Uva polls pose another headache for Opposition
darkest era in Sri Lanka's democratic politics was the period under
successive UNP regimes under Presidents J.R. Jayewardene and R.
Premadasa from 1977 to 1994. President Jayewardene, who once said the
only thing that the powerful executive presidency was unable to perform
was making man a woman and vise versa. That alone shows the immense
power he enjoyed with a five-sixth majority which he used to fold the
The Opposition, during that 17-year undemocratic regime, were
deprived of elections, except for the highly controversial 1983
referendum which was marred by large-scale rigging by UNP goons. The
dream of the Opposition in that era was free and fair elections as and
when they were due.
In contrast, the current Opposition, led by the UNP, has found
elections a headache as they continue to lose one poll after another.
The UNP has lost 29 successive elections and some of its leaders were
blaming the UPFA-led Government for holding ‘too many’ elections,
ranging from Presidential, Parliamentary, Provincial Council and Local
Not only the UNP but also other political parties in the Opposition
are now compelled to face yet another election - this time the Uva
Provincial Council election. It seems that the UNP's 30th successive
election defeat is inevitable as the UPFA is well set for another clean
sweep under the illustrious leadership of President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
But the Opposition is now compelled to prove its boasts before the
much talked about early Presidential election next year. Another
landslide victory for the UPFA would push the Opposition further towards
the political wilderness, making it extremely difficult for any of their
candidates to poll a sizable number of votes. The Opposition's effort to
find a so-called common candidate for the Presidential election too has
become another futile exercise as none of the party leaders are ready to
forgo their chance of competing.
Nominations for the Uva Provincial Council elections will be received
from July 30 to August 6 at the nomination centres in the respective
District Secretariats,according to the Elections Commissioner Mahinda
Uva Provincial Council was dissolved with effect from midnight July
11. A total of 600,966 voters from the Badulla district and 332,764
voters from the Moneragala district will form the voting strength of the
Uva Province, which will elect 32 members plus two bonus seats.
The Elections Commissioner said the Uva Provincial Council elections
will be held before the end of September. “I cannot tell the exact date,
but it will be held in September,” he was quoted as saying. Deshapriya
said the distribution of seats was decided in keeping with the election
Shashendra challenges Harin
Former Uva Province Chief Minister Shashendra Rajapaksa has said that
UNP Parliamentarian Harin Fernando who is tipped to be the UNP's Chief
Ministerial candidate for the Uva Province was no challenge to him and
there was no point in placing bets as Harin's defeat was certain at the
Rajapaksa has challenged Fernando to come up with a better program
than his for the improvement of the livelihood of the people in the Uva
Province. He said that the most senior UNPers have lost confidence and
started leaving the party.
The former Chief Minister said UNP Diyathalawa organiser Ravi
Gunawardena is one of the senior UNP organisers who supported the UPFA's
program for the development of the province. “The Uva Provincial Council
was able to uplift the living standards of the people in the region
during my tenure. All former members of the council are prepared to face
elections confidently,” he said. Rajapaksa said that he proved that
Provincial Councils can be used as a tool for the uplift of people at
Anura Yapa points out election law
The Elections Commissioner has announced the allocation of seats to
the Badulla and Moneragala districts in the Uva Provincial Council.
Based on the extent of land, Moneragala district is well ahead of
Hence, three seats from Badulla district has been scrapped to be
added to the Moneragala district.
The composition of a Provincial Council is clearly mentioned in the
Provincial Councils Act (No 2 of 1988) and the Government cannot go
beyond the Provincial Council Elections Act. The UPFA, refuting
allegations that the Government was planning to change the composition
of the Uva Provincial Council, said the reallocation of seats has been
done in keeping with the elections la and the decision of the Elections
Commissioner was final and cannot be questioned in any court.
Addressing the media last week, Petroleum Industries Minister Anura
Priyadharshana Yapa refuted allegations made by the opposition regarding
the number of Councillors to be elected at the Uva Provincial Council
He rejected outright the opposition’s claim that the government was
trying to change the composition of the Council to win the election
He said the Elections Commissioner has the legal power to take
decisions regarding the composition of the Council. So the opposition
should not give a political interpretation to the legal powers of the
Elections Commissioner. He also said that the UPFA has no doubts about
its victory at the Uva Provincial Council Elections. Since the
opposition has no clear vision, they make various allegations against
TNA accepts undivided Sri Lanka
The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) last week submitted an affidavit
before the Supreme Court, swearing its acceptance of an undivided Sri
Earlier during the week, President's Counsel K. Kanageeshwaran
appearing for the TNA in a case concerning seven petitions filed before
the Supreme Court to annul the results of the Northern Provincial
Council election due to the TNA Party Constitution and election
manifesto containing references to a separate state, agreed to do so.
