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December 14, 2017 [GMT]
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TNA won’t back 20 A: Govt. move to put off PC polls in jeopardy
[Saturday 2017-08-12 15:00]

The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) yesterday declared that it wouldn’t support the 20th Amendment to the Constitution in its present form, under any circumstances, top party spokesperson, Jaffna District MP M.A. Sumanthiran told The Island.
The TNA parliamentary group comprises 16 members, including two National List MPs.

The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) yesterday declared that it wouldn’t support the 20th Amendment to the Constitution in its present form, under any circumstances, top party spokesperson, Jaffna District MP M.A. Sumanthiran told The Island. The TNA parliamentary group comprises 16 members, including two National List MPs.


Asked whether the four-party coalition was having discussions with the government regarding the 20th Amendment that would vest in Parliament the powers of dissolved Provincial Council, MP Sumanthiran ruled out any agreement on proposed Amendment as, he said, it didn’t reflect understanding among all political parties represented in parliament. The proposed controversial 20th Amendment will also enable all Provincial Council elections to be held simultaneously and for Parliament to determine the date of dissolution of all PCs.

Attorney-at-law Sumanthiran emphasised that the government could have avoided unnecessary trouble had it prepared the Bill in accordance with the agreement reached among political parties following a series of consultations over a period of time. The TNA consists of the Illankai Thamil Arasu Kadchi (ITAK), the PLOTE, TELO and EPRLF. ITAK heavyweight MP Sumanthiran explained that political parties represented in parliament subsequent to a spate of deliberations had accepted what he called 60:40 Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) system in respect of Provincial Council polls.

The Sabaragamuwa, Eastern and North Central will complete five year terms on Sept. 26, Sept. 30 and Oct. 1, respectively. In accordance with the Provincial Council Election Act No 02 of 1988, the National Elections Commission (NEC) will have to call nominations on Oct. 2 or 3. Uva Provincial Council will be the last PC to complete its term on Oct. 8, 2019. MP Sumanthiran pointed out that there hadn’t been a previous consensus among political parties regarding unified electoral representation system. In answer to a query, MP Sumanthiran said that the agreement on 60:40 MMP system in respect of Provincial Councils should be examined against the backdrop of the political parties’ readiness to accept the same formula for both parliamentary and Local Government polls.

In accordance with the agreed formula, which, MP Sumanthiran said, had been discussed at the Steering Committee spearheading the constitutional making process, 60 per cent of members would be elected and 40 per cent named. The TNA spokesman described the accord at all three levels, namely parliamentary, provincial councils and local government a significant achievement. Asked who had directed that 20th Amendment to be drafted in contravention of their agreement, MP declined to comment. "All I can say is what has been presented to political parties certainly does not reflect the agreement reached, hence the decision to oppose it."

Sumanthiran said the country would know whether the proposed Amendment required to be approved in parliament with a two-thirds majority and by people at a referendum in case an aggrieved party sought the opinion of the Supreme Court. When it was pointed out that those who had so far addressed the issue at hand conveniently refrained from commenting on ‘all party consensus’ on 60:40 mixed member proportional system for all three levels, MP Sumanthiran said that all political parties participated in that process. The Joint Opposition, too, had been represented, MP Sumanthiran said, adding that in addition to a constitutional amendment an amendment to the Provincial Council Election Act had to be effected to enable the postponement of PC polls, political parties agreed to launch a delimitation process at provincial level.

MP Sumanthiran said that the TNA would definitely vote for the 20th Amendment if the government reintroduced it with what had been agreed by other parties incorporated thereinto. The TNA spokesperson stressed that the move to bring in an amendment only to put off PC polls was not acceptable to them. Political sources said that the UNP-SLFP combine couldn’t secure a two-thirds majority in parliament without the backing of the TNA (16 seats).

The UNP and the UPFA secured 106 and 95 seats, respectively at the last general election in August 2015, out of the 95 seats obtained by the UPFA, about 52 members joined the Joint Opposition (JO) at the expense of President Maithripala Sirisena.

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Appeal against the acquittal of suspects in TNA MP's murder to be heard on February 16
[Wednesday 2017-12-13 18:00]

The Court of Appeal today fixed the date to hear the appeal filed against the verdict issued by a lower court in exonerating all the suspects in the murder of Tamil National Alliance parliamentarian Nadarajah Raviraj. Appeal Court Judge, Kumudini Wickremasinghe fixed February 16th to hear the petition when it was taken up before the court today. The petition filed by the wife of late MP Shashikala Raviraj seeks an order to set aside the verdict of the Colombo High Court to acquit and release all accused from the case.

