you change the more it remains the same. The perennial hope is change for the better. But does change always change for the better? The vaunted “Arab Spring” is one recent example where change did not change for the good of the people. (Colombo Telegraph.)

New Defence Secretary asked to explain
President Maithripala Sirisena has called for an explanation from the newly appointed Defence Secretary on the statement he made regarding an account held by former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Cabinet Spokesman and Minister Rajitha Senaratne said today.

“It appears that the Defence Secretary and the Army Spokesman have commented on the controversial account so as to protect Mr. Rajapaksa. The Army Spokesman is not aware about the fiscal policies of the country,” Dr. Senaratne told a Cabinet news briefing and added that action would be taken on this matter. (Daily Mirror.)

Passports of Cabraal and Sajin seized
The Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption has issued a directive to the Department of Immigration and Emigration (DIE) to seize the passports of former Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka Ajith Nivard Cabraal and Parliamentarian Sajin Vass Gunawardena.

Controller General of Immigration & Emigration M.N. Ranasinghe told Ada Derana that the bribery commission, in a letter addressed to the DIE, has directed to seize the passports of Cabraal and Gunawardena, in a bid to prevent them from leaving the country. (Ada Dearana)

Plugging Sri Lanka's sanitation gap
Nearing a total investment of $100 million, it is hoped the Greater Colombo Wastewater Management Project will help Sri Lanka meet its Millenium Development Goals target and provide an answer to chronically collapsing old infrastructure.

This article addresses the project development and how else the country is planning on tackling sanitation. (Water World)

Sri Lankan rupee, stocks fall on political, economic policy woes
Sri Lankan rupee forwards traded weaker for a fifth straight session on Thursday on importer dollar demand while exporters stayed on the sidelines on fears of possible depreciation, though the central bank capped the fall, dealers

Actively traded four-day forwards fell 0.23 percent to 133.25 before the central bank prevented a further decline via moral suasion. The four-day forwards were traded at 132.95/133.20 per dollar by 0837 GMT, compared with Wednesday's close of 132.95/133.05. (REUTERS)

India, Sri Lanka exchange fishermen at maritime border
Sri Lanka and India on Wednesday exchanged the fishermen who were detained in each other's jails for trespassing into their territorial waters.

The first such exchange in this year after the new Sri Lankan government is installed in Colombo, took place at the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) off Kankasanthurai, Sri Lanka. (Colombo Page)

Sri Lanka to ask for RBI help to trace plundered wealth abroadt
The new Sri Lankan government plans to seek assistance from the Reserve Bank of India along with other international institutions to trace billions of dollars plundered by unscrupulous individuals during the regime of former president Mahinda Rajapaksa

Sri Lanka will seek help from the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and the Reserve Bank of India track down wealth of key persons hidden abroad, cabinet spokesman and Minister of Health, Rajith Senaratne said today. (Economic Times)

Sri Lanka rejects Rajapaksa’s revenge allegations
The newly-elected Sri Lankan government Thursday refuted allegations of political revenge made by former president Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Media Minister Gayantha Karunathillake said the allegations were baseless and that the present government was committed to charging all those involved in corruption, Xinhua reported. (The Hindu)

World traveler with Alyona Nevmerzhytska: Sri Lanka worth discovering, exploring
Sri Lanka, known as Ceylon during British imperial rule from 1815 to 1948, is an evergreen island in the Indian Ocean. Famed for tea and elephants, some people go there to relax on its paradise beaches, but for others it is a perfect destination for adventures.

Few places in the world can offer the traveler such a remarkable combination of stunning mountain landscapes and sparkling tropical beaches, with 12 hours daily of mostly scorching sun except during monsoon seasons. (Kyiv Post)

Sri Lanka probes deals by ex-president, brothers amid graft concerns
Sri Lanka’s new government will investigate all financial deals sealed by former president Mahinda Rajapaksa and his brothers during his term as head of state and will take legal action if they involved any corruption, a minister said today.

Rajapaksa lost his bid for a third term in an election on Jan. 8 after a campaign that had focused on misuse of public funds and on his powers and those of his family members, many of whom held public office during his decade in power. (Stabroek New)

Sri Lanka’s ‘rainbow revolution’
January 9 was the beginning of a new era for Sri Lanka, domestically and internationally. After my first week as Foreign Minister, I feel encouraged by the level of warmth, openness and goodwill shown to the new Sri Lankan government by an overwhelming number of representatives of the international community.

For too long now, a culture of paranoia and a debilitating fear psychosis has gripped Sri Lanka and we have isolated ourselves within a rapidly globalising world. (The Hindu)

Coup allegations are baseless: Gota
Former Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa rejected allegations of an attempt being made by the Rajapaksa regime to subvert democracy through an ‘election night coup’ and said they would not have called in the Attorney General if such a plan was being actually hatched at Temple Trees.

“Yes, the Attorney General was called to Temple Trees but that was to discuss the matter of maintaining law and order such as whether it was necessary to impose a curfew, etc. because the Opposition had publicly stated that it will surround Temple Trees. That was a situation that needed to be addressed,” he said in an exclusive comment to Daily Mirror. (Daily Mirror)

Hold general election under caretaker govt., Opposition demands
Opposition Leader Nimal Siripala de Silva demanded in Parliament on Tuesday that the next general election be held under a caretaker government and people given freedom to elect a government they had their faith in.

Speaking during the time allocated for party leaders to welcome the new government, the Opposition Leader said: "We hope to extend our fullest support for the government’s 100-day programme. If the government wants our presence in Parliament to speed up the process of bringing about legislation for the benefit of the people, we are willing to participate in every sitting and extend our cooperation for that period. But, thereafter a general election should be held under a caretaker government and people should be allowed to choose for themselves." (The Island)

Gammanpila says coup allegations a joke
Pivithuru Hela Urumaya (PHU) General Secretary Udaya Gammanpila said today that allegations that a coup had been planned by former Defense Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, G. L. Peiris and himself on the night of the presidential election were totally false and claimed that all that had taken place on that night was a discussion about whether it would be necessary to impose a curfew to prevent violence in the country following the defeat of the SLFP.

Mr. Gammanpila, speaking to the media soon after making a statement to the CID regarding the allegation of his involvement in an alleged coup on the night following the presidential election that took place at Temple Trees, said that more than one hundred people were present during a discussion which took place in the presence of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and that discussions centred around whether curfew should be imposed on January 9 in order to maintain a peaceful atmosphere in the country ahead of the visit of Pope Francis. (Daily Mirror)

Fuel prices reduced from midnight
Keeping its election promise the new government under President Maithripala Sirisena has reduced fuel prices with effect from midnight today.

Accordingly price of a litre of 92-octane petrol has been reduced from Rs. 150 to Rs. 117 while the price of 95-octane petrol has been come down from Rs. 158 to Rs. 128. (Daily Mirror)

New Sri Lankan president pardons ex-army chief
Sri Lanka's new president pardoned and reinstated the rank of an ex-army commander who was imprisoned four years ago after challenging the former president in an election, his office announced Wednesday.

The statement issued by President Maithripala Sirisena's office said Sarath Fonseka is now entitled to all of his former privileges and political rights without any legal obstacles. (UT San Diego)

Margate man Alan Patey explains why he hijacked a Sri Lankan Airlines flight with 267 passengers on board
A man who hijacked a Sri Lankan Airlines plane with 267 passengers on board has revealed why in an exclusive interview with KentOnline.Alan Patey took control of the aircraft after his deportation, en route to Heathrow Airport.

He is currently on licence with an electronic tag in Margate until the end of March. (Kent Online)

India-Sri Lanka to consult on repatriation of thousands of refugees
Sri Lanka and India have decided to look into ways of sending back thousands of refugees that fled during a three-decade conflict, a statement from the Foreign Ministry said here on Tuesday.

Sri Lanka's newly elected Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera and his Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj agreed to commence a consultative process to re-engage on the issue of repatriation of Sri Lankan refugees in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. (Shanghai Daily )

Who is a Sri Lankan?
Most of the writers in LankaWeb keep on stressing the “Importance of a United Undivided Sri Lanka”, whilst a few promote rather jaundiced racist lines of Sri Lanka on Divisive by Race – Creed – Ethnicity.

A Broad Question to Readers of LankaWeb & Beyond! (Lankaweb )

Sri Lanka's new gov't to investigate high-profile killings
Sri Lanka's new government will re-investigate high-profile assassinations including those of a newspaper editor and politicians that were alleged to have had state backing during the previous administration, a minister said Wednesday.

The killings of Lasantha Wickrematunge, editor of the Sunday Leader newspaper, Tamil lawmakers Joseph Pararajasingham and Nadaraja Raviraj, and then-Highways Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle will be re-examined, Cabinet Minister Rajitha Senaratne told reporters. (abc News )

What Sri Lanka’s elections reveal about the UN and the Palestinians
The first lesson is that snap elections can backfire. Outgoing and ousted President Mahinda Rajapaksa called an early election for January 8, 2015, two years ahead of schedule.

He was thought to be a shoe-in, yet he lost to his rival Maithrilpala Sirisena. Rajapaksa, who had been in power since 2005, made his wrong decision after consulting with astrologers (i24 )

Autocratic political party of Sri Lanka sees inspiration in Modi and BJP
Autocrat Sinhalese Buddhist Nationalist Organization of Sri Lanka – Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) wishes to make a political party on the lines of BJP and RSS

The chief executive of BBS, Dilantha Withanage, exclaims in an interview to Indian Express, “We wish we had a leader like Narendra Modi.” (India TV )

Sri Lanka Tourism headquarter sealed by authorities over corruption allegations
Sri Lanka Tourism may have been involved in a major corruption scheme. Following the defeat of the United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA), several institutions and office rooms of prominent officials, in the previous government, have been sealed, in order to carry out investigations on allegations of fraud and corruption, Ceylon Today reported.

Also Sri Lanka Tourism, which alleged to have misused funds, especially during the Uva Provincial Council election and the recently held presidential election, has been placed under guard. (eTN )

Evidence of India’s involvement in regime change in Sri Lanka
Fresh evidence has emerged pointing to a concerted international effort behind the defeat of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse in the country’s presidential election on January 8

Reuters reported on Sunday that the Colombo station chief for India’s external spy agency, the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), was recalled to New Delhi before the election, following complaints by the Sri Lankan government that he was helping the opposition parties. (WSWS )

Thewarapperuma remanded till Feb. 2
UNP Kalutara District MP Palitha Thewarapperuma, who surrendered to the police this morning, had been remanded until February 2 by Colombo Chief Magistrate, the Police said.

MP Thewarapperuma was produced by the Colombo Crime Division. (Daily Mirror )

Gotabhaya responds to allegations
In this interview with The Island staffer C. A. Chandraprema, the former defence secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa responds to some of the allegations that were made against him in the wake of President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s defeat on Jan. 08.

Q. There is this talk of an attempted coup in the early hours of Jan. 09 morning. What really happened? (The Island )

Mangala promises demilitarisation of North, domestic war crimes probe
Sri Lankan Minister of External Affairs Mangala Samaraweera has outlined a series of steps President Maithripala Sirisena’s Government will undertake to achieve national reconciliation in the civil war-ravaged island-nation.

Talking to a select group of journalists here on Monday, he said the new government will demilitarise the Northern Province, order a domestic probe into the excesses reportedly committed during the last phase of the so-called Eelam War IV in 2009, and take suitable steps to provide relief and justice to victims of the civil war that tore the country apart for nearly three decades. (The Island )

Moving away from China, Sri Lanka puts Chinese "mega-projects" on hold
Sino-Sri Lankan "economic" friendship could soon be a thing of the past. Sri Lanka's new government announced that it plans to review a number of projects, worth billions of dollars, granted by the previous government to China.

According to many analysts, the move is another sign that newly elected President Maithripala Sirisena wants to distance himself from former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who was unseated on 8 January. (Asian News )

Ex-Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa tells government to stop 'political revenge'
Sri Lanka's beleaguered former President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Tuesday asked the new government to stop "political revenge", a day after his country home in the southern province was raided by police.

"Our family has been in politics since 1931. But never our homes came to be searched. I ask them to stop this political revenge," 69-year-old Rajapaksa said in the central town of Kandy. (dna )

From Bullets to Ballots: The Face of Sri Lanka's Former War Zone
In four months’ time, Sri Lanka will mark the sixth anniversary of the end of its bloody civil conflict. Ever since government armed forces declared victory over the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) on May 19, 2009, the country has savored peace after a generation of war.

Suffocating security measures have given way to a sense of normalcy in most parts of the country, while steady growth has replaced patchy economic progress – averaging above six percent since 2009. (IPS )

Sri Lanka invites all its citizens to return to the country
The Sri Lankan Foreign Minister, Mangala Samaraweera, extended an open invitation to all Sri Lankans in exile in many countries to return to the country.

Sri Lankan Minister of Foreign affairs is on an official visit to India soon after assuming duties in his ministerial portfolio. Indian media reported quoting Samaraweera to have said "We do not want any Sri Lankans living as refugees anywhere in the world. Please come back! We now have a truly Sri Lankan government in place, voted to power by all communities. We welcome all of you with open arms." (Govt. News Portal of Sri Lanka )

Ready to give Tamils more autonomy, says Sri Lankan prime minister Ranil Wickramasinghe
Sri Lanka's new Prime Minister Ranil Wickramesinghe today vowed to implement the India-backed 13th Amendment within a unitary framework for the devolution of power to provinces, to achieve reconciliation with the minority Tamil community.

"We will implement the 13A within a unitary framework," Mr Wickremesinghe said in his maiden address to Parliament convened for the first time since President Maithripala Sirisena succeeded Mahinda Rajapaksa after the January 8 Presidential election. (NDTV )

How the U.S. can help Sri Lanka turn the corner—with a targeted war crimes prosecution
The Obama administration helped catalyze the United Nations’ ongoing efforts to bring accountability in Sri Lanka for mass war crimes committed in that country’s civil war.