The Bench comprised Chief Justice Mohan Peiris PC and Justices Rohini
Marasinghe and Priyantha Jayawardena.
The Chief Justice said that all citizens should express their
allegiance to a single Constitution and those coming before court, be
they Sinhala, Tamil or Muslim, will be treated equally sans religious,
racial or other differences.
The petitioners were Ven. Bengamuwe Nalaka Thera, Dr. Gunadasa
Amarasekera, Gallege Punyawardena, U.A. Abeykoon, Ravi Kumara, Unawatune
Amarasiri and H.K.D. Chandrasoma. They cited TNA General Secretary and
ITAK leader Mavai Senathiraja, TNA leader R. Sambandan, Elections
Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya and the Attorney General as the
The petitioners also wanted the Court to declare that the ITAK was a
political party that had as its chief aim the establishment of a
separate state in Sri Lanka. Further hearings were put off for July 28.
Earlier, the Supreme Court ordered the Northern Province Chief
Minister C. V. Vigneshwaran to withdraw a circular officially issued by
him to the staff of the Northern Provincial Council including the Chief
Secretary, Ms. V. Ramesh.
The Supreme Court issued this order having considered the Fundamental
Rights Application by Chief Secretary to the Northern Provincial Council
Ms. Vijayalaxmi Ramesh stating the Chief Minister violated her
fundamental rights by illegally interfering with duties assigned by the
President’s Counsel Kanageeshwaran appearing for C. V. Vigneshwaran
stated that the respondent withdrew the circular following the Supreme
Court issuing an interim injunction on a previous hearing date,
preventing the Chief Minister from issuing the circular.
However, Court observed that if that was the case, the withdrawal of
the circular should officially be brought to the notice of the
President telephones Palestinian counterpart
President Mahinda Rajapaksa telephoned his Palestinian counterpart -
President Mahmoud Abbas, on Sunday and conveyed Sri Lanka’s condolences
to those who lost their lives in Gaza.
President Rajapaksa telephoned Palestinian President Abbas to inquire
about the situation in Gaza and offered his condolences to lives lost,
the President tweeted.
Foreign media reported that at least 166 Palestinians, mostly
civilians, have been killed in Gaza in the seven days of conflict
between the two sides, while more than 1,000 have been injured. No
Israelis have been killed so far, although militants in Gaza have
pounded the country with nearly 700 rockets since the fighting began,
with a further 170 intercepted by the Jewish state’s Iron Dome defence
system. Families are on the run in Gaza, reports Lyse Doucet; Quentin
Sommerville in Israel says its tanks are on the move. The number of
people in Gaza seeking sanctuary from the conflict with Israel nearly
doubled on Friday.
Relief workers in Gaza said there were more than 40,000 people being
protected in 34 UN shelters. It comes after Israel sent troops and tanks
into Gaza on Thursday, targeting Hamas militants who are firing rockets
into Israel. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is due to the region this
weekend to meet both sides.
The UN Security Council is holding an emergency session to discuss
the conflict in Israel and Gaza. Earlier on Friday, Israeli Prime
Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned of a “significant expansion” of
Hamas, the Palestinian group that controls Gaza, said Israel would
“pay a high price” for the invasion.
BBS at Media Ministry
Mass Media and Information Minister Keheliya Rambukwella said last
week that media control was sometimes needed during incidents like the
one in Aluthgama to prevent possible escalation of violence.
“Sometimes there is a need for media control on such incidents to
prevent possible violent incidents in future.
People should understand that it’s not because of favouring one side.
Even the President himself had put limitations to prevent a conflict in
the country again,” he said.
He said he regretted and took the responsibility if there was any
distress or inconvenience caused to any faction by media reporting on
the incident. He expressed these views when he met organisations of
Buddhist monks including the National Sangha Council, Bodu Bala Sena
(BBS) and Sihala Ravaya at the Ministry.
The monks alleged that media reports of international, local media
institutions and some foreign missions in Sri Lanka had concealed the
harm and damage caused to the Sinhalese by the Aluthgama riots.
The General Secretary of the BBS, Ven. Galagodaatte Gnanasara Thera
charged that some ministers and parliamentarians were making false
statements on the incident. He said they should also be given more
opportunities to answer allegations against them and to make people
aware of their side of the story.
Meanwhile, Ven. Ayagama Samitha Thera said the incident where he was
assaulted was also not given publicity but said the Aluthgama riots were
given much publicity instead.
Portugal PM due in Sri Lanka today
Portugal Prime Minister Passos Coelho is due to visit Sri Lanka today
and would meet President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Prime Minister D.M.
Jayaratne, according to the Government Information Department.
