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UNP govt. with Prez backing

UNP-led United National Front for Good Governance (UNFGG) secured ten out of 22 electoral districts, including Colombo to obtain the largest block of seats at the Aug. 17 parliamentary polls, though it couldn’t secure a simple majority in 225-member parliament.

The UNP won 106 seats, including 13 National List slots, UPFA 95 with 12 NL slots, ITAF 16 with 2 NL slots and the JVP six with two NL slots. The EPDP and the SLMC won one seat each and got no NL slots.

Authoritative political sources told The Island that President Maithripala Sirisena had assured SLFP’s backing to a future UNP government and, therefore, it wouldn’t be difficult for the new government to secure the required majority in Parliament. Sources further said that the UPFA’s defeat had automatically defused premiership crisis in the UPFA. President Maithripala Sirisena was expected to discuss the situation with the SLFP/UPFA group to reach an understanding regarding the formation of the next government.

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Sri Lankan contingent busy in quake-hit Nepal

The first rescue and relief contingent from Sri Lanka with 44 service personnel and four civil medical consultants, dispatched to Nepal Sunday (26) early morning  in less than 45 minutes of their arrival in Nepal, began their rescue and relief operations in Dolalghad, a remote area about 60 km away from its capital Kathmandu.

The contingent, stationed in Dolalghad area on the advice of the Nepalese Army, has by Tuesday (28) noon, treated more than 300 badly injured victims of the devastating earthquake including a woman whose spinal cord had suffered injury due to being buried for hours under rubble.

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Ranil runs into brick wall in Ranawaka

General Secretary of Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) Patali Champika Ranawaka yesterday vowed never to allow the 19th Amendment to the Constitution to be enacted in its present form. He said Prime Minister Ranil Wickremessinghe was trying to arrogate executive powers to himself by abolishing the executive presidency.

Addressing the media at a news conference at their party headquarters at Battaramulla Ranawaka declared that the JHU would not allow Wickremesinghe to launch a constitutional coup which would plunge the country into a state of instability and anarchy.

Certain elements wanted to make Sri Lanka another Nepal, the JHU heavyweight who helped to topple the previous regime charged.

What the UNP had presented to Parliament was exactly what was in the 1972 constitution and Wickremesinghe wanted to have a figurehead like President William Gopallawa, he said.

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New war crimes campaign backed by some British MPs gets underway

Sinhala version of No Fire Zone to be launched today at UK Parliament

A new campaign meant to pressure Sri Lanka over accountability issues will get underway today (March 10) with the launch of a new Sinhala version of feature documentary No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka, at the House of Commons. The launch will take place at 10.00 am.

Among those scheduled to attend the launch are Director Callum Macrae, Labour MP Siobhain McDonagh, Conservative MP Lee Scott. The meeting will also be addressed by a Sri Lankan in exile, Bashana Abeywardana.

The House of Commons event will coincide with British Prime Minister David Cameron meeting visiting Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena at No 10, Downing Street.

The organisers said that the new Sinhala version of the documentary would be a challenge to the new administration in Sri Lanka.

Macrae launched the original documentary in June 2011, over two years after the conclusion of the war on the banks of the Nanthikadal lagoon.

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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.

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Sri Lanka to find billions of dollars hidden abroad

Sri Lankan government is to get assistance from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank and Reserve Bank of India to track down wealth hidden abroad belonging to key persons of the former government, the Cabinet spokesman said.

Cabinet spokesman Rajitha Senaratne said the government had information on the people who had hidden "billions of dollars" in foreign accounts.

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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.

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