In a New York Times Op-Ed, I discuss the historic opportunity presented by this month’s surprising defeat of the autocratic Rajapaska regime in national elections. (Just Security )

Swimming with giants! Tourists offered chance to swim with Blue Whales in Sri Lanka
If this is the year for a holiday with a difference, why not opt for a blue whale safari where you will get the opportunity to swim with the world's largest mammals.

Travelling with wildlife experts Natural World Safaris to Sri Lanka, this is very much the once-in-a-lifetime holiday where you can do so much more than just photograph from a distance. (Daily Mail )

China will suffer losses if Sri Lanka scraps Colombo Port project
China will suffer heavy losses if the new Sri Lankan government halts the $ 1.5 billion Colombo Port city, bringing to fore the need for restraint in India-China competition in economic sector in small countries, an official daily said here today.

"The Chinese side will suffer heavy losses if the $ 1.5 billion project that started in September is halted. Given similar cases in Myanmar, this has triggered many concerns domestically," state-run Global Times said in its first editorial aft .. (Economic Times )

China will suffer losses if Sri Lanka scraps Colombo Port project
China will suffer heavy losses if the new Sri Lankan government halts the $ 1.5 billion Colombo Port city, bringing to fore the need for restraint in India-China competition in economic sector in small countries, an official daily said here today.

"The Chinese side will suffer heavy losses if the $ 1.5 billion project that started in September is halted. Given similar cases in Myanmar, this has triggered many concerns domestically," state-run Global Times said in its first editorial aft .. (Economic Times )

Interview: China-Sri Lanka ties to become stronger: official
Sri Lanka's newly-elected government will continue to maintain strong ties with China, a top official assured on Tuesday.

The decades of close relations enjoyed by China and Sri Lanka will continue unchanged, said C. Mahendran, foreign affairs secretary of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, during an exclusive interview with Xinhua. (XinhuaNet )

Sri Lanka prime minister vows democracy after authoritarian past
Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on Tuesday said the new government will restore democratic checks and balances after a decade of increasingly authoritarian rule under former president Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Under Rajapaksa, Sri Lanka lost the support of Western governments and India and was increasingly reliant on close ties with China, which did not question his steady strengthening of presidential power and the diminishing role of parliament. (REUTERS )

Change of guard in Sri Lanka triggers introspection in China
The change of guard in Sri Lanka has triggered a debate in China that despite its economic heft, the country may still be lacking in diplomatic power to influence smaller countries when it really counts.

An editorial in the Global Times cautions that it would be premature to conclude that the exit of Mahinda Rajapaksa, and the arrival of Maithripala Sirisena as the President of Sri Lanka is a blow to China’s interests in the island nation. (The Hindu )

Sri Lankan Tamil party calls on new gov't to share power
Sri Lanka's main ethnic Tamil political party has called on the new government to resolve the country's longstanding ethnic conflict, which led to a quarter-century civil war.

The leader of the Tamil National Alliance, Rajavarothayam Sampanthan, told Parliament on Tuesday that the failure to resolve the issue has caused many of the nation's ills. It was Parliament's first session since President Maithripala Sirisena won election on Jan. 8. (BND )

New Sri Lankan health minister vows to help kidney patients
Sri Lanka's new health minister said a mystery kidney disease that has ravaged farmers in part of the country for two decades will be given top priority under the newly elected government.

An estimated 70,000 to 400,000 people have been sickened in the North Central province's rice basket, and despite years of research, the cause of the chronic disease has not been determined. Thousands of patients require regular dialysis treatments but Sri Lanka, with fewer than 200 machines available, cannot meet the need. (abc News )

Sri Lanka looks to IMF for help as debt burden climbs
Sri Lanka’s two-week-old government plans to start discussions with the International Monetary Fund on reducing a debt burden that grew under the previous administration, Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake said.

Karunanayake, who will meet IMF officials today, said in an interview late yesterday that President Maithripala Sirisena wanted to reduce interest costs on the island nation’s 7.2 trillion rupees ($55 billion) in total debt. He ended Mahinda Rajapaksa’s 10-year rule in a Jan. 8 election. (Bloomberg )

Police team to probe Agalawatta attack
President Maithripala Sirisena has instructed the Police Chief to appoint a special team to investigate the assault at Agalawatta on Sunday morning and to take legal action against the miscreants.

UNP MP Palitha Thewarapperuma is alleged to have assaulted a Agalawatta Pradeshiya Sabha UPFA member after forcing him to kneel down. (Daily Mirror )

Speculation over Sri Lanka ties premature
With a power transition in Sri Lanka following national elections earlier this month, allegedly pro-China former president Mahinda Rajapaksa was unseated by Maithripala Sirisena. Observers say this poses challenges to the Sino-Sri Lankan ties and particularly to the mega projects planned by the two sides.

Sri Lanka said last week that it would review the construction of a Chinese-backed port close to Colombo, citing issues over transparency in the contract and environmental reasons. But the new government also said the reassessment does not indicate a cancelation of the project, and construction can resume if the review finds no fault. (Global Times )

Defence Secretary verifies Gotabaya’s claims
The newly appointed Secretary of Defence, B.M.U.D. Basnayake, today confirmed that the account held with the Bank of Ceylon’s Thapprobane Branch, containing nearly Rs 8 billion, is not under the name of his predecessor and that it belongs to the Ministry of Defence.

In a press conference yesterday (18), Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake had claimed that a sum of Rs. 7,500 million was found in a bank account under the name of the former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa and that the money has been transferred to the Treasury. (Ada Derana )

Gotabaya rejects Ravi’s accusation on BoC account
Former Secretary of the Ministry of Defence and Urban Development, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, today rejected allegations leveled against him, regarding an account in the Thaprobane Branch of the Bank of Ceylon containing nearly Rs 8 billion under his name.

In a press conference yesterday (18), newly appointed Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake claimed that a sum of Rs. 7,500 million was found in the bank account under the name of the former Defence Secretary and that the money has now been transferred to the Treasury. (Ada Derana )

UNP mob attacks PS member: Ex-minister
Former minister and Sri Lanka Freedom Party MP Mahinda Samarasinghe today claimed that a mob led by United National Party (UNP) MP Palitha Thewarapperuma had forced an Agalawatta Pradeshiya Sabha UPFA member to kneel down at the Agalawatta town and then assaulted him.

He said the incident had taken place yesterday morning prior to the opening of a SLFP party office in Agalawatta. (Daily Mirror )

WC 2015 team profile: After losing 2 consecutive finals, can Sri Lanka do it differently?
Sri Lanka, minnows to start in international cricket, made their way up through the years to win the coveted trophy in 1996 in home soil. The Asian side, known for its all-round ability, also made the finals in 2007 and 2011 but lost both of them.

The 2015 World Cup will be last for two veteran players in the side, namely, Mahela Jayawardena and Kumara Sangakkara and the team will try to give a befitting farewell to these two batsmen of great calibre. (One India )

New president, papal visit brings hope to Sri Lankan Christians
A new president and a visit from Pope Francis brought joy and hope to Sri Lankans last week.

Pope Francis arrived Jan. 12, shortly after voters elected Maithripala Sirisena as their next leader. (World Magazine )

Modi admires Colombo’s efforts to create ‘all-Sri Lankan’ govt
Interpreting the recent Sri Lankan election results as a vote for ‘unity and change’, Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated visiting Sri Lankan foreign minister Mangala Samaraweera and hoped the verdict will ‘advance peace, reconciliation and development in Sri Lanka and peace and progress’ in the region.

Modi said, in a meeting with the foreign minister, that even a ‘few steps can clearly indicate one’s direction’. He admired the Colombo leadership’s efforts to create a ‘truly Sri Lankan government’, which is ‘inclusive of all voices’. (Hidustan Times )

Helping Sri Lanka’s new democracy
Sri Lanka’s voters shocked themselves and the world this month by tossing out their president, who crushed the Tamil insurgency in 2009 and then led the country, along with his brother as defense secretary, to the brink of authoritarianism.

The new president has promised to restore freedom of the press, independence of judges, and the rights of religious and ethnic minorities. (New York Times )

Sri Lankan shares fall to 2-wk low in thin trade over political woes
Sri Lanka's main stock index fell to a more than two-week low on Monday as political uncertainty and lack of clarity on projects started by the previous government weighed on investor sentiment.

Investors also awaited economic policies of the new government. (REUTERS )

Police verifying fate of missing Presidential sec. vehicles
The Police are yet to determine the fate and whereabouts of some 172 vehicles of the 752 fleet of the presidential secretariat, SSP Ajith Rohana said today.

The new Presidential Secretary had informed the Police Chief to launch investigations to ascertain the number of vehicles of the secretariat and to find if the vehicles had been misused. (Daily Mirror )

Open to new approach in Geneva: Sri Lanka
The new Sri Lankan government will take a different position from the Rajapaksa regime when it comes to dealing with the international community on allegations of human rights violations, visiting Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera has told the Indian government.

“Our government will take a new approach to the U.N. Human Rights Council process in Geneva. We will offer a domestic mechanism for this, which could be supported by international agencies,” he said. (The Hindu )

Ancient Sri Lankan pottery traditions on show in Canberra
Sri-Lankan born Canberra man Sanjiva de Silva is hopeful an art exhibition in Canberra's inner-north will help save an ancient Sri Lankan clay pottery tradition.

On a recent trip to Sri Lanka, Mr de Silva visited one of the country's most sacred temples, Kalaniya Maha Vihara. (abc News )

China hopeful of further cooperation with Sri Lanka, despite project reviews
China said on Monday it hoped for continued "cooperation" with Sri Lanka despite a pledge by the new government in Colombo to review Chinese infrastructure projects awarded under the previous administration.

The remarks by China's Foreign Ministry come two days after a junior Sri Lankan minister said President Maithripala Sirisena's government would look at benchmarks for Chinese infrastructure costs using independent audit firms. (REUTERS )

Petition seeking arrest of Kumaran Pathmanathan filed in Sri Lankan court
A petition was filed on Monday in a Sri Lankan court seeking the arrest of top LTTE leader Kumaran Pathmanathan or KP, who is also wanted in India in connection with the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

The petition was filed in the Court of Appeals in Colombo by the country’s Marxist party Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP). (The Hindu )

Sri Lanka’s LGBTIs are hopeful new President will act to protect their rights
Sri Lankan LGBTI rights group Equal Ground hope the incoming government of President Maithripala Sirisena will be more open minded to the needs of sexual minorities and transgender people.

The executive director of Sri Lankan LGBTI rights group Equal Ground is hopeful the president’s reforms can also include better protection of the rights of LGBTI people in the country and hope the government will be prepared to listen to them in drafting any reform. (GAYSTARNEWS )

Indian media: Resolve 'sticky' issues with Sri Lanka
Papers back India and Sri Lanka's renewed bid to resolve the "sticky" issue of fishermen violating the maritime boundary between the neighbours.

Sri Lanka's Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera discussed the issue with his Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj in Delhi on Sunday. (BBC )

Police search MR’s house for Lambo
The Tangalle Police today search the Carlton Residence of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa in Tangalle for a Lamborghini car. (Daily Mirror )

Northern Expressway suspended
The government has decided to suspend the execution of the northern expressway project initiated by the previous regime, till its cost effectiveness is fully checked, a minister said yesterday.

Before the presidential election, then President Mahinda Rajapaksa ceremonially launched the project which was to be carried out under a loan agreement with China. The highway was due to link Colombo with Kandy via Kurunegala, and then Dambulla. (Daily Mirror)

Beyond 50:50
By Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka
The jury is in on the Presidential election. Here’s how it went down, according to an interesting source which can hardly be described as anti-Tamil, or Sinhala racist. Listen to Mr. Erik Solheim:

The election victory was possible due to massive support from all Sri Lankan minorities. Mr. Rajapaksa won 90 out of 160 electoral districts and came out on top in nearly all Sinhala-dominated provinces. Mr. Rajapaksa roughly won the Sinhalese vote by 55 per cent. This was compensated for by Mr. Sirisena winning around 80 per cent of the Tamil vote and an even bigger share of Muslim votes. For this was payback time…" (‘Can The Unknown Angel Deliver?’ Erik Solheim, the Hindu, Jan 15th, 2015) (The Island)

Govt. to end contract with costly US PR firms - FM
The new government would cease the ‘dubious and controversial’ practice of hiring expensive foreign public relations firms, Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake said yesterday.

Minister Karunanayake stressed that services of foreign firms would be sought only if the government lacked the required expertise to handle a particular subject. The Colombo district MP was responding to a query by The Island whether the hiring of several US public relations firms by the previous government would be investigated. (The Island)

India denies expulsion of RAW official from Colombo
India on Sunday dismissed reports that the Colombo station chief of RAW had been expelled in the run up to this month’s Sri Lankan presidential election and maintained that he has moved out after completion of his three-year tenure.

Reports from Colombo said that the Sri Lankan government had asked India to recall the official in December for allegedly helping gather support for joint opposition candidate Maithripala Sirisena who won the polls. (The Hindu)

“Sri Lankan election won by the people, not by RAW”
Sri Lanka’s election was won by its people, the country’s new Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera said in a sharp response to a Reuters report that the R&AW station chief in Colombo had been “expelled” for helping the Opposition to victory in the island nation.

“There is no substance in the report at all,” Mr. Samaraweera, who held talks with his Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj, told The Hindu on Sunday evening, echoing the sentiments expressed by the External Affairs Ministry in Delhi. It is the Sri Lankan Foreign Minister’s first visit abroad. (The Hindu)

Ketagoda says ready to forego parliamentary seat for SF
Parliamentarian Jayantha Ketagoda today said he had agreed to relinquish his Parliamentary seat to Democratic Front leader General (Rtd) Sarath Fonseka if the Elections Commissioner assured he would be the recipient of the seat.

