Saturday, August 8, 2009

World Agenda: President Rajapaksa looks set for eight more years

Mahinda Rajapaksa, the President of Sri Lanka, must look to the future with satisfaction. After his history-making triumph over the Tamil Tiger insurgency in May his electors look set to hand him a new mandate that will stretch to 2017.
Local elections today in the southern province of Uva and northern towns of Jaffna and Vavuniya, and a subsequent poll in Mr Rajapaksa’s native Southern Province, are seen as curtain-raisers for a presidential election that he can call as early as November.

If re-elected, under a constitutional quirk he can stay at the helm for eight years without being put to another vote.

Much of the Sri Lankan population reveres Mr Rajapaksa and many believe that re-election will be his reward for ending a gruelling 26-year war. Yet it is not only his rivals in politics who have cause to blanch at the thought of eight more years of Mr Rajapaksa.

>> Full Story

Sri Lanka holds postwar polls in northern towns

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Sri Lanka hailed elections Saturday near an area once dominated by the Tamil Tiger rebels as the first seeds of democracy sprouting along the former battlefields of its recently ended civil war.

But opposition parties accused the ruling coalition of restricting their campaigns, the government barred most media from the region, and voters appeared apathetic to the first elections in the northern cities of Vavuniya and Jaffna since 1998.

The cities, where Tamils are a majority, are just outside the shadow state the Tamil Tigers ran as a virtual dictatorship and were frequently hit by violence during the quarter-century civil war.

The government recaptured the territory and routed the rebels on the battlefield in May, ending a conflict that killed between 80,000 and 100,000 people. The rebels were fighting for a separate state for minority Tamils after decades of marginalization by governments dominated by the Sinhalese majority.

"This is another step toward strengthening democracy in the north," said Douglas Devananda, a government minister from Jaffna. Devananda's Tamil party — with its armed paramilitary wing — is leading the ruling coalition's election slate in Jaffna.
>> Full Story

Friday, August 7, 2009

Sri Lanka on track to reduce soft ware piracy

By Steve A. Morrell
Act 36 of 2003 has been enacted. But soft ware pirates abound although there are laws that protect property rights. Sri lanka is now ranked 6th in the world for soft ware piracy. Behind Bangladesh, Quantum of piracy in that country is 92 %. Sri Lanka racing just behind is 90 % in violation of these property rights.

Enterprise Director Microsoft Sri Lanka, Channa de Silva, said piracy does exist, and in real terms causes substantial losses to government revenue in taxes and related income sources. Also advantageous to the retail trade if authentic soft ware is used is that there is always a call back clause used for guarantees and exposure to illegalities are minimized considering long term benefits to a vendor, and in turn end users.
>> Full Story

First project under Gamata Karmantha:Pelwatta Dairy to produce milk powder

The Pelwatta Dairy plant which was the first project started in Moneragala under the Gamata Karmantha by the Government was commissioned by President Mahinda Rajapakse recently.

The Pelwatta Sugar Industries has invested Rs 1.2 billion on this project and it will start manufacturing high quality cattle feed next month.

Providing high quality cattle feed to animals will enhance local milk production, said. Chairman, Pelwatte Dairy Industries A. Wickramanayake. He said that the plant has the latest and most modern equipment in the world which will help the country to save foreign exchange worth Rs 300,000 million now spent on imported milk food.

The plant will provide liquid milk, yoghurt, and cheese and this will help dairy farmers in Moneragala, Hambantota, Ampara and Udawatta to sell their products at Government approved prices.

The manufacture of milk powder will commence in November. Around 300 people have secured employment at the plant..

The Pelwatta Sugar, Ethanol and Dairy plant will operate as models for the country and other districts also can use these resources and produce the country’s needs, Wickramanayake said.

>> Full Story

New LTTE chief Pathmanathan held

Arrested in a foreign country, he has been brought to Colombo
COLOMBO: The new Tiger chief, Selvarasa Pathmanathan known as ‘KP,’ was arrested in a foreign country and brought to Colombo on Thursday for questioning.

According highly reliable sources here, he was picked up and flown down to the capital. However, there were no details of the circumstances under which he was taken into custody.

Last week, KP claimed that the decision of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam to give up its armed struggle and take recourse to “political and diplomatic moves” was taken by Velupillai Prabakaran along with other commanders at Mullivaikkal in Mullaithivu district days before Prabakaran’s death in Eelam War IV.

>> Full Story

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Sri Lanka Holds First Elections in North After Rebels Defeated

Aug. 6 (Bloomberg) -- Sri Lanka is holding its first elections in the north since government forces defeated the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, ending their fight for a separate Tamil homeland in the region.

