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Sunday August 24th, 2008

NIC a stumbling block at polls
Minor incidents marred yesterday’s North Central and Sabaragamuwa Provincial Council elections, with the country’s main three parties trading charges,...  (See Inside)

Violence, arrests mar polls
As violence marred yesterday’s polls, the arrests of several UNPers and JVPers sparked off a controversy, with sources....  (See Inside)

President to address UNGA next month
Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa is scheduled to address the General Assembly of the United Nations’ 63rd session on September 24, at the UNUN Headquarters in...  (See Inside)


Tight security was in place in the North Central Province yesterday. Pictured is a Policeman thoroughly checking the personal belongings of a female voter at a polling centre at Thambuttegama, Anuradhapura
                        (Pic by Thushara Dassanayake)



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Long live the AG et al
In order to extend the services of present Attorney General C.R. de Silva, President Mahinda Rajapaksa, in a Gazette extraordinaire, has extended the compulsory...  (See Inside)

Jaliya seeks advice to counter Fein
Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to the United States Jaliya Wickramasuriya has written to Foreign Secretary Palitha Kohona, seeking his Ministry’s assistance to rebut a recent...  (See Inside)

Kilinochchi Medical Chief warns of disaster
Kilinochchi Health Service Chief Dr. A. Sathiamoorthy has warned of a serious health disaster, likely to hit thousands of Internally...  (See Inside)



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CMEV condemns ministerial involvement in voter intimidation
The Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) yesterday condemned the involvement of several ministers who were engaged in voter intimidation in certain polling divisions in the Sabaragamuwa and North Central Provinces.
According to the CMEV monitors’ report, the brother of UNP member Upul Bandara and a person named Roshan had been assaulted by a group of people led by Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage.
The Minister and his retinue were in the vicinity of the Zahira College polling station (No. 33 and 34) in the Mawanella electorate, Kegalle District, where they...  (See Inside)

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

Health Ministry’s failure to pay debts may force SPC closure
The State Pharmaceuticals Corporation (SPC) may face closure soon due to the serious financial crisis it is facing.
All Ceylon Health Services Union (ACHSU) has pointed out that if the Health Ministry fails to pay the staggering Rs. 1.3 billion which it owes SPC for purchasing medicine during 2007, SPC might have to shut down.
ACHSU Chairman Gamini Kumarasinghe told The Nation that the Ministry was not taking any steps to pay the massive sum of Rs. 1.3 billion, but was continuing to...  (See Inside)

Army Commander warns of more challenges
Army Commander Sarath Fonseka on Friday warned his soldiers that the future would be more challenging for them as they move forward to liberate the Wanni from the LTTE.
Addressing troops at the Wanni Security Forces Headquarters, Fonseka commended the General Officer Commanders in all divisions and all soldiers on their selfless commitment and contribution to the nation in their fight against the Tiger rebels.
“I am very happy with the progress so far made on all Wanni fronts. We are now quite close to Kilinochchi. Though our future targets would be more challenging, I am sure we would be able to face them.  (See Inside)

CPC up in arms over bunkering business
Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) trade unions are up in arms against the government’s attempts to permit private firms to commence bunkering.
CPC Common Services Union Secretary D.J. Rajakaruna said CPC employees would be forced to take trade union action against the government if it permitted private companies to begin bunkering.
“The government is trying to hamper CPC from entering the bunkering business. It is unfair since the CPC has the expertise in bunkering,” he said.
Rajakaruna...  (See Inside)

Japanese delegation here on goodwill visit
A four-member Japanese Parliamentary delegation led by House of Representatives Member Hosei Norota arrived in Sri Lanka on a goodwill visit last week. The delegation is scheduled to leave on Wednesday.
Norota is also the Chairman of the Japan-Sri Lanka Parliamentarians’ Friendship Association, and Japan’s former Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and Defence Minister.
The purpose of the visit was to promote and deepen bilateral relations between the two countries...  (See Inside)



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This is only the beginning!
When these columns are being read, the results of the provincial council polls in the North Central and Sabaragamuwa Provinces would be trickling in. The elections have been described as being too close to call and it would be foolhardy to predict the outcome. Nevertheless, the contest has the hallmark of being a pivotal moment in the fluctuating political fortunes of our land.
The ruling United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) only commands a wafer-thin majority in Parliament. This is because President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s main ally during the presidential election campaign, the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), has abandoned him now, mostly over a series of policy differences.  (See Inside)

Will the people’s choice be reflected
in the outcome of the elections?