However, he said he would continue to support former President Mahinda Rajapaksa. (Daily Mirror)

Floating armory found in Sri Lanka harbor belongs to a security firm
A container vessel found at a Sri Lankan harbor in the south carrying a haul of weapons belongs to a local security services provider, according to police.

Several containers onboard the container-carrying vessel "Mahanuwara" docked at the Galle Harbor were found to contain a haul of arms and the police have detained the vessel today. (Colombo Page)

US wants to work with Sri Lanka
US Assistant Secretary of State Nisha Biswal said that the United States wants to work together with Sri Lanka for shared prosperity and to forge stronger bonds between the two countries.

She says with the transition that the election had ushered in Sri Lanka, the season had brought hope for an inclusive future for all Sri Lankans. She also recalled the rich diversity of Sri Lanka, which had impressed her during her visit to the country a year ago. (Sunday Leader)

India, Sri Lanka hold ‘cordial, positive’ talks; fishermen issue discussed
In his first visit after the election results, Sri Lanka's foreign minister Mangala Samaraweera and Indian external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj held ‘cordial, positive and substantive' discussions on Sunday.

The talks, which spanned three hours, covered bilateral cooperation, political reconciliation within Sri Lanka, Indian development partnership projects and fishermen related issues. (Hindustan Times)

Even with a change of regime in Colombo, China’s sway will continue to grow in Sri Lanka
In a stunning blow to President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Sri Lankan voters opted for his former colleague Maithripala Sirisena to end a decade-long regime that has been increasingly marked by allegations of nepotism, corruption and authoritarianism.

Rajapaksa, after defeating the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam (LTTE), had won an overwhelming mandate for himself and his party in the 2010 elections. (Japan Times)

India, Sri Lanka fishermen's association meeting proposed for long term goals: MEA
The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Sunday stated that a meeting of the fisherman associations of India and Sri Lanka has been proposed in order to work out a long term solution with regards to this issue, adding that the matter needs to be dealt with in a humane manner.

"It is proposed to have a meeting of the fishermen's associations of the two countries at an early date to discuss how to address longer term goal in this regard. Both India and Sri Lanka feel that a longer term solution needs to be worked out taking into consideration all aspects of the matter," MEA spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin told the media. (Zee News)

China donates $3 mn for Sri Lanka's flood affected
The Chinese government has donated $3 million for flood relief in Sri Lanka, an official has revealed.

"China and Sri Lanka are good friends and neighbours. The Chinese government is committed to supporting the Sri Lankan people and government," Shanghai Daily quoted Ren Faqiang, deputy head of mission at the Chinese embassy at Colombo, as saying. (daijiworld)

Ex-Sri Lanka leader's brother accused of killing editor
Sri Lankan authorities are investigating a claim that the toppled president's younger brother ran a "death squad" and ordered a high-profile newspaper editor's assassination, a police spokesman said Sunday.

"Former defence secretary Gotabhaya Rajapakse ordered the hit on Lasantha Wickrematunga in January 2009, ex-public relations minister Mervyn Silva alleged in a formal complaint lodged with police Saturday, the spokesman said. (Yahoo News)

President Sirisena paving the way for Chandrika to be SLFP leader
President Maithripala Sirisena, who was installed as the new Chairman of the SLFP last Friday, is to propose an amendment to the party Constitution shortly paving the way for Ex-President Chandrika Kumaratunga to become the SLFP leader, SLFP sources said.

A senior SLFP’er said yesterday that during a meeting between Srisena and Kumaratunga in Colombo on Friday they had discussed abolishing the clause in the party constitution stipulating that any SLFPer who was elected President of the country automatically became Chairman of the SLFP as well. (The island)

Working behind the scenes for change in Sri Lanka
A combination of political factors may have led to the defeat of the former Sri Lankan president, Mahinda Rajapaksa, in the January 8 polls, but a small group of activist-lawyers may have sowed the seeds of regime change at least two years ago.

It all began with the impeachment of Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake by President Rajapaksa in January 2013, recalls constitutional lawyer J.C. Weliamuna, who was at the forefront of a lawyers’ movement against the controversial motion. He and constitutional law expert Jayampathy Wickramaratne later emerged key civil society voices that sought to give form to the simmering anger in the country, targeting a regime change that they saw as the only way out. (The Hindu)

Lawyers demand Sri Lanka's top judge quits over coup claim
Sri Lankan lawyers on Saturday demanded the resignation of the country's chief justice over allegations that he tried to help ex-president Mahinda Rajapakse remain in office despite last week's election defeat.

The influential Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL), which includes the vast majority of lawyers in the country, said it wanted Mohan Peiris to resign over his role in an alleged coup bid. (Daily Mail)

Sri Lanka to start ties with India ‘on a clean slate’
Sri Lanka’s new government will start its relationship with India on a “clean slate,” Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera told The Hindu ahead of his departure to New Delhi on Saturday.

Coinciding with his trip, the Sri Lankan government released 15 Indian fishermen in its custody, and officials here said the Sri Lankan fishermen, currently in Indian prisons, were also being released. (The Hindu)

Mervyn goes to CID against Gota and Basil
Former Minister and MP Mervyn Silva today complained to the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) against Former Minister and MP Basil Rajapaksa and former Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa over alleged frauds and crimes committed by them.

Mr. Silva told media soon after making a complaint to the CID that he did not want to take revenge from anyone but it was them who took revenge from him. (Daily Mirror)

New Sri Lanka regime offers olive branch to media
The Sri Lankan government on Saturday invited all journalists who fled the country due to various threats to return and engage in their profession independently.

Gayantha Karunathilaka, the new Minister for Mass Media, issued the invitation while addressing reporters as he assumed office, reported. (The Hindu)

Sri Lanka's new PM assures continued cooperation with China
Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has promised continued cooperation with China during his meeting with the Chinese ambassador, a press release from the Chinese Embassy said on Thursday.

Sri Lanka attaches great importance to developing relations with China, and is willing to further strengthen bilateral pragmatic cooperation in various fields for mutual benefits and win-win results, said Prime Minister Wickremesinghe who took office on Friday. (Global Times)

Indian fishermen freed, Sri Lankan foreign minister heads for Delhi
Setting the stage for improved bilateral ties, Sri Lanka Friday set free 15 Indian fishermen - a day ahead of the arrival of new Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera to India.

"All free. With release of 15 Indian fishermen today (Friday). No more Indian fishermen in Sri Lankan custody. Arrangement being made for early return," tweeted external affairs ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin here. (Zee News)

SL readies to adopt Commonwealth Latimar House Principles
With Commonwealth Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma declaring his readiness to work closely with newly elected President Maithripala Sirisena as the Commonwealth Chair-in-Office, the new government is expected to bring in far reaching constitutional amendments in accordance with Commonwealth Latimar House Principles.

Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, PC, yesterday told The Island that the adoption of Latimar House Principles would not be an issue under the new government. Responding to a query, Rajapakshe said that the Commonwealth issue, too, would be taken up soon after the government accomplished prioritised subjects in President Maithripala Sirisena’s 100-day programme. (The Island)

What Sri Lanka’s presidential election means for foreign policy
The January 2015 presidential election in Sri Lanka has delivered its verdict, bringing the curtain down on the rule of strongman Mahinda Rajapaksa and opening a new era in Sri Lanka’s domestic and foreign policies.

Although optimism over the new administration must be tempered for the time being, the election of Maithripala Sirisena provides an opportunity for Sri Lanka—especially to deal with its two pressing internal issues: corruption and reconciliation with the Tamil minority. (Carnegie Endowment)

President Maithripala Sirisena appointed SLFP Chairman
President Maithripala Sirisena has been appointed as the Chairman of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party, after former President Mahinda Rajapaksa today agreed to handover the party’s leadership to his successor.

Former Presidents Mahinda Rajapaksa and Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga have been appointed as patrons of the SLFP. (Ada Derana)

Dayasiri predicts stronger SLFP under Maithripala’s leadership
Chief Minister of the North Western Province Dayasiri Jayasekera yesterday said that the very survival of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) would largely depend on a total overhaul of the party ahead of the next parliamentary election.

The transformation of the largest single party should take place under President Maithripala Sirisena’s leadership, CM Jayasekera said. The former UNP MP, who had been one of the leading speakers on the defeated candidate’s political platform, was responding to The Island queries on the change of SLFP leadership yesterday. (The Island)

Jayantha Dhanapala resigns from Cargills Board to accept adviser post to Sri Lankan President
Top diplomat Dr. Jayantha Dhanapala has tendered his resignation from the Board of Cargills (Ceylon) Plc following his appointment as a Senior Advisor on Foreign Relations to President Maithripala Sirisena with effect from 12 January.

The Cargills in a stock market disclosure said the Board has reluctantly accepted Dr. Dhanapala�s resignation and expressed its appreciation to him for serving the Board of the Company as an Independent Non-executive Director and for the loyalty and support extended by him to the company and his colleagues over the past six and half years. (Colombo Page)

S&T student from Sri Lanka found dead; No foul play suspected
A Missouri University of Science and Technology graduate student was found dead in an off-campus residence Wednesday.

The individual has been identified as Malaka Thilakaratne, 33, a Ph.D. student in applied mathematics at Missouri S&T. He was found at a residence in the 1800 block of White Columns Drive. (Rolla Daily News)

Sri Lankan shares decline in thin trade, CTC slips
Sri Lanka's main stock index fell to a one-week low on Friday, led by Ceylon Tobacco Company Plc even as investors waited for clarity in economic policy from the new government led by President Maithripala Sirisena.

The main stock index closed down 0.48 percent, or 35.99 points lower, at 7,513.86, its lowest since Jan. 8. (REUTERS)

Travel ban on foreign passport holders lifted
The travel ban imposed in some parts of the country on foreign passport holders has been lifted in a directive by President Maithripala Sirisena, Defence Ministry’s Media Centre Director Brigadier Ruwan Wanigasuriya said today.

The decision was made at the first national security council meeting under the leadership of the new President. They had taken into consideration the prevailing peaceful situation in the country, he said. - ( Daily Mirror)

2000 soldiers were moved to Colombo for coup, says former Sri Lankan army chief
Mahinda Rajapaksa's defeat in the Presidential elections was followed by the news that he had attempted a coup as the results poured in, predicting his defeat.

Now, even more explosive revelations have emerged about the attempted coup. In an exclusive interview to NDTV , former army chief General Sarath Fonseka , tipped to be the new Defence Minister, said that Rajapaksa had moved 2000 troops into Colombo three days before the results in an attempt to stage a coup. Rajapaksa has denied the charges. (NDTV)

Mystery kidney killer spreads fear in Sri Lanka
It’s midmorning and hundreds of people are squeezed under a banyan tree’s shady canopy to have blood drawn by just three nurses, working assembly-line fast. Others wait outside this dusty rural health centre to get their vitals taken and give urine samples.

Most of the 1,000 villagers have come here on foot and have stood for hours under the hot sun — not because they feel sick, but out of fear. They want to know if they will be the next victims of a mysterious kidney disease that has killed thousands of farmers in Sri Lanka’s rice basket. (Khaleej Times)

Arjuna Ranatunga vows Sri Lanka ports clean-up
World Cup winning cricket skipper Arjuna Ranatunga began work Friday as Sri Lanka's ports and shipping minister after being appointed to new President Maithripala Sirisena's cabinet.

"I have a big responsibility to clean up this place," the portly Ranatunga said on his first day in charge of his ministry in the capital Colombo. (NDTV)

Sri Lanka to review China port deal amid security concerns
Sri Lanka's new government on Friday said it will review a $1.5 billion port deal with China Communications Construction Co Ltd over concerns about the Chinese company getting land on a freehold basis in a high security zone.

Sri Lanka's neighbour India has also raised security concerns over the project as a large portion of cargoes bound for India are transhipped through Colombo port. (REUTERS)

I will hand over SLFP leadership to MS today-MR
Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa in a statement today said that he will hand over the leadership of Sri Lanka Freedom Party to President Maithripala Sirisena today. (Daily Mirror)

NFF won’t join Govt. but support 100-day programme
National Freedom Front (NFF) leader and former Minister Wimal Weeranwansa said yesterday his party would not join the new government but would support its 100-day programme.

“We cannot join President Miathripala Sirisena because we cannot agree with his policies. That is why we supported former president Mahinda Rajapaksa. We are not prepared to betray 5.7 million people who voted for Mr. Rajapaksa. But we will support the100-day programme which includes constitutional and electroal reformsand thereduction in cost of living and fuel prices,” he said. (Daily Mirror)

Sri Lanka’s change of government was a miracle – now it needs another one
A wonderful thing has happened in Sri Lanka. Relegated to the inside pages by the Paris massacres, a kind of miracle took place last week: a sudden redemption. The superstitious, noting the proximity of this event to the arrival there of Pope Francis, who canonised the first-ever Lankan saint this Wednesday, might be tempted to credit the Holy Ghost.

A presidential election was held, local and international monitors followed the events closely, no serious outbreaks of violence were reported, the votes were properly counted, the incumbent lost by a substantial margin, and vacated the presidential palace, power was peacefully transferred. (The Independent)

EU begins Sri Lanka import ban
After announcing a red card against Sri Lankan imports of seafood in October, based on a lack of work towards fighting IUU, the EU this week begins its ban.

It is thought he European Commission's ban on fishery products could affect imports worth around €74 million a year; the EU imported 7,400 metric tons of fishery products from Sri Lanka in 2013. (undercurrentnew)

Roaming and reading: Sri Lanka
Green made a pilgrimage there herself while researching the writer Paul Bowles. She stayed at the Taprobane estate, a historic villa on the sea where Bowles lived in the 1950s.