Campaigning ended at midnight local time yesterday for the election on Aug. 8 for members of municipal councils in Jaffna, Uva and Vavuniya. The vote is a “new experience in democracy” for people suppressed by the LTTE for almost 30 years, the government said.
>> Full Story

Resettlement in record time: Over 40,000 resettled in 44 days

Addressing a public meeting at the Vavuniya Urban Council grounds yesterday on the occasion of sending off several thousand Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) back to their original places of residence, Senior Presidential Advisor Basil Rajapaksa MP appealed to them to set aside ethnic and religious differences and rally round President Mahinda Rajapaksa to bring peace and prosperity to the country. Once the heroic Security Forces liberated the country what was uppermost in the mind of President Rajapaksa was to provide you with all possible facilities and resettle you in your original places of residence, he added.

In most countries, the resettlement of Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) had taken decades and in some cases even a century but President Mahinda Rajapaksa had initiated the resettlement of IDPs in a 180 day program and three batches with over 4,000 being resettled in the North and East on Wednesday, Senior Presidential Advisor Basil Rajapaksa MP said.

He said it had taken the Palestine 70 years and Bangladesh and Pakistan more than a decade to resettle some of their IDPs while in Europe some IDPs were resettled after a century.

President Rajapaksa resettled 40,000 IDPs in 44 days in the East and had directed the rehabilitation and resettlement program immediately after the LTTE terrorism and any delay so far was due to land-mine clearing operations, he said.

This is not only a Sri Lankan but also a world record, he added.

The President had ordered the Task Force to resettle the IDPs in 35 villages in Vavuniya, in 45 villages in Kilinochchi and in 24 villages in Jaffna, the Senior Presidential Advisor said.

President Rajapaksa wanted to have peace, amity and prosperity among all people and he had told the IDPs and the people of the North and East that the Government would give back all they had lost during the past 30 years other than the lives lost. "We would like to request the people of the north and east not to be deceived again as the President's policy was reconciliation while doing everything possible for the IDPs," he noted

"Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe at one time went round the world asking other countries and lending agencies not to assist Sri Lanka and now he was trying to stop the aid being received for resettlement and rehabilitation of the IDPs in the North and East. Some Tamil politicians were spreading rumours and I would like to ask them to stop spreading hatred among the people but to cooperate to bring in peace and amity," Rajapaksa MP said.

Yesterday, 964 people of 387 families from the Menik Farm IDP village were sent for resettlement in Kantale, Trincomalee, Ampara and Batticaloa areas while 3,000 people were sent for resettlement in their villages in the Jaffna district also from temporary shelters in Vavuniya.

The IDPs were dispatched in 70 SLTB buses with dry rations, clothing and other utility material. Parliamentarian Rajapaksa thanked the members of the Armed Forces and public servants of the north for their dedication and efficiency in expediting the process of rehabilitation.

Rehabilitation and Disaster Relief Minister Rishard Bathiudeen requested the people of the north and east not to be deceived by the terrorists again as some elements were attempting to make political mileage out of the people's problems.

"Today even some of those who were leaders in the LTTE had joined the political mainstream and the President was doing everything possible to give assistance to all communities to achieve peace and amity with development."

District Secretary Ms.Charles, officers of the Armed Forces and Government agencies were also present.
>> Full Story

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Another 1500 IDPs to re-settle tomorrow

Another batch of 1,500 civilians from the Menik Farm relief village will be re- settled in Omanthai, Nochchimotai, Piramanalamkulam, Pirappumadu areas from tomorrow, Aug. 05, under the government's 180 day resettlement program.
Reconstruction of roads, supply of electricity and water were already completed in these areas and the de-mining of the areas is also over.

The Thandikulam checkpoint had been shifted to the Omanthai exit point so that it would enable the civilians to move about freely.
>> Full Story

Sri Lanka to vaccinate over 40,000 children in refugee camps

COLOMBO, Aug. 3 (Xinhua) -- Over 40,000 children below five years old in the welfare camps in Sri Lanka's northern Vavuniya district had not been immunized properly and the government will launch an immunization campaign to counter sporadic outbreaks of measles, an English newspaper reported on Monday.

The Island quoted Health Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva as saying that instructions and orders had been issued on Public Health Officers to vaccinate children at the camps against measles and polio as part of a special "child health campaign" carried out from Monday to Wednesday.

The Ministry of Health, UNICEF, WHO and a coalition of other partners are responsible for the campaign follows several weeks of preparations, said the paper.
>> Full Story

Bank facilities to North & East

The people in the North and the East will soon have new banking facilities.

The state owned People's Bank, has opened its branches in Mullaitivu, Kilinochchi, Paranthan, Mankulam, Pesalai and Settikulam areas to cater to the needs of the civilians to be resettled immediately, under the supervision of the "Uthuru Wasanthaya" Task Force.
The bank has allocated one billion rupees to grant low interest credit and has issued as credit to people who applied for loan facilities in Pesalai and Settikulam areas. The total allocation made by the bank
Meanwhile Sampath Bank has also set up four branches in Kattankudi, Kalmunai, Akkaraipattu and Batticaloa in the Eastern province.

These branches have already used more than 100 million rupees in pawning or lending against gold as collateral for their new customers.

At least seven more branches of Sampath Bank are planned for the East.
>> Full Story