The rhetoric and sabre rattling which pervaded the air over the past few weeks has come to an end with the results of the two provincial councils trickling in.
The leaders maybe wondering as to how the people voted on Saturday to elect two new provincial councils.
The government, essentially the UPFA, placed trust in the old faces such as Berty Premalal Dissanayake and Mahipala Herath to head their campaigns, while the UNP depended on total strangers to politics but two formidable candidates – Major General Janaka Perera, former Chief of Staff of the Sri Lanka Army, a war veteran who has earned laurels for his achievements in the military, while Ranjan Ramanayake, a nephew of late Vijaya Kumaratunga, the husband of former President Chandrika Kumaratunga, has been a popular...  (See Inside)


Dr. Mervyn Silva and the 17th Amendment
The public watches in helpless amazement as Dr. Mervyn Silva MP dominates the national stage with various unique achievements. Although he got less than 3000 votes in the last Parliamentary elections that he contested, he was appointed a National List MP.
The public is not aware of any noteworthy service that he has rendered the nation to merit this recognition, and is left wondering what the magic wand is that he waves to get whatever he wants.
Claims to fame
His next claim to national fame arose when a religious MP belonging to the JHU had his genitals squeezed so hard within the precincts of Parliament that the injured priest...  (See Inside)

Besieged civilians rise against terror
A new form of terror has created a humanitarian catastrophe, which is unfolding in the Wanni as valiant members of the armed forces are making rapid strides on west of A-9 road and elsewhere in Mullaitivu and Kilinochchi districts.
It appears to have gone unnoticed to terror sympathizers, both here and abroad. Many harrowing tales, emanating from hundreds of Wanni based ‘captives’ speak louder and clearer, as those forcefully ejected innocent civilians are virtually held incommunicado facing Hobson’s choice.
Tiger terrorist concentrations, now in a state of utter disorganisation and panic with more and more hurriedly picked terrorist reinforcements being...  (See Inside)


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Lanka returns to famous hunting ground
After a hard struggle for runs in the first two ODIs of the series played at Dambulla, both Sri Lanka and India will welcome the change of venue to the R Premadasa Stadium where the pitches are likely to be batsmen friendly.
The second phase of the five-match series consisting of three ODIs commences under lights today with both sides going into the final lap tied at 1-all. If past records are anything to go by then Sri Lanka should be firm favourites to turn the matches in their favour because the R Premadasa Stadium is one of their famous hunting grounds having won 72 percent (44 wins) of the 66 matches played there so far...  (See Inside)

Point Blank
Why not a Test at Dambulla?

The Rangiri Dambulla International Cricket Stadium may have its detractors, but over time it has come to stay as a monument of brilliant architectural value and as an international cricket venue of repute awed by many and despised by some because it was the brainchild of a former president of Sri Lanka Cricket, Thilanga Sumathipala. He had the vision at that time to build an international stadium in the dry zone which could play matches almost throughout the year and prove as an alternate venue to switch over to lest bad weather prevails in Colombo or other areas staging a cricket match. The importance of having an international stadium in the dry zone came to full light when all seven matches of the Bank Alfalah one-day triangular involving Sri Lanka, Pakistan and New Zealand in May 2003 had to be played at Dambulla...  (See Inside)


Anuradhapura’s SECRET POLL
In an unprecedented move, all media personnel were banned from polling stations across the North Central Province even as polling commenced in the districts of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa amidst tight security in all polling booths across the Province.
Media personnel who have, at past elections, been allowed access into polling stations, to watch prominent candidates and politicians cast their ballots, were asked to station themselves and their equipment 50 metres away from polling stations.
Provincial Councils Act of 1988 only for NCP
Speaking to The Nation, Additional Commissioner of Elections W.P. Sumanasiri said that, the order to keep journalists out of polling stations had come...  (See Inside)

Sabaragamuwa Voting sans violence
Despite a turbulent run up to the elections, the Sabaragamuwa provincial polls were conducted with little incident and a higher than expected voter turnout.
Most voters arrived at their respective polling stations early to cast their vote so that by mid-day most polling stations had recorded more than 60% of votes in some cases.
Contrary to predictions that there would be many violent incidents, the province was experiencing an almost sleepy atmosphere.
Voter turnout
Overall in the Ratnapura and Kegalle Districts over 60% of the votes were cast, according to the People’s Action For Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL) Ratnapura District Regional Monitoring...  (See Inside)

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