Climbing through the island's luxuriant jungle, I caught a whiff of Mr. Bowles's bliss. Flame trees and frangipani-lined paths strewn with fallen blossoms. Screaming house crows, hundreds of them, were a counterpoint to the booming waves. The mineral smell of the sea receded, and the perfume of overripe fruit took over. (mpr news)

An auspicious moment
Sri Lanka's astrologers are probably not among those celebrating the country’s election result.

It was after consultation with some of their profession that Mahinda Rajapaksa, the president, called an election for January 8th 2015, two years ahead of schedule. (Economists)

Polls Chief: ‘Scarecrow held a clean election’
Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya yesterday called for a comprehensive examination of both 17th and 18th Amendments to the Constitution to pave the way for necessary constitutional reforms, including independent commissions.

In a brief interview with The Island, Deshapriya said that the polls machinery in place for the January 8, 2015 presidential poll had proved beyond any doubt that a level playing field could be created even in the absence of independent commissions, including Election and Police Commissions. (The Island)

People want money back from Gammanpila
Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) National organiser Nishantha Sri Warnasinghe today said that Pivithuru Hela Urumaya (PHU) General Secretary Udaya Gammanpila should pay back the Rs.100 which he collected from the people.

While protesting in front of Udaya Gammanpila’s office at Tickell Road in Borella and in front of his residence in Athurugiriya, he said that now the JHU had seen how he betrayed the people and the party by going against the its policies. (Daily Mirror)

Sri Lanka Fires Military Governor in Tamil-Controlled North
Sri Lanka's new president has replaced an ex-military with a civilian governor in the Tamil-controlled north in a sign of improving ties with the ethnic minority following the end of the civil war.

President Maithripala Sirisena, who defeated a hard-line incumbent in January elections, announced the appointment of H.M.G.S. Palihakkara as a new governor on his website Wednesday. (New York Times)

Former president to step down as party leader
Sri Lanka's former president Mahinda Rajapaksa has agreed to step down as the leader of Sri Lanka Freedom Party(SLFP) and allow the incumbent President Maithripala Sirisena to lead the party.

President Sirisena was the General Secretary of the SLFP before he decided to contest the presidential election from the common opposition and President Rajapaksa was the party leader. (Colombo Page)

A new sge for Sri Lanka?
It's difficult to describe just how shocking it is that Maithripala Sirisena, not Mahinda Rajapaksa, is the seventh president of Sri Lanka. Over the course of a decade, Rajapaksa has ruled the island nation of Sri Lanka, creating what seemed to be a water-tight government of nepotism and autocracy.

However, over the course of one day, the entire carapace has crumbled and democracy has been reaffirmed. A small and short-lived revolution has occurred in South Asia, but it is a potent victory for democracy that could signal a brighter future for the nation. (Huffington Post)

New Presidential advisors appointed
President Maithripala Sirisena today appointed former senior civil servants Austin Fernando, Tilak Ranaviraja and W. J. S. Karunaratne as Presidential Advisors.

Austin Fernando, a senior Administrative Service officer was a former Secretary to the Defence Ministry. Tilak Ranavirajah was also a senior administrative officer who held several important positions in the government as well as international organisations was secretary to the Public Security, Media, Health and Indigenous Medicine, Mahaweli and Power and Energy Ministries. (Daily Mirror)

Pope Francis leaves Sri Lanka for Philippines
Pope Francis started the second leg of his Asia tour on Thursday, departing from Sri Lanka after a two-day visit in which he preached a message of reconciliation between the country's different religious groups to huge crowds.

Francis visited a Church-founded, post-war reconstruction institute in Sri Lanka before boarding a flight to the Philippines, where he will stay until Monday. On Wednesday night he became only the second pope to visit a Buddhist temple.. (Jerusalem Post)

An unexpected change of power in Sri Lanka is good news for democracy
President Mahinda Rajapaksa considered himself a shoo-in to win an unprecedented third term when he called an early election in November, and with some reason: He had presided over both victory in a 26-year-long civil war with Tamil insurgents and surging economic growth of 7 percent a year.

The opposition had been cowed and criticism squelched by increasingly autocratic tactics. (washington Post)

Pope Francis changes schedule to visit Sri Lankan Buddhist temple
Photo Pope Francis at the Agrashravaka temple in Colombo to witness the opening of a casket containing relics of two key disciples of the Buddha.
Pope Francis has become the second pontiff to visit a Buddhist temple, changing his schedule at the last minute to pay his respects at an important place of worship in Sri Lanka’s capital and to witness a key ritual for Buddhists: the opening of a casket containing relics of two important disciples of the Buddha.

Francis listened respectfully as Buddhist monks chanted and prayed while opening the stupa, or casket, in the Agrashravaka temple on Wednesday, the Vatican said. (The Guardian)

Pope visits historic sanctuary in northern Sri Lanka
Photo Pope Francis releases a dove at the Madhu church in northwestern Sri Lanka on Jan. 14.
The pope’s visit Wednesday to Madhu in northern Sri Lanka highlighted a region that has seen much ethnic and religious strife, having served as a refuge for Christians fleeing persecution centuries ago and a shelter for civilians during Sri Lanka’s long and bloody civil war.

On the second day of his visit to Sri Lanka, the pope traveled to a sanctuary in rural Madhu that has long been venerated by the country’s Catholic minority and one that highlights the pontiff’s call for peace and reconciliation. (Wall street Journal)

MS–MR talks soon
A powwow between President Maithripala Sirisena and his predecessor, Mahinda Rajapaksa, is on the cards consequent to a meeting between the President and a senior SLFP delegation on Monday evening (Jan 12) at the former’s Wijerama Mawatha residence.

The meeting is likely to take place within the next few days at a venue mutually acceptable to both parties. (The Island)

S L –A nationalist of integrity and honesty: a voice in the wilderness
I cannot remember the exact date but I think it was during the years we were going round the country with our ‘Manel Mal’ movement imploring the young village lads to join the army so as to save the nation. We were also providing financial assistance to families who had sent their sons to the front.

That morning we were in some village off Polonnaruwa.SL had many friends in those villages. (The priests of those border villages were also SL’s friends. He often spent the night in those temples. All he asked from them was a mat to sleep on and permission to have his usual drink before going to sleep.) (The Island)

Sirisena to sacrifice Chandrasiri to please TNA - NFF
UPFA constituent National Freedom Front (NFF) led by former Minister Wimal Weerawansa yesterday accused new President Maithripala Sirisena of already having taken a step to remove the governor of the Northern Province Maj. Gen. (Retd) G. A. Chandrasiri to fulfil the promises he had given to the pro-LTTE Tamil National Alliance (TNA).

Addressing a media conference at the party head office, NFF Spokesman and former Parliamentarian Mohammed Muzammil said that according to their sources the new President had already asked the governor to resign and was scheduled to be appoint a former secretary of a ministry as the Northern governor. (The Island)

Sri Lanka releases 572 prisoners to mark pope visit
Sri Lanka released nearly 600 prisoners and reduced jail terms for others on Wednesday to mark Pope Francis' visit and his proclamation of the country's first saint.

"We released 572 prisoners who were arrested for minor offences," Prison Commission General Chandraratne Pallegama told Reuters, adding that some were older than 75. The sentences of an unspecified number of other prisoners were reduced. (REUTERS)

Why the Sri Lanka election upset is a blow to China
for Mahinda Rajapaksa, the now former president of Sri Lanka, last week's stunning election defeat must be a bit of a head-scratcher.

Having ended the country's decades-long civil war against the Tamil Tigers in 2009, Rajapaksa was long believed to be one of the most secure leaders in Southeast Asia. (THE WEEK)

Pope Francis meets MR and Gota
Pope Francis met former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Shiranthi Rajapaksa, Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Ayoma Rajapaksa at the Vatican embassy, in Colombo, last evening, Papal spokesman Fr. Fedrico Lombade said. (Daily Mirror)

All members of society must work together to bring reconciliation and rebuild Sri Lanka - Pope
Pope Francis said his wish is to see Sri Lanka becomes a country that honors the human rights and brings about the religious and political reconciliation among its communities.

Pope Francis speaking at the Colombo International Airport after his arrival this morning said he hopes for the days of "friendship, dialogue and solidarity" in the island nation. (Colombo Page)

Pope says 1st Sri Lanka saint still sets example
In his canonization Wednesday morning of Sri Lanka's first saint, Pope Francis cited three reasons why Joseph Vaz sets an example, even today:

Exemplary priest: "He teaches us how to go out to the peripheries, to make Jesus Christ everywhere known and loved." (Bloomberg)

Pope gives Sri Lanka first saint before half million crowd
Pope Francis visited a former war zone in northern Sri Lanka on Wednesday, preaching forgiveness to tens of thousands of followers gathered at a Catholic shrine that was shelled during the country's long ethnic conflict.

It was the first visit by a pope to the predominantly Hindu region that contains a large Catholic minority and was the scene of fierce fighting between Tamil Tiger rebels and the Sri Lankan army for 26 years. Up to 100,000 people died before the war ended in 2009. (Yahoo News)

Sri Lanka aims to show Pope Francis the value of religious unity
When you look at the gleaming buildings of Colombo and the fast-paced development that has taken place in recent years, it is perhaps easy to forget that until five years ago, Sri Lanka was embroiled in a bitter civil war.

Tens of thousands were killed, and hundreds of thousands displaced, in a three-decade conflict between the state and separatist insurgents in the north, known as the Tamil Tigers. (CNN)

Harin sworn in as Uva Chief Minister
United National Party Member of the Uva Provincial Council, Harin Fernando was sworn in as the new Chief Minister of the Uva Provincial Council a short while ago.

Uva Province Governor Nanda Mathew appointed Mr. Fernando as the Chief Minister after he secured the majority of the council. (Daily Mirror)

Limits of realpolitik and the cost of maithri misdirected
Mr Rajapaksa’s less hurried plan of achieving reconciliation by winning the hearts and minds of the minorities through comprehensive development has virtually been aborted. The sad reality is that he squandered the chances he had to address these issues in a more robust manner than he actually did. Probably a bit of hubris was a contributory factor, too. But he is still in a position to influence events, because he hasn’t still significantly lost his stature and popularity among the masses that are mindful of the many plus points of his leadership. As many people who still admire him say, it was the system that was defeated, not Mr Rajapaksa himself.

Psephologists have made a neat comparison between the two camps in respect of the general voting patterns:a majority of each minority community and a minority of the majority community have voted for Mr Sirisena, while the reverse has happened in the case of Mr RajapaksaBut the important thing is that both candidates got votes from all the communities. (The Island)

It is the misfortune of the people - Gammanpila
Pivithuru Hela Urumaya (PHU) General Secretary Udaya Gammanpila yesterday said that Maithripala Sirisena has been elected as the president of Sri Lanka for the misfortune of the people of the country.

“I predicted this long before at a press briefing. I decided to defect from the Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) because I didn’t want to take part in any separatist agenda. Even the General Secretary of the MDMK in Tamil Nadu, Vaiko had celebrated the defeat of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Vaiko said the poll day was the happiest day of his life,” Mr. Gammanpila said. (Daily Mirror)

A strategic political miscalculation
Many an eyebrow was raised during the second week of July, last year, when National Freedom Front (NFF) leader Wimal Weerawansa, MP, invited convenor of the Movement for Just Society, Ven. Maduluwawe Sobitha thera, to discuss far reaching constitutional reforms, including the abolition of the executive presidency.

The breakaway faction of the JVP was on a collision course with the SLFP. (The Island)

Pope Francis begins week-long Asia trip in Sri Lanka
Pope Francis brought calls for reconciliation and justice to Sri Lanka on Tuesday as he began a weeklong Asian tour, saying the island nation can't fully heal from a quarter-century of brutal civil war without pursuing the truth about abuses that were committed.

The 78-year-old pope arrived in Colombo after an overnight flight from Rome and immediately spent nearly two hours under a scorching sun greeting dignitaries and well-wishers along the 28-kilometer (18-mile) route into town. The effects were immediate: A weary and delayed Francis skipped a lunchtime meeting with Sri Lanka's bishops to rest before completing the rest of his grueling day. (abc News)

M.I.A.: Sri Lanka has 'same government with different face'
Rapper M.I.A. tells Channel 4 News that though she still wants former Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa to face a war crimes trial, the priority is getting the country's Tamils their basic needs.

Maya Arulpragasam, the Sri Lankan Tamil recording artist, spoke to Channel 4 News following the defeat of Rajapaksa, a man accused of presiding over war crimes at the end of Sri Lanka's civil war, in Sri Lanka's election. (channel 4 News)

Exhausted Pope Francis cancels meeting with Sri Lankan bishops in the island nation
Pope Francis called on Sri Lanka to uncover the truth about its long civil conflict and bring religious communities closer together, as he began a visit to the island nation whose wartime leaders were voted out of power only days ago.

Francis, 78, looked tired at an evening meeting of Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim and Christian leaders, and earlier on Tuesday he cancelled a meeting with bishops after a long flight from the Vatican and a sun-baked ride in a jeep along packed roads from the airport. (NY Daily News)

Pope Francis arrives in Sri Lanka on 1st leg of Asian tour urging justice, healing after war
Pope Francis arrived in Sri Lanka on Tuesday at the start of a weeklong Asian tour, saying the island nation can't fully heal from a quarter-century of ethnic civil war without pursuing the truth about the injustices that were committed.

