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Polls Chief denies pressure on him to suspend results

  • Ready for general election

Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya yesterday said that he had come under no pressure from the then President Mahinda Rajapaksa to halt the release of the presidential elections result in the wee hours of January 09.

Addressing a media conference at the Elections Department auditorium, the Polls Chief said that even if heavyweights of the then government had forced him, he would not have given in to pressure as he was vested with adequate powers to resist such a move and conduct a free and fair election.

Deshapriya said   he wasn’t aware of any coup attempt outside the Elections Department and the on-going investigation would reveal whether it was true or not.

"Former President Rajapaksa or his brother Gotabhaya did not give any directions to me to halt results, but issuing results to media got delayed by one hour due to a technical fault at the University of Colombo School of Computing (UCSC) responsible for issuing of results to media," he said.


Obama to arrive in India on Sunday

United States President Barack Obama will arrive in India on Sunday (Jan 25) for a three-day state visit. He will be the chief guest at India’s Republic Day on Monday (Jan 26), it was officially announced here and in Washington today.

Obama is the first US president to attend the Republic Day function and also the first to visit India twice while in office. He visited India the first time in November 2010.

External Affairs Ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin said the visit is "the culmination of a qualitative reinvigoration of our ties" following the meeting between President Obama and Prime Minister Modi last September in Washington.

Since then, both the sides have acted with alacrity, collaborated in common pursuits and have traversed along a transformative path, he added.


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.

He also said the government will soon initiate a dialogue with the one-million-strong Sri Lankan diaspora scattered across the globe to seek its help to rebuild the North.

The minister expressed the hope that the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) will respond positively to President Sirisena’s invitation to join the government and actively participate in executing its plans to transform the country into an inclusive liberal democracy.


President raps Basnayake for endorsing Gotabhaya’s action

  • Over Rs.8 billion BoC Account , Galle Floating Armoury

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.


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 intervention by Erik Solheim led to the signing of a ceasefire agreement between the then government and the LTTE in Feb. 2002.

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