Prime Minister Coelho, who will make a one-day visit to Sri Lanka,
will be received at the Bandaranaike International Airport, Katunayake
by Minister of External Affairs Prof. G.L. Peiris.
Apart from his official meetings with President Rajapaksa and Prime
Minister Jayaratne today, Prime Minister Coelho will also make a visit
to historic Dutch Fort in Galle.
CPC head welcomes UNP MPs
A group of United National Party Parliamentarians who were on a fact
finding mission to the Sapugaskanda Oil Refinery was prevented from
entering by a group of Ceylon Petroleum Corporation employees after they
were warmly welcomed by the Acting Chairman of the CPC. The MPs
abandoned their tour after they were blocked by employees of the
But the UNP Mps vowed to force themselves inside the refinery in the
next few days and complete their ‘disrupted’ fact-finding mission. UNP's
Gampaha District MP Ruwan Wijewardene told media yesterday that no one
would be able to stop them from going to the refinery during the next
“We will carry out our fact finding mission somehow or other. The MPs
who went to Sapugaskanda would make statements on Thursday's incident in
parliament next week,” Wijewardene was quoted as saying.
UNP parliamentarian Ajith Mannaperuma has said the MPs would make
repeated efforts to enter the refinery and would do so forcibly if
UNP National List MP Harsha de Silva who was referring to an
allegation made by the intelligence units that the MPs were trying to
damage the refinery by creating unrest said they had no such intention.
“The allegation made by the intelligence units is totally baseless,” he
PS chairman found guilty
Former Tangalle Pradeshiya Sabha Chairman Sampath Chandrapushpa
Vidana Pathirana and three others found guilty of the murder of British
tourist Khuram Sheik and of raping his Russian girlfriend Victoria
Alexandrovna were sentenced to 20 years rigorous imprisonment on each of
the two counts in the incident that had occurred at the Tangalle Resort
on December 24, 2012.
Colombo High Court Judge Rohini Walgama sentenced the accused: Lahiru
Kelum, Saman Deshapriya, former Tangalle PS Chairman Sampath
Chandrapushpa Vidana Pathirana and Prageeth Chaturanga to 40 years RI on
the charge of murder and rape with the jail terms to run concurrently.
The Judge acquitted M. Sarath alias Sahan and W. Chaturanga of the
charges on the grounds that they were not proved beyond reasonable
Before delivering the judgement, the Judge addressed the prosecution
and the defence saying that more than anyone else it was she who had to
face many challenges during this case. She said the trial began on April
3 and took her three and half months to conclude. The Judge said even
though this was a special case unlike other such cases where they were
heard before a jury or at a trial-at-bar but where this case was
concerned she was on her own.
She thanked the prosecution and the defence counsel for the manner in
which they presented their arguments and assisted her during the trial.
The Judge thanked the stenographers who worked round the clock in
preparing the lists of witness and noting their evidence. Justice
Walgama said she did not consider sitting on this case as a duty but as
an obligation entrusted to her by God.
Britain immediately welcomed the verdicts and sentences to those
responsible for the murder of British aid worker Khuram Shaikh. “We hope
that this will bring some closure for his family and friends who have
faced a long and difficult fight for justice,” British High Commission
in Colombo said in a statement.“The officials of the Attorney General’s
office have shown great professionalism and integrity and we would like
to thank them,” the statement said.
Iftar at Temple Trees
President Mahinda Rajapaksa participated in an Iftar ceremony at
Temple Trees on Thursday. Islam religious leaders as well as Muslim
devotees who were present at Temple Trees, praised action taken by
President Mahinda Rajapaksa to strengthen national reconciliation.
Prayers were also offered invoking blessings for national reconciliation
in the country. Prime Minister D.M. Jayaratne, ministers, deputy
ministers, ambassadors and high commissioners and large number of Islam
devotees representing the North East Province were present.
Ministers Rauf Hakeem, Rishad Badurdeen, Faiszer Musthafa, Mayor of
Colombo A.J.M. Muzzamil and several other Muslim parliamentarians were
also present. Earlier during the week, India’s Chief of the Air Staff,
Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha, called on President Mahinda Rajapaksa at
During the discussion with President Rajapaksa, Air Chief Marshal
Raha told the President that he had fruitful meetings with defense
officials during his stay in Sri Lanka.
The talks with the President were focused on a number of matters
pertaining to defense cooperation, including continued training and
joint air force exercises.
In addition to talks with Sri Lanka Air Force Commander Air Marshal
K.A. Gunatilleke, the Indian Air Forces chief also held discussions with
Secretary to the Ministry of Defence and Urban Development Gotabaya
Rajapaksa, the Commander of the Sri Lanka Army Lt. Gen. Daya Ratnayake
and the Commander of the Sri Lanka Navy Vice Admiral Jayantha Perera.