While Francis didn't specifically mention Sri Lanka's refusal to cooperate with a U.N. investigation into alleged war crimes committed in the final months of the war, he said that finding reconciliation after so much bloodshed, "can only be done by overcoming evil with good, and by cultivating those virtues which foster reconciliation, solidarity and peace." (Fox News)

JVP files bribery charges against MR and his family
The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) today complained to the Bribery Commission against 12 persons including, Mahinda Rajapaksa, Basil Rajapaksa, Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Namal Rajapaksa about alleged financial frauds committed by them.

Complaints were made against former Central Bank Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal, Carlton Super Sports Club, former Internal Trade Minister Johnston Fernando, former Ports Minister Rohitha Abeygunawardane, Tourist Board Chairman Senanka Guneratne, Managing Director of Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau Rumy Fawzer and Chairman of National Lotteries Board, as well. (Daily Mirror)

'Even Nostradamus got things wrong', says astrologer who advised Sri Lanka's president to call election
As a defeated Mahinda Rajapaksa slunk out of Sri Lanka’s presidential palace, the astrologer who counselled him to call a disastrous early election was gloomily packing his bags on the other side of town.

“Not all of Nostradamus’ predictions have come true either,” said Sumanadasa Abeygunawardena as he reflected both on the fate of his vanquished boss and his own reputation as a seer. (The Guardian)

Two stamps in honour of Pope
The Philatelic Bureau would issue two stamps, a first day cover and miniature sheet today to commemorate the visit of Pope Francis,.

Postmaster General Rohana Abeyrathne told The Island that the stamps would be of the denomination of Rs. 10.00 and Rs. 75.00. (The Island)

Pope visits Sri Lanka to help bridge divisions among Catholics
Pope Francis, who helped broker the end of a five-decade U.S. embargo on Cuba, arrives in Sri Lanka today in an effort to bridge divisions among Catholics in the island nation following a tight presidential election

The first papal visit in two decades will include a seaside mass and a visit to Sri Lanka’s holiest shrine, which helped house refugees during a 26-year civil war. Pope Francis will also meet with new President Maithripala Sirisena, who promised to quell violence against Catholics and other religious minorities that proliferated under his predecessor. . (Bloomberg)

Inclusive governance will be Sri Lanka's new mantra
There were many firsts in the election of President Maithripala Sirisena in Sri Lanka: An incumbent president was defeated; parties specifically representing different races and religious groups — the Jathika Hela Urumaya for the Sinhalese, the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), and the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress along with the All Ceylon Muslim Congress — came together on a common political platform; corruption was a major issue in the pre-poll campaign; and now a specific timeframe has been set for reforms.

However, the most important responsibility of the new government will be settling the national question. While the country owes him a debt of gratitude for eliminating terrorism from the country, former President Mahinda Rajapaksa did nothing about the commitments he made in 2009 to ensure inclusive peace. (Hindustan Times)

A gem of an election for Sri Lanka
As countries from Lebanon to Rwanda know, once a civil war ends, the hard part begins. A society rived by conflict must patch together a peace with a measure of accountability, reparations, compromise, and forgiveness. Last week, Sri Lanka finally took a leap toward such reconciliation – nearly six years after ending its civil war.

In a surprise result, the South Asian island nation of 21 million people elected a new president, Maithripala Sirisena, who promises major reform. (CS Monitor)

JVP makes about-tune
The JVP yesterday said that it expected to oversee the implementation of five key proposals including the reforming of the executive presidency by the National Executive Council to be appointed by President Maithripala Sirisena.

Addressing the media at the party headquarters, JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake said the other key proposals were the abolition of the 18th Amendment and the introduction of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, institutional reforms such as the setting up of the Audit Commission and Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption and immediate relief for the people. (The Island)

Looking forward to a cordial relationship with Sri Lanka: India
India today said it was looking forward to warm, cordial and friendly relationship with the new Sri Lankan government headed by President Maithripala Sirisena and hoped that his dispensation will take along all sections of the population and ensure their welfare.

External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said Prime Minister Narendra Modi has already extended an invitation to Sirisena to visit India and the newly elected President has indicated that he may come here at an .. (Economic Times)

New Cabinet ministers sworn in
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was sworn in as the Minister of Planning and Economic Development before President Maithripala Sirisena at the Presidential Secretariat .

Mangala Samaraweera was sworn in as the External Affairs Minister, Karu Jayasuriya as Buddha Sasana Minister, Joseph Michael Perera as Home Affairs Minister and Patali Champika Ranawaka was sworn in as Power and Energy Minister while Rajitha Senaratne was sworn in as the Health and Indigenous Medicine Minister. (Daily Mirror)

Sri Lanka's new cabinet of ministers sworn in
The Cabinet of Sri Lanka's new government was sworn in before President Maithripala Sirisena at the Presidential Secretariat in the capital Colombo. The President's new cabinet will consist of 27 members, 10 state ministers and 8 deputy ministers.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe has been given the portfolio of Policy Implementation and Economic Development. Economist and MP Dr. Harsha de Silva will be his deputy minister. (Colombo Page)

Pope Francis has a chance to do some good in Sri Lanka
By the end of this week, headlines about Pope Francis’s Jan. 12-19 trip to Asia, the second since his election, are likely to focus mostly on the Philippines, if for no other reason than the massive and adoring crowds he’s likely to draw in one of the most intensely Catholic cultures on earth.

Yet the trip actually begins in Sri Lanka, where Francis arrives early Tuesday morning (late Monday on the East Coast of the United States), and it’s entirely possible that of the two nations he’s visiting, it’s the place where he has the chance to do the most good. (CRUX)

Sri Lanka stocks surrender gains; Sirisena policies awaited
Sri Lanka's main stock index rose 0.9 percent to a near four-year high on Monday before surrendering all gains due to profit-taking amid political uncertainty as investors awaited President Maithripala Sirisena's economic policies.

The main stock index rose to 7,670.98, its highest since March 2011, before retreating 0.42 percent or 32.14 points to 7,573.65 by 0721 GMT. It had hit its highest close since March 2011 on Friday. (REUTERS)

Former Sri Lanka leader denies early-morning coup attempt
Former Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa denied allegations that he sought to stage an early-morning coup to retain power after assessing that he would lose a Jan. 8 election

President Maithripala Sirisena’s camp said yesterday it plans to investigate an “attempted coup” by Rajapaksa that was foiled when security forces refused his orders. The allegation is “baseless and unsubstantiated,” Mohan Samaranayake, a spokesman for Rajapaksa, said by phone today. (Bloomberg)

US offers to engage with Sri Lanka on human rights, inclusivity
The US today offered to immediately engage with the new Sri Lankan government to address issues of human rights and inclusivity but cautioned that there are still "real challenges" in the country.

US Secretary of State John Kerry, who is here to attend the 7th Vibrant Gujarat Summit, telephoned the new Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena late last night to congratulate him on his electoral triumph. (Economic Times)

Commonwealth observers note flaws in Sri Lanka's president poll
Sri Lanka's just-concluded presidential polls did not comply with all the key benchmarks for democratic elections, the Commonwealth observer team has said citing "unequal contest with extensive, large-scale abuse of state resources".

In the absence of an independent Election Commission, Sri Lanka's electoral framework does not provide for the basic conditions for democratic elections, the group said in an interim report on the January 8 polls. (Economic Times)

Wooing Sri Lanka from China's embrace
Is Sri Lanka the next Myanmar? After the stunning ouster of strongman Mahinda Rajapaksa in last week's elections, another small, strategically vital Asian nation would appear to have rejected China's embrace.

Whether the U.S. and India can exploit this opportunity, however, will depend on whether they recognize what's unique about Sri Lanka. (Bloomberg)

Sri Lanka’s surprise political transition
Sri Lanka went to the polls on Thursday in a historic election. For the first time since the island became independent in 1948, an incumbent president was voted out of office.

Early Friday, bleary-eyed from a night spent flipping between news networks or frantically refreshing Twitter, Sri Lankans struggled to assimilate the news that President Mahinda Rajapaksa had conceded the race. (Washington Post)

Pope’s trip to Sri Lanka and Philippines: 5 things to know
Pope Francis embarks on his second Asian pilgrimage next week, visiting Sri Lanka and the Philippines exactly 20 years after St. John Paul II’s record-making visit to two countries with wildly disparate Catholic populations.

Francis will make headlines of his own, drawing millions of faithful in the Philippines and treading unchartered political waters following Sri Lanka’s remarkable electoral upset this week. (Concord Monitor)

I am in Kilinochchi-KP
Rejecting reports that he had fled the country, former arms chief procurer of the LTTE Selvaraja Pathmanathan alias KP said that he did not intend to leave the country .

“Speaking to the Tamil Mirror from Kilinochchi he said that he was with the children at the Sencholai children’s home in Kilinochchi and he would continue to be with the children (Ada Daily Mirror)

Sri Lanka needs a true human being, not a king – Maithripala
Newly-elected President Maithripala Sirisena today invited all political parties in parliament to unite in forming a national unity government.

“I invite all political parties in parliament to join the all-party government to create good governance and drive the country towards expected aspirations,” he said, delivering his first address to the nation. (Ada Derana)

Over 20 SLFP MPs pledge support to President Sirisena
A group of 21 Sri Lanka Freedom Party Parliamentarians have pledged support to President Maithripala Sirisena a short while ago.

Among the MPs who pledged support the President are Dr. Sarath Amunugama, S.B. Nawinne, Vijith Vijithamuni Soysa, Piyasena Gamage, Reginold Cooray, Janaka Bandara Tennakoon, Athauda Seneviratne and North Western Province Chief Minister Dayasiri Jayasekara.​ (Daily Mirror)

SLFP Splits Into Two: Mahinda Re-appointed As Chairman By One Faction
a major development, the Sri Lanka Freedom Party has now been divided into two factions.

While one faction has decided to support President Maithripala Sirisena, the other faction has chosen former President Mahinda Rajapaksa as the Chairman of the party.​ (Asian mirror)

Sri Lanka to investigate Rajapaksa 'coup and conspiracy' attempt
Sri Lanka's new government has announced a "special investigation" into former leader Mahinda Rajapaksa, saying that the longstanding president sought to cling to power by a coup after his shock election defeat.

An ally of new President Maithripala Sirisena on Sunday told reporters that Sri Lanka's former leader had sought to use the military to cling to power after his surprising defeat at the polls this week. (DW)

Sri Lanka government to prosecute LTTE leader wanted in the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi
Sri Lanka's new government will prosecute a top LTTE leader who is wanted in the assassination of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi. The present government which took office only two days ago has claimed that the decision was taken even before they came to power.

Kumaran Pathmanathan, who is better known as 'KP', was arrested by the then Sri Lankan government in August 2009 and brought to Colombo where he was welcomed as a "VVIP" by the then defence secretary. The Mahinda Rajapaksa government had resisted moves to have KP extradited to India to face charges. He has reportedly fled the country and efforts are on to locate his whereabouts. (IBN Live)

PMK Urges Centre to raise fishermen's issue with Sri Lanka
NDA constituent PMK today urged the Narendra Modi Government to raise the fishermen's issue with the newly sworn-in Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena during his February visit to India and demanded that the leader immediately release boats of Indian fishermen under his country's custody.

Referring to Colombo's announcement that Indian fishermen from Tamil Nadu languishing in its jails will be released as a goodwill gesture, party founder S Ramadoss said the new government had, however, not made any reference to releasing the boats confiscated by Lankan authorities while arresting the fishermen. (NDTV)

The fall of Mahinda and 'The end of History'
by Dr. Dayan Jayatilaka
Having argued for years that (a) Sri Lanka under Mahinda Rajapaksa is no dictatorship but a unipolar democracy because of the meltdown of the centre-right UNP under its leader Ranil Wickremesinghe, and (b) that the Opposition should put forward a liberal nationalist instead, my perspective has been at least partly vindicated.

Why then was Mr. Sirisena my second choice rather than my first – which remained President Rajapaksa? An obvious reason is the Ranil-Chandrika factor (or factors). The second was his program of fast-track radical political reform and its possible centrifugal consequences. (Sunday Island)

Man beyond seasons - S.L. Gunasekera
by by Gomin Dayasri
Initials S.L surpassed surname Gunasekera. Branded to blend with the land of his birth - his name attracted shades of love and despair. Reciprocally, he loved those who made the country proud and despised those that discredited his cherished land. His countrymen to their inclinations called him a patriot or racist: he accepted both as compliments without a blink. Never was a seasonal man.

He timed his exit on a date other events took precedence. That was his life style to remain away from the limelight. (Sunday Island)

UK tells Maithri to back UN probe
British Prime Minister David Cameron has urged President Maithripala Sirisena to support the ongoing UN Office of the High Commission for Human Rights investigation into human rights abuses so that the issues of the past can be addressed and the country can move forward to a brighter, peaceful future where all Sri Lankans can play a role.

While congratulating Sirisena on his victory in the Presidential election, Cameron said that when he visited Sri Lanka he saw the huge potential the country has, and wish him well in taking every opportunity to help realise this potential and lead a stable, prosperous, united country. (Sunday Leader)

President Sirisena tries to form 'national unity' cabinet on first day in office
New Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena began assembling a cabinet yesterday on his first day in office as he looks to deliver on the pledges he made to improve the war-torn nation's diplomatic standing and implement democratic reforms.

Sirisena, who was sworn on Friday evening after a shock election victory over veteran strongman Mahinda Rajapakse, was trying to form a "national unity" cabinet that would include members from a cross section of political parties in parliament, an aide said. "The main task is to choose a cabinet and the work is already underway," Nishantha Warnasinghe said. (Daily Mail)

UPFA supports Common Opposition’s 100-day programme
Badulla District Parliamentarian Nimal Siripala de Silva said today UPFA would not hinder the common opposition’s 100-day programme and assured its support in carrying out it.