Tamil prisoners’ CA appeal to be supported on 22 Feb.
[Wednesday 2017-12-13 18:00]

Court of Appeal yesterday (12) fixed for support on February 2 the petition filed Tamil prisoners seeking to transfer their case back to Vavuniya High Court from Anuradhapura High Court. The matter came up before Justice L.B.T.Dehideniya (President/CA) Attorney General on November 15 had informed the Court that it is being implored the possibility of transferring the Tamil prisoners’ case back to Vavuniya High Court from Anuradhapura High Court.

Indian Air Force Commander calls on President
[Wednesday 2017-12-13 18:00]

Indian Air Force Commander Air Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa called on President Maithripala Sirisena at the President’s Official residence yesterday. Air Force Commander Air Marshal Kapila Jayampathy and Indian High Commissioner in Colombo Shri Taranjit Singh Sandhu were present.

IAI plans to upgrade Sri Lanka's ageing Kfir fighter jets
[Wednesday 2017-12-13 18:00]

Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) is in discussions with Sri Lanka to upgrade and return to service its Kfir fighter aircraft, according to the UK-based defense publication, Jane's Defence Weekly. Speaking to Jane's on 12 December, a senior IAI official said the company is in talks with the Sri Lankan government to upgrade and return to service its five grounded Kfir fighters.

Malaysian Prime Minister to visit Sri Lanka on December 17
[Wednesday 2017-12-13 18:00]

Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak will pay a two-day official visit to Sri Lanka starting from 17 December, the Malaysian Foreign Ministry said in a statement today. The Foreign Ministry Wisma Putra said in a "planned movement" the Malaysian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Wan Zaidi Wan Abdullah was reassigned and given a new assignment prior to the Prime Minister's visit.

Another UPFA JO MP to join Sirisena?
[Wednesday 2017-12-13 18:00]

A Ratnapura District United People's Freedom Alliance Parliamentarian, now a member of the Joint Opposition, is expected to extend his support to President Maithripala Sirisena, informed political sources said. It is learnt the initial discussions held with a view to supporting the President have thus far proven fruitful. The MP is soon to meet with the President and intimate to him that he is prepared to support the President and the Government, reports say.

President's letter to Naseby: PHU says govt. kept it a secret
[Tuesday 2017-12-12 18:00]

The Pivithuru Hela Urumaya (PHU) yesterday said a letter of thank sent by President Maithripala Sirisena to Lord Naseby had been kept concealed by the government due to the pressure of Tamil separatists. Addressing a news briefing, PHU Leader and MP Udaya Gammanpila said Lord Naseby of the British House of Lords made a statement in UK Parliament in October saying no war crime was committed in Sri Lanka. “The President has sent a letter on behalf of Sri Lanka thanking Lord Naseby. This should be commended but neither Sri Lanka nor the UK knows about this letter,” he said.

PC election could be held after March - AG
[Tuesday 2017-12-12 18:00]

The Attorney General yesterday informed the Supreme Court that Provincial Council elections could be held after March next year following the completion of the delimitation process. Additional Solicitor General Indika Demuni de Silva appearing on behalf of the Attorney General made these remarks pursuant to Fundamental Rights petitions filed by former Minister G.L. Peiris and six others challenging the enactment procedure of Provincial Council Election Bill which were taken up for support.

TNA confident of winning LG polls despite split
[Tuesday 2017-12-12 18:00]

The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) says it is confident of winning the Local Government (LG) elections in the North and East despite a major split in the alliance. TNA spokesman and Parliamentarian M.A. Sumanthiran said that three political parties will contest the LG elections together on behalf of the TNA under the Illangai Thamil Arasu Katchi.

Closing date for postal voting applications extended
[Tuesday 2017-12-12 18:00]

The closing date for postal voting applications for all 341 Local Government bodies has been extended until December 22, 2017, Additional Election Commissioner M.M. Mohammad yesterday said. He was speaking at a media briefing at the Police Headquarters last evening. The applications for postal votes for 93 LG bodies were called on November 28, 2017. Applications for the rest of the LG bodies were called for on December 4, 2017. Since there would be two deadlines for receiving postal vote applications, Mohammad said that a discussion was held to decide on a single date to conclude receiving applications.

Three more Aava thugs arrested
[Tuesday 2017-12-12 18:00]

Three members of the notorious criminal gang, the 'Aava' Group, were arrested from Tellippalai in Jaffna by the Police while they were carrying several weapons. The Police Media Spokesman's Office said that the suspects were arrested on 10 December night in a special operation carried out following a tip off that the armed thugs were threatening and terrorising several villagers in the Manippai and Tellippalai areas of Jaffna.