Badulla District Parliamentarian Nimal Siripala de Silva said today UPFA would not hinder the common opposition’s 100-day programme and assured its support in carrying out it. “We will not obstruct the common opposition’s 100-day programme. We hope they will carry out it as promised. People voted for Maithripala Sirisena because they approved their programme. We also expect to help him in carrying out it in matters that we can approve of,” he said. (Daily Mirror)

Sri Lanka's new president welcomes dissidents home
New President Maithripala Sirisena invited exiled dissidents back to Sri Lanka and promised to end censorship Saturday as he began to turn the page on the authoritarian rule of his toppled predecessor.

A day after his shock victory over veteran incumbent Mahinda Rajapakse, Sirisena began assembling a cabinet to deliver his pledges to repair the war-scarred nation's diplomatic standing and implement a raft of reforms. (Daily Mail)

Sri Lanka's Church, about to welcome Pope Francis, offers Roadmap for lasting peace
Deep wounds have barely begun healing. Only a few years have passed since Sri Lanka’s civil war ended in May 2009.

It is estimated that more than 100,000 people died in the conflict, most of them in the final months of the war. In 2010 (aleteia)

Sri Lanka army defied last minute order to keep Rajapaksa in power: Sirisena ally
Sri Lanka's army defied orders from aides of former president Mahinda Rajapaksa to keep him in power "by force" when it became clear he had lost his bid for a third term, an ally of the newly elected leader said on Saturday.

But an army spokesman said he was unaware of any such order. (REUTERS)

New President in Sri Lanka puts China’s plans in check
On a Sunday four months ago, a vessel pulled unannounced into Sri Lanka’s Colombo harbor: the Chinese Navy submarine Great Wall No. 329, which is designed to carry torpedoes, a cruise missile and a 360-pound warhead.

Sri Lanka’s defense minister shrugged it off as an “operational good-will visit.” But anxiety was already radiating as far as New Delhi, where the visit was seen as a clear declaration that China had arrived in India’s backyard — with the blessing of Sri Lanka’s president at the time, Mahinda Rajapaksa. (New York Times)

Mahinda Rajapaksa's loss is a boon for India
The noisiest celebrations for the defeat of Mahinda Rajapaksa, were not in the capital Colombo but in the Tamil North and over Adam’s Bridge, the ancient causeway which once connected Sri Lanka to India.

As Tamil activists pointed out, it was their votes which had defeated him – the victor, Maithripala Sirisena, won around a half of the country’s majority Sinhalese votes but the lion’s share in the Tamil north where the Sri Lankan Army shelled civilians in the last days of the war. (Telegraph)

Modi invites President Maithripala Sirisena
While Prime Minister Narendra Modi was prompt in inviting Sri Lankan President-elect Maithripala Sirisena to New Delhi even before he was sworn in, the Congress-led Opposition appeared a bit circumspect.

Quite glowing in his praise, Modi, in his letter to President Sirisena, significantly wrote that it was the latter’s “vision for Sri Lanka” and his “capacity to connect with people’s yearning for change” that ensured his victory. (Daily mirror)

New President, new PM sworn in Sri Lanka
The winner of the 2015 Presidential Election Maithripala Sirisena was sworn in today as the 6th Executive President of Sri Lanka.

At the auspicious time of 6:21 p.m. Sirisena took oaths as the new President before Supreme Court Justice K. Sripavan at the Independence Square in Colombo. (Colombo Page)

Sri Lanka Central Bank governor resigns after Rajapaksa loss
Sri Lankan central bank Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal resigned after the incumbent president was defeated in an election yesterday, giving his successor an opportunity to overhaul an institution critics say is opaque.

“I have tendered my resignation,” Cabraal said by phone today. “It’s a good thing for a new president to have a new governor, so I have paved the way for that.” (Bloomberg)

Sri Lanka’s election upset just destroyed a linchpin of China’s foreign policy
Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa just conceded defeat to his one-time ally, Maithripala Sirisena, in an upset that will have an impact far beyond the teardrop-shaped island and its 20 million residents.

Sri Lanka currently has a limited impact on global affairs, thanks in part to an economy crushed by years of civil war. Nevertheless, it is a key to the flow of future global trade due to its strategic location in the Indian Ocean, which puts it right in the middle of shipping lanes between Asia and Europe. (Quartz)

Sirisena to be sworn in as Sri Lanka's new president
Maithripala Sirisena will be sworn in as Sri Lanka's new president Friday after the strongman incumbent conceded defeat in a bitterly fought election, brought down by charges of corruption and growing authoritarianism.

A top aide to Mahinda Rajapakse said the outgoing president accepted the decision of voters who turned out in force on Thursday, in a remarkable turnaround for a leader who had appeared certain of victory when he called snap polls in November. (Daily Mail)

Punish Mahinda Rajapaksa, say Tamil Nadu parties
The MDMK and the PMK said on Friday that outgoing Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa must be tried for war crimes.

MDMK general secretary Vaiko also urged president-elect Maithripala Sirisena to free all Tamils from prisons. (Khaleej Times)

"Anti-Rajapaksa vote, not pro-Sirisena"
I interpret the heavy voter turn out in the Tamil majority areas of Sri Lanka as a negative vote cast against Mahinda Rajapaksa. The vote was a condemnation of his conduct of the war and his anti-Tamil policies in the post-war context.

BI do not think that the Tamil vote can be understood as a positive endorsement of Maithripala Sirisena's candidacy. (The Hindu)

Sri Lanka looks to chart a new course after ousting Mahinda Rajapaksa
President-elect Maithripala Sirisena has promised to dismantle the outgoing leader's executive presidency

Before calling presidential elections two years ahead of schedule, Mahinda Rajapaksa consulted his astrologer, Sumanadasa Abeygunawardena, who foresaw not just a third but also a fourth term in office for the Sri Lankan strongman. (Time)

Rajapaksa defeat: 5 things likely to change in India-Sri Lanka relations
Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa conceded defeat in his bid for a third term in office on Friday, a result unthinkable just weeks ago for a confident leader hoping to cash in on his economic record.

Rajapaksa lost to his former friend and health minister, Maithripala Sirisena, who defected from the ruling party and turned the election into a referendum on the president with expanding power since his victory over the Tamil Tigers in 2009. Rajapaksa had called the vote two years early, a move seen by many as a test for triumphalism.. (Hindustan Times)

Rajapaksa defeat: 5 things likely to change in India-Sri Lanka relations
Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa conceded defeat in his bid for a third term in office on Friday, a result unthinkable just weeks ago for a confident leader hoping to cash in on his economic record.

Rajapaksa lost to his former friend and health minister, Maithripala Sirisena, who defected from the ruling party and turned the election into a referendum on the president with expanding power since his victory over the Tamil Tigers in 2009. Rajapaksa had called the vote two years early, a move seen by many as a test for triumphalism.. (Hindustan Times)

EC declares Maithree as new President
Election Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya officially declared Maithripala Sirisena as the new President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka a short while ago.

Making the official declaration in terms of the powers vested in him by the Constitution, Deshapriya said that Mr. Sirisena obtained a majority of 51.28% votes, and is therefore the new President of the country. (Daily Mirror)

Sri Lanka Presidential Election - incumbent president concedes defeat
Sri Lanka's incumbent President Mahinda Rajapaksa has admitted defeat in the presidential election with the common opposition candidate taking an early lead , BBC reported quoting President's office.

Results released so far show that the common opposition candidate of New Democratic Front Maithripala Sirisena is taking an early lead in the race over the incumbent President Mahinda Rajapaksa. (Colombo Page)

High voter turnout
A high voter turnout of more than 70 % in total was reported in the poll that concluded at 4.p.m. today, returning officers said.

A high voter turnout of more than 70 % in total was reported in the poll that concluded at 4.p.m. today, returning officers said. (Daily Mirror)

Sri Lanka's political outlook shaky, whoever wins knife-edge election
In a measure of how far Thursday's presidential election in Sri Lanka has become a knife-edge contest, diplomats here have been checking the rules in case of a dead heat: according to a 1981 act, the rival candidates would draw lots to settle on a winner.

Until very recently, few would have predicted such uncertainty, not least President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who called the election two years early, confident that - despite his waning popularity - he could win an unprecedented third term. (REUTERS)

Sri Lanka’s strongman President could be facing a poll upset
Two months ago it looked like it would be landslide victory for Mahinda Rajapaksa, but now things are far from certain

Sri Lanka went to the polls on Thursday, kicking off an election that could result in the biggest shake-up of its government in over a decade. (TIME)

Monitors say voters obstructed in Sri Lankan election
Election monitors said Thursday that voters in northern Sri Lanka were prevented from casting their ballots in an election that pits President Mahinda Rajapaksa against an ally who suddenly defected from the ruling party to run against him.

The Center for Monitoring Election Violence, based in the capital of Colombo, also said a hand grenade exploded near a voting station in the northern Jaffna peninsula in the Tamil minority heartland, but that no injuries were reported. (Washington)

Election day: Sri Lanka at a crossroads
In November, when Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa called an election two years earlier than necessary, the path ahead looked clear for an unprecedented third term in office.

Today, as the nation of 15 million eligible voters goes to the polls, the 69-year-old's electoral ambitions appear in jeopardy. (CNN)

Sri Lanka votes on Thursday, 'lull before the storm' greets island nation
The rumour mill is working overtime in Sri Lanka. A journalist in the national capital Colombo told me that the President Rajapaksa family had kept a big private aircraft ready at Ratmalana airport, south of Colombo to flee the country, if he loses the Presidential election on Thursday.

But, he adds that it is just a rumour and there is no way he can give a proof. With supreme confidence he said "whether they have kept an aircraft ready or not. If Rajapaksa loses, his family will have to run away from the country. They will face jail for looting the island with impunity". (IBN Live)

Voting begins for Presidential election
Voting for the Presidential election began this morning at 7 and the voting will conclude at 4 pm today.

Meanwhile, Election Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya requested voters to cast their ballots as early as possible and that the production of a valid identity document was a mandatory requirement for voting. (Daily Mirror)

Lester refuses to meet Champika for his 'apology.' Sumithra quips
Although former minister Champika Ranawaka had said at a press conference last morning that he apologized to veteran filmmaker Dr. Lester James Peries and his family about the discomfort that was caused as a result of his displaying a doctored picture, this was a blatant lie.

However, Ranawaka had in fact not apologized to the artiste or family at the time the press conference was held, informed sources said. (Daily News)

Reports of Army deployment in Sri Lanka investigated ahead of election
The Sri Lankan election authorities are investigating reports that the military has troops standing by, ready to deploy during the presidential election Thursday, the country’s election commissioner said on Wednesday.

The commissioner, Mahinda Deshapriya, told reporters at a news conference that he had received complaints about the deployment of troops in the former conflict zones in the north and east of the country. (New York Times)

Police given maximum powers To curb polls misdeeds
Police were empowered to use maximum force to prevent misacts at polling stations, Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya said yesterday (7). Four hours leave for voting was insufficient, the Elections Commissioner said, while in some instances, employers did not even allow four hours of leave.

Deshapriya said that according to a gazette notification, employees whose workplace is within 40 kilometres from where they are to vote, are entitled to a- half-day leave. Where it is between 40 to 100 kilometres, a day's leave is entitled. (ceylontoday)

US top official calls Sri Lankan President to ensure election free from violence
The United States Secretary of State John Kerry has called the Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa to ensure the Presidential election today is free from violence.

The United States Wednesday said it supports a free and fair electoral process in Sri Lanka that is credible, peaceful, and inclusive. (Colombo Page)

Discouraging northern electorate: Army rejects poll monitors’ allegations
The armed forces wouldn’t be deployed in the Northern Province or any other part of the country for today’s presidential poll unless police headquarters requested for assistance, Military Spokesman Brig. Ruwan Wanigasooriya told The Island yesterday. "The armed forces will be confined to barracks", he stressed.

The military spokesman was responding to accusations made by the Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) at Tuesday’s media briefing held at Colombo Hilton Residence. (Asian Mirror)

Kahawatta shooting: one dead
One of the victims of the Kahawatte shooting incident had succumbed to injuries early today, sources said.

Shantha Dodamgoda, was injured when shots were fired at him and another two while setting up a stage for NDF presidential candidate at Kahawatta on Monday. (Daily Mirror)

Opposition MPs "Raid" BMICH in search of fake ballot papers
A group Parliamentarians of the opposition entered the BMICH to carry out an investigation into "fake ballot" papers that were allegedly being kept within the premises.

UNP Leadership Council Chairman Karu Jayasuriya, UNP Assistant Leader Ravi Karunanayake, JHU Parliamentarian Athuraliye Rathana thera, JVP Parliamentarian Wijitha Herath, former Minister Rajitha Senaratne and Parliamentarian Arjuna Ranatunga were among the group of opposition MPs carrying out the investigation. (Asian Mirror)

“Mudslinging campaign is underway against me”- says Sajith
Deputy Leader of the United National Party (UNP) Sajith Premadasa said he received information that a mudslinging campaign was underway against him in a bid to spread false rumors saying he had quitted the party and extended support to President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

In a letter addressed to the Election Commissioner, Premadasa has requested the authorities to take every possible measure to stop this mudslinging campaign what he explained as a conspiracy to sabotage his political career and the successful election campaign of Common Candidate Maithripala Sirisena. (Ada Derana)

Sri Lanka braces For Pope Francis visit amid political turmoil
Despite protests from Roman Catholic leaders, Pope Francis has remained committed to his planned three-day trip to Sri Lanka on Jan. 13. The visit takes place five days after the country’s election, and some fear the results could end in violence.

“Individuals and groups may have expressed their views and concerns. But [the schedule] stands as it is,” Bishop Nobert Andradi of Anuradhapura, former secretary-general of the Sri Lankan Catholic bishops’ conference, told the Catholic News Service on Dec. 23. “Yes, everything is on track.” (Int. Business Times)

Sri Lanka's Tamils say they'll back president's challenger
Like most ethnic Tamils on this island nation, he cannot even imagine voting for the current president, Mahinda Rajapaksa, a man who solidified his power base by crushing a brutal Tamil insurgency and then largely ignored Tamil demands to heal the wounds of the decades-long civil war.

So 67-year-old Santhiyapillai Pathmarajan plans to cast his ballot for the president's former friend and health minister, Maithripala Sirisena, who defected from the ruling party just a few weeks ago and has created a formidable political opposition. (abc News)

As vote nears, Astrologer for Sri Lanka’s president faces ultimate test of his skills
Few people will be watching this week’s presidential election in Sri Lanka with more pointed interest than a balding, prosperous-looking man wearing a gold amulet under his shirt, who claims the title of “royal astrologer.”

or decades, the astrologer, Sumanadasa Abeygunawardena, has stood beside the longtime politician and current president, Mahinda Rajapaksa, occupying a role that, in this part of the world, combines the functions of spiritual adviser, political consultant and life coach. On television, it is not uncommon to see panels of astrologers debating the fortunes of political leaders, in a format something like that of “The McLaughlin Group.” (New York Times)

Police to get Military help
Police Spokesman SSP Ajith Rohana said they will call the military to maintain law and order during elections if necessary.

While over 70, 000 security personnel have been deployed for election duty, police have requested all stakeholders, including political parties, to respect election laws and regulations and ensure a free and fair election. (ceylontoday)

North: CMEV blames army for ‘discouraging voters’
The Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) yesterday asserted that the voter turnout in the Northern Province, particularly Jaffna peninsula, at January 8, 2015 presidential election could be low due to heavy military presence there.

CMEV spokesperson Dr. Pakiasothy Saravanamuttu and its chief coordinator D.M. Dissanayaka accused the government of instilling fear among the electorate by deploying the army in the guise of providing security. (The Island)

Polls chief issues ultimatum to media
Commissioner of Elections, Mahinda Deshapriya has written to the Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation (SLRC), Independent Television Network (ITN) and Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC) warning them that he will not allow them to telecast or broadcast Presidential Election results, if they don't stop promoting one candidate, even after deadline for election campaigning ended on 5 January.

Deshapriya wrote to the three institutions yesterday (06). He took the decision after a candidate complained that the three State Media institutions were continuing to promote one candidate even after the deadline for promotional activities had passed. The same candidate had complained that a specimen ballot paper has been printed, with a false symbol assigned to him and has been distributed around the island in a bid to mislead the people. (ceylontoday)

“Our purpose was fulfilled,” says Jacqueline Fernandez
Salman Khan’s recent visit to his Kick co-star Jacqueline Fernandez’s home country, Sri Lanka called off for yet another controversy for him. The actor’s visit to Colombo sparked rumours that he was campaigning for Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa in the upcoming Presidential elections.

This led to the agitation of various Tamil parties, and Tamil leader Vaiko pronounced Salman as traitor! The same candidate had complained that a specimen ballot paper has been printed, with a false symbol assigned to him and has been distributed around the island in a bid to mislead the people. (Ada Derana)

Sri Lanka Presidential election on Thursday - poll surveys predict never seen before dead heat
Sri Lanka is two days away from it seventh presidential election and it is clear that it would be the closest and tightest presidential contest in the country's electoral history.

Both candidates, namely President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Common Candidate Maithripala Sirisena have expressed full confidence over the victory of the presidential election and the 'election heat' has already reached its zenith. (INB Live)

First group of Indian workers return from SL-India
The first batch of Indian workers, who were involved in a labour dispute with a Sri Lankan company, on Tuesday returned from Sri Lanka, Ministry of External Affairs official spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said

"First group back, rest coming in course of day. Indians with labour issues in Sri Lanka return," he tweeted. (Daily Mirror)

Scrapping China project deals not advisable – Kaushal
Indian human rights activist and Chairperson of Rural Litigation and Entitlement Kendra (RLEK) in Uttarakhand, India, Avdhesh Kaushal, who is also appointed to be part of the international panel to assist Sri Lanka's Presidential Commission investigating wartime disappearances and charges of war crimes against Lankan forces and the LTTE, told Ceylon Today, that the Opposition Common candidate's stance to scrap the China Port deal is not a very good idea as it is a negative approach. (ceylontodayr)

International monitors off to Northern Province today
The 55-member panel of international election observers has commenced their observations since this morning covering all the 22 multi-member electoral districts across the island in a bid to check out the final situations ahead of Presidential election.

The panel is scheduled to visit Northern Province for an inspection tour today as well, where they would hold a discussion with Government Agent of the Vavuniya district Bandula Harischandra. (Ada Derana)

SL Prez poll divides astrologers, pollsters
Given the general perception that the January 8 presidential election will see a photo finish, astrologers and opinion pollsters have jumped into the fray egged on by the two principal candidates, Mahinda Rajapaksa and Maithripala Sirisena.

However, not surprisingly, these predictions, whether based on planetary positions or statistical data, have contradicted each other sharply. Given tension in the air, innuendos have been flung at the astrologers. And the circulation of forged or unauthorized surveys have led to angry refutations from their supposed sponsors. (Indian Express)

Mahanayakes, Bishops call for peaceful polls
The Mahanayake Theras of Malwatte and Asgiriya have, in a joint statement, urged the Commissioner of Elections and Inspector General of Police (IGP) to take necessary steps to prevent election related violence and to maintain peace and brotherhood in the country.

In two separate letters, addressed to Commissioner of Elections Mahinda Deshapriya and IGP, N. K. Ilangakoon, Most Venerable Tibbatuwawe Sri Siddhartha Sumangala Mahanayake Thera of Malwatte and Most Venerable Udugama Sri Buddharakkitha Mahanayake Thera of Asgiriya have requested them to take every possible step to prevent both pre-election violence as well as post-election violence in the country. (The Island)

In Sri Lanka’s Northern Province, an anti-Rajapaksa wave
After Sri Lanka’s brutal war ended five years ago, President Mahinda Rajapaksa gave the Tamil majority North better roads, rail connections and electricity. However, people of the Northern Province believe he has not given anything by way of the much-awaited post-war reconciliation that will make them vote for him.

Despite trying hard to recover from the trauma of the war, the island’s Northern Tamils are constantly weighed down by concerns over heavy militarisation, land grab by the army and the absence of livelihood opportunities that could potentially revitalise the economy in the former war zone. (The Hindu)

In Sri Lanka’s Northern Province, an anti-Rajapaksa wave
After Sri Lanka’s brutal war ended five years ago, President Mahinda Rajapaksa gave the Tamil majority North better roads, rail connections and electricity. However, people of the Northern Province believe he has not given anything by way of the much-awaited post-war reconciliation that will make them vote for him.

Despite trying hard to recover from the trauma of the war, the island’s Northern Tamils are constantly weighed down by concerns over heavy militarisation, land grab by the army and the absence of livelihood opportunities that could potentially revitalise the economy in the former war zone. (The Hindu)

Kurunegala Bishop plans to resign
The Anglican Bishop of Kurunegala, the Rt. Revd. Shantha Francis said today that he would resign from his position as he, being a Tamil, was under pressure from Tamil Diaspora groups to toe their line.

Addressing a press conference he said he had always stood for a unitary state and the sovereignty of Sri Lanka and, therefore, had earned the wrath of these groups. He said he had been threatened by them during his visit to London last month. (Daily Mirror)

Court bars President’s TV show
The District Court of Kaduwela issued an enjoining order against four television stations from broadcasting a programme titled “Janapathi Janahamuwa” or a programme of similar nature featuring President Mahinda Rajapakse.

Issuing the enjoining order on an application filed by lawyers for the common opposition candidate Maithripala Sirisena, the District Court barred the Independent Television Network (ITN), Rupavahini, Swarnawahini and Derana from broadcasting the said show. (Daily Mirror)

77 Indians not held captive by steel company in Sri Lanka, will be back soon: Centre
The government has said that 77 contractual workers stranded in Sri Lanka are "not being held captive" but are caught in a labour dispute with the private steel company they work for.

"They're not being held captive, they're facing labour issues. I assure you we're in constant touch with the company and the men will be back in India within 24 to 48 hours," said External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin. (NDTV)

China, India and the Sri Lanka Elections
In less than a week, President Mahinda Rajapaksa of Sri Lanka will be facing the toughest political battle of his life as the country votes in the presidential elections on January 8.

The Sinhala strongman, credited with ending a 30-year war against the separatist Tamil Tigers in 2009 was expected to have a cakewalk until one of his closest colleagues Maithripala Sirisena walked out of the ruling combine and mounted a credible challenge after the fragmented opposition rallied around him. (THE DIPLOMAT)

No Sri Lanka poll pact to woo Tamils: Maithripala Sirisena
Sri Lankan opposition unity candidate Maithripala Sirisena today made it clear that he would not go soft on Tamil hardliners or withdraw the army from the north in exchange for their support in Thursday's crucial presidential election.

"I have no intention of withdrawing the army from the north. As president, national security will be my responsibility," Sirisena told reporters. (Economic TimesThe Nation)

It is all in your hands now
A few days from now the country will vote to elect a president. The 8th day of January in the year 2015 will arrive after several weeks of intense political campaigning.

Exciting though electioneering is, if one steps back from a place called ‘Preference’ and reviews the past few weeks, it would be hard to say that we, as a people, made of leaders and followers of course, deserve any back-patting. (Economic TimesThe Nation)

Government takes serious note of 'mistreatment' of Indian labourers in Sri Lanka
The government has taken "serious note" of complaints against an Indian company, involved in alleged mistreatment of 77 Indian labourers in Sri Lanka, and directed its mission in Colombo to make immediate arrangements for their return.

The government also is contemplating strict action against the erring company, according to government sources. (Economic Times)

Government takes serious note of 'mistreatment' of Indian labourers in Sri Lanka
The government has taken "serious note" of complaints against an Indian company, involved in alleged mistreatment of 77 Indian labourers in Sri Lanka, and directed its mission in Colombo to make immediate arrangements for their return.

The government also is contemplating strict action against the erring company, according to government sources. (Economic Times)

Sri Lankan poll machinery looks confident: Quraishi
Amid concerns among sections regarding alleged abuse of government machinery, discrimination by police, and control of the state media, Sri Lanka’s election commission appears confident about holding a free and fair election on January 8, said the former Chief Election Commissioner of India S.Y. Quraishi here on Sunday.

“The Election Commissioner exuded supreme confidence and told us that all arrangements were in place,” Mr. Quraishi, who is heading a team of Asian election monitors, said. (The Hindu)

Political revolt roils Sri Lanka presidential vote
Until just a few weeks ago, Sri Lanka’s upcoming election seemed a mere formality. Nothing, it seemed, could keep President Mahinda Rajapaksa from rolling to a third term in office.

He was the president hailed as a king after crushing the Tamil Tiger rebels in 2009 and ending the island nation’s 25-year civil war. He is a charismatic campaigner with vast campaign funds. He has turned the government into an extended family business, with politically powerful brothers, sons and nephews who can all help his candidacy. (NOTHWEST HERALD)

Sri Lanka must lay past demons to rest
Five years of peace, but tranquillity is yet to settle on Sri Lanka. A new tower in the capital, Colombo, intended to be the tallest building in south Asia, could easily be considered a monument to President Mahinda Rajapaksa, the man who in 2009 finally crushed the vicious 26-year insurgency by the Tamil Tigers.

The $100 million building represents an ambition that could never have been realised during the crippling years of war. Known as the Lotus Tower, folding outwards around a long stem that will rise 350metres and double as a broadcast hub, the building is said to symbolise the country's flowering economic development. (The Age)

Photoshoped: Susil
The government keeps former LTTE arms procurer Kumaran Pathmanathan alias KP in safe custody to use him at the right time at the right place to counter UNHRC allegations and fight international propaganda against Sri Lanka in Geneva and elsewhere, General Secretary of the UPFA, Environment and Renewable Energy Minister Susil Premajayantha said.

Environment and Renewable Energy Minister Susil Premajayantha said. Minister Premajayantha said the opposition had stooped to the lowest level of misinformation and disinformation as a picture of President Rajapaksa has been distorted to give a wrong impression to the public (Daily Mirror)

Survey: Same side goal
A survey conducted by the opposition had revealed a victory for President Rajapaksa, Youth Affairs and Skills Development Minister Dullas Alahapperuma said.

He said a separate poll conducted by the Kelaniya University also predicted a clear victory for Rajapaksa. (Daily Mirror)

Tamils protest against Salman Khan for supporting Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa
A group of Tamil activists today staged a protest outside Bollywood actor Salman Khan's residence here for supporting Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa during a poll campaign in the neighbouring country.

Salman was recently in Colombo with his 'Kick' co-star Jacqueline Fernandez after accepting the invitation by Rajapaksa's son Namal, to campaign for his father. (Economic Times )

Free, fair and peaceful poll the need of the hour
This will be the last issue of the Sunday Island before the country goes to the poll to elect its executive president with President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who pledged to abolish that office seeking an unprecedented third term having abolished the previous two-term limit.

This was done through a constitutional amendment enabled by engineering defections from the opposition UNP after the electorate narrowly denied him the two thirds parliamentary majority he sought at the last parliamentary election. Challenger Maithripala Sirisena, frequently described as the "common opposition" candidate, kicked off his campaign promising to abolish the executive presidency within a hundred days; but has since backed down, amending his stance to removing the sweeping powers of that office (The Island/Editorial )

No fight at all: President Rajapaksa
“No fight at all”, was the response from President MahindaRajapaksa on Wednesday, when journalists asked his view on the outcome of the decisive January 8 election.