Constitutional Assembly debate postponed
[Tuesday 2017-12-12 18:00]

The Constitutional Assembly debate which was scheduled to be held yesterday (11) had to be postponed because the ten MPs who were entrusted with the task of discussing the Interim Report of the Constitutional Assembly were not present when the meeting was called to order. The meeting was called to order at 11:30 a.m. by its Chairman, Karu Jayasuriya. Due to this reason, the Chairman decided to postpone the meeting till the third week of January 2018.

Sixty law students pass out from Jaffna Uni Nearly half of them from the South
[Monday 2017-12-11 18:00]

Sixty law students passed out of the Jaffna University on Friday (Dec 8). Twenty four of them were from the South. The eighth batch of the Department of Law, University of Jaffna included the highest number of students from the South. The first five batches hadn’t included students from the South though the Jaffna peninsula was under government control since 1995. The 33rd General Convocation of University of Jaffna was held at the Kailasapillai hall.

Journalist attacked in Mullaitivu One assailant faces citizen’s arrest
[Monday 2017-12-11 18:00]

A journalist was attacked in Mullaitivu on Friday night, the Tamil Guardian reports. Three people on a motorcycle attempted to block the journalist, Subramaniam Baskaran, while he was riding his motorcycle in the Pandiankulam area of Mankulam in Mullaitivu. Although Baskaran attempted to swerve and escape, the assailants continued to chase after him on their motorcycle, which he noted did not have a registration plate. Baskaran sustained injuries to his head and arm. After managing to flee, Baskaran sought refuge in a three-wheeler park at the Mankulam junction. One of the attackers was caught by locals who had given chase and was handed over to police. Mankulam police are investigating the attack.

Parliamentary group condemns US decision on Jerusalem
[Monday 2017-12-11 18:00]

The Sri Lanka Palestine Parliamentary Friendship Society has condemned the US decision to recognise Jeruselam as the captial of Israel. The statement issued by Health Minister Dr Rajitha Senaratne and MP Bimal Ratnayake on behalf of an all- party parliamentary group: "The Sri Lanka Palestine Parliamentary Friendship Society (SPPFS) condemns strongly the decision of US President Donald Trump to recognize Jerusalem as capital of Israel and transfer the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Three NFF leaders join SLFP
[Monday 2017-12-11 18:00]

National Freedom Front (NFF) Deputy Leader Weerakumara Dissanayake, National Organiser Piyasiri Wijenayake and North Central Provincial Councillor P.B. Kumara today joined the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) led by President Maithripala Sirisena. They obtained their new SLFP memberships from the President at the Presidential Secretariat. In a statement, the President’s Media Division said the three members pledged their support to President Sirisena at the upcoming local government election.

Local council polls: Stern warning to public officials
[Monday 2017-12-11 18:00]

Public officials who fail to prevent the misuse of state resources or property during the upcoming local council elections will be liable to a fine or jail term, a senior Elections Commission official said. Additional Elections Commissioner M.M. Mohamed told the Sunday Times that the Commission, in contrast to previous elections of only issuing directives and guidelines, would be issuing a gazette notification thereby giving it legal effect.

JO loses MP to President
[Monday 2017-12-11 18:00]

UPFA Digamadulla MP Sriyani Wijewickrema yesterday evening pledged her support to President Maithripala Sirisena. MP Wijewickrema, who is a lawyer by profession, was among those elected members who joined the Joint Opposition (JO) following the formation of the UNP-SLFP joint administration. The JO comprise 55 members, including former President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Last month, JO member Geetha Kumarasinghe lost her seat due to a court ruling. Altogether 95 were elected and appointed on the UPFA list at the last parliamentary polls in August 2015.

United States, India and Japan raised concerns on Hambantota deal
[Sunday 2017-12-10 18:00]

The United States, India and Japan had raised concerns on the Hambantota deal with China, the Reuters news agency reported. Sri Lanka formally handed over commercial activities in its main southern port to a Chinese company on Saturday and received US$292 million out of a US$1.12 billion deal, Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera said.

New Muslim alliance formed to contest LG polls
[Sunday 2017-12-10 18:00]

A new Muslim alliance has been formed to contest the Local Government (LG) elections next year. The All Ceylon Makkal Congress (ACMC), which is part of the Government, today announced the formation of the new political alliance. “This is a turning point in Sri Lanka’s Muslim political history. The ACMC led by me and the United Peace Alliance led by Basheer Segu Dawood are joining to form the United People’s Alliance (UPA).

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