Addressing the final media briefing before the Presidential Election, the President said that there were various rumours being spread in and around Colombo, but at all public meetings he takes part, it is very clear that the people’s response is extremely high. (Sunday Leader )

Wennappuwa quadruple murder suspect kills himself
The suspect arrested in connection with the horrific murder of a four-member family in Wennappuwa has committed suicide by jumping into the Ma Oya, police said.

He had jumped off the bridge in the Thoppuwa area while assisting police officers to recover the weapon used by him to carry out the murders, Police spokesman SSP Ajith Rohana said. (Ada Derana )

Two billionaire businessmen place one Billion bet
Two businessmen became parties to the highest-ever bet placed on a presidential election, having officially, in the presence of a President's Counsel in Colombo, wagered a sum of Rs 1 billion.

The forthcoming presidential election has been the most vibrant topic as of late, and many bets have been placed. (ceylontoday )

Sri Lanka opposition faces bullets ahead of key vote
Gunmen opened fire at an opposition rally in Sri Lanka Saturday, marking an escalation of violence ahead of next week's crucial presidential elections, party officials and police said.

Unidentified attackers fired from a jeep as the main opposition candidate Maithripala Sirisena was leaving the meeting in his home constituency of Polonnaruwa district, his office said. (Economic Times )

Is Rajapaksa facing defeat in Sri Lanka elections?
President Mahinda Rajapaksa hopes to be re-elected to a third term in Sri Lanka's election on Thursday. But what sort of a country has Sri Lanka become under Mr Rajapaksa and his brothers?

UOne day last month six astrologers were brought onto government television to discuss the prospects for the presidential election. (BBC )

Only Colombo thinks Maithripala will win Presidential Election – Mahinda
Predicting that winning the presidential election would be easier than even in 2010 and 2005, President Mahinda Rajapaksa says that  he would  get home  by a wide margin.

 Interviewed by the "Sunday Island" and other weekend newspapers at "Temple Trees" last Wednesday, Rajapaksa  asked "What challenge? I do not see any contest. You hear people speaking of   tight finishes only in Colombo. I didn’t have this lead even in 2010. I will win by a big margin on January 8." (The Island )

Only Colombo thinks Maithripala will win Presidential Election – Mahinda
Predicting that winning the presidential election would be easier than even in 2010 and 2005, President Mahinda Rajapaksa says that  he would  get home  by a wide margin.

 Interviewed by the "Sunday Island" and other weekend newspapers at "Temple Trees" last Wednesday, Rajapaksa  asked "What challenge? I do not see any contest. You hear people speaking of   tight finishes only in Colombo. I didn’t have this lead even in 2010. I will win by a big margin on January 8." (The Island )

Colombo Uni distances itself from poll survey
The Colombo University yesterday distanced itself from the survey released by the Opposition Common candidate's office which showed 53% victory for Maithripala Sirisena.

Colombo University Registrar K.A.S.Edward in a statement said. (Daily Mirror )

Sri Lanka's Cinnamon, the pride among world's spices
The Government has taken steps to uplift the Cinnamon production in Sri Lanka to target international market. Cinnamon, indigenous to Sri Lanka is the pride among world's spices. Sri Lanka is the world's largest cinnamon producer and accounts for about 70 per cent of the global production, while cinnamon exports from Seychelles have steadily increased. However, cassia a cinnamon like spice obtained from the bark of a plant related to cinnamon is widely traded as a relatively cheap substitute for cinnamon.

In Sri Lanka, Cinnamon seems to have originated in the central hills where seven wild species of cinnamon occur in Kandy, Matale, Belihull oya, Haputale, Horton planes and the Sinharaja forest range. Presently cultivation concentrated along the coastal belt from Negambo to Matara, it has also made inroads to Kalutara and Ratnapura. (Govt. News Portal of Sri Lanka )

Respect for dead Tiger leader shows CBK’s civility – Mangala
Former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga had demonstrated her Sinhala Buddhist upbringing by respectfully addressing the late LTTE leader Prabhakaran who had made an attempt on her life and caused her to lose sight in one eye, said Co-Media Spokesman of Opposition Presidential Candidate, Mangala Samaraweera at Nilvella, Dickwella on Thursday

Addressing a rally in support of Opposition Presidential Candidate Maithripala Sirisena, Matara District UNP parliamentarian Samaraweera condemned the state media for having launched a vilification campaign against former President Chandrika Kumaratunga for calling LTTE leader Mr. Prabhakaran. (The Island)

Polls chief tries to stop MR, MS using other candidates
Alleging that more than half of 19 candidates in the presidential fray hadn’t been actively promoting their candidature with three of them having already pledged their support to another candidate, Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya, has intervened to prevent President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Opposition presidential candidate Maithripala Sirisena from exploiting the situation.

Deshapriya has requested both print and electronic media to deny coverage to those backing the candidature of any other in the presidential race. (The Island)

President Mahinda Rajapakse urges Tamils to elect the 'known devil'
Sri Lanka's beleaguered President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Friday appealed to the minority Tamils to back him, the 'known devil', in the January 8 presidential polls as he campaigned in the former LTTE bastion.

"There is a saying that the known devil is better than the unknown angel", Rajapaksa said in Sinhala, speaking through a translator at a rally in Jaffna, the erstwhile stronghold of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE). (Deccan Chronicle)

Maithripala attacked at Pelmadulla rally
A public rally attended by Common Candidate Maithripala Sirisena was attacked in the Pelmadulla area this evening.

Several persons were reportedly injured after an angry mob pelted stones at the election meeting. (Ada Derana)

Legal action against fraudulent gas explorers- Champika
Former minister Patali Champika Ranawaka vowed to take legal action against a British-Indian company who engaged in oil and gas exploration in Sri Lanka under a 'Maithri Governance' for defrauding billions of public funds.

2015 Presidential Election in Sri Lanka: An initial forecast
As we approach the final week of campaigning for the Presidential election, the political messages of both coalitions are becoming clearer. So are the strategies of both coalitions and trends in voter sentiment as revealed through some surveys and public attendance in political rallies.

Defections from the ruling coalition have dominated the political stage though there have been some notable defections from the opposition to the government side also sparingly. (groundviews)

Sri Lank blasts EU call for peaceful election
Sri Lanka's government on Friday criticized a call by European ambassadors for a peaceful and credible presidential election next week.

European Union heads of mission in Colombo said in a statement Friday that the people should be able to choose their leader without violence or fear. (Sun Herald)

Sri Lanka citizen group appeals voters to use franchise wisely at presidential elections
Friday Forum, a Sri Lankan citizen's group says this presidential election is probably the most decisive election in Sri Lanka's post-independence period and urges the voters to carefully consider the issues at stake when exercising their constitutional right on January 08.

Issuing a communiqué, the Friday Forum said this election will "define the destiny of our country as never before," and called upon all Sri Lankans, whatever their political affiliation, to carefully consider the issues at stake when casting their vote. (Colo0mbo Page)

Pope, Vatican finalize trip arrangements
The Vatican on Friday said it was finalizing details for a trip mid-month by Pope Francis to Sri Lanka and the Philippines.

A media briefing next week will set out more information about the apostolic trip by the pope to Sri Lanka from January 12 to 15 and then the Philippines from January 15 to 19. (Daily Mirror)

Salman talks about Sri Lanka visit, says ‘surely going back for more’
Salman Khan’s recent Sri Lanka visit created a controversy with reports suggesting that the superstar was there to campaign for Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Jacqueline Fernandez had also accompanied Salman.

The “Bajrangi Bhaijaan” star took to microblogging website Twitter to talk about his visit. He tweeted, “during d READY schedule in sri lanka v hd dn an eye camp there . while shooting KICK jacqueline told me if v do another eye camp in sri lanka i should visit her restaurant also. v did a camp this week and i kept my promise and went to jacqueline's restaurant. its worth a visit . i'm surely going back for more .” (PINKVILLA)

Gunaratnam: JVP shaken to core by its support for MS
Leader of the JVP splinter Frontline Socialist Party Kumar Gunaratnam alias Kumar Mahattaya yesterday said the JVP had dug its political grave by entering into an agreement with common opposition canidate Maithripala Sirisena.

Gunaratnam, who arrived here yesterday morning in an exlusive interview with The Island, which he described as his first ever face to face meeting with a local paper, said that he had information of increasingly growing displeasure and dissention within the ranks of the JVP against its present day leaders’ move to support Sirisena. (The Island )

Chandrika calls President dictator and Prabhakaran gentleman
Opposition presidential candidate Maithripala Sirisena repeatedly claimed that he had not signed an agreement with the UNP, his election manifesto clearly indicated that he had agreements with the UNP and the JHU, former UNP General Secretary and Health Minister Tissa Attanayake said yesterday.

Addressing a media conference at the Sri Lanka Freedom Party headquarters, Minister Attanayake said that according to the page 14 of Maithripala’s manifesto he had entered into agreements with the UNP and the JHU. (The Island )

Selecting the President of Sri Lanka
When I was Senior Assistant Commissioner of Agrarian Services I was in charge of the administration of the entire department comprising a staff of 4000 with some thirty staff ranks.

We had to find the ablest of the Assistant Commissioners to handle key districts like Anuradhapura and Kurunegala where the volume of work was easily double that of any other District. I had endless discussions with the Commissioner J.V.Fonseka all to find who would be best for the job. (Lankaweb )

Rethinking the Pope’s Sri Lanka visit
Sri Lanka’s highly anticipated presidential election will be held on January 8. The incumbent Mahinda Rajapaksa will go for an unprecedented third term as challenger (and erstwhile member of Rajapaksa’s cabinent) Maithripala Sirisena tries to defeat him.

Sirisena’s resignation as health minister and defection from the government came as a big surprise to the Rajapaksa regime. And, while the “common opposition” is hardly a cohesive entity, it seems clear that a Rajapaksa victory is by no means assured. (THE DIPLOMAT )

Gunaratnam says change won’t help
Frontline Socialist Party (FSP) politburo member Kumar Gunaratnam today vowed to continue politics in Sri Lanka and said replacing the Mahinda Rakapaksa Government with a Maithripala Sirisena Government would only provide temporary relief to the burning issues in this country.

“It will be like an interval in hell. People are fed up with one rule and are so eager for a change. The so called change would not provide lasting solutions to the plight of the people. It would only provide temporary relief,” he told a news conference in Colombo today. (Daily Mirror )

Another deputy minister quits Sri Lankan government
Deputy Minister of Higher Education Nandimithra Ekanayake became the latest government minister to resign and pledge support to the common opposition candidate Maithripala Sirisena at the forthcoming Presidential election.

The former deputy minister announced his support to Sirisena at a press conference held in Colombo, this afternoon. He said that he tendered his resignation letter to President Mahinda Rajapaksa this morning. (Colombo Page )

Nandamitra’s son still supports MR
Deputy Minister Nandimithra Ekanayake’s son Chinthana Ekanayake, who is a Central Provincial Councillor, said he would remain with the SLFP and support President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

“I won’t leave the SLFP. I love my father but I don’t approve of his decision to support Mr. Sirisena,” he said. (Daily Mirror )

Sri Lanka's presidential race closely monitored by Australia
Australian officials are carefully watching Sri Lanka's surprisingly close presidential election, uneasy about how a change of government might affect joint action to stop asylum seekers' boats.

But human rights advocates have urged the Abbott government to cease its "unquestioning" support for President Mahinda Rajapaksa and push for an international investigation into claims of war crimes during the country's civil war. (Sydney Morning Herald )

Sri Lankan opposition claims army is trying to deter Tamil voters in north and east
Sri Lanka's opposition has accused the government of deploying thousands of troops to deter ethnic minority Tamils from voting against president Mahinda Rajapakse in next week's election.

The opposition's Ranil Wickremesinghe - a former prime minister - said the sending of reinforcements to Tamil-majority areas was part of a strategy to intimidate voters against supporting Mr Rajapakse's main challenger Maithripala Sirisena in the January 8 contest. (ABC News )

Opposition candidate says will not remove military camps from North
Sri Lanka's common opposition Presidential candidate Maithripala Sirisena said, that his government after January 08 would not remove any military camp from the North but will provide an environment conducive to all Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim people to live in peace and harmony.

Addressing a public rally in Puttalam Wednesday (December 31), Sirisena said already people without any religious or ethnic division have lined up to form a national government and national government the people expect to form does not have individual goals but common goals for the country. (Colombo Page )

Sri Lankan snake sighted in Seshachalam
Chrysopelea taprobanica Smith 1943, a snake considered endemic to the dry and intermediate zones of Sri Lanka, has been sighted for the first time in India in the Seshachalam Biosphere Reserve, Andhra Pradesh.

The development, which significantly expands the known area of presence of this species, also indicates its probable movement between the dry zones of peninsular India and Sri Lanka, which remained connected around 17,000 years ago. (The Hindu )

India constructs 27,000 houses in Sri Lanka
The Indian Housing Project in Sri Lanka continues to make excellent progress, with the project reaching its target of constructing or repairing 16,000 houses during 2014, the High Commission of India in Colombo said in a release today.

A total of 27,000 houses have been constructed or repaired under this project till date. (Siasat Daily )

Sri Lanka to recommence the Dual Citizenship
Sri Lanka’s cabinet has granted approval to recommence the Dual Citizenship which had been temporarily suspended during the end of 2011 has been reinstated from today, official of Ministry of Defence and Urban Development said at the briefing yesterday.

The granting of Dual Citizenship will be in force from 31st of December 2014. (Lanka Business Online)

Sri Lanka flash floods cause deadly havoc
Flash floods and mudslides in Sri Lanka have killed at least 39 people and more than one million have had to flee their homes in the past two weeks, data from the country's Disaster Management Centre show.

At least another 20 people have been injured and two are still missing after torrential rain, mostly in central Sri Lanka, the data show. (Aljazeera )

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