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December 11, 2017 [GMT]
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SC dismisses petition against ITAK; says advocating federal form of govt. isn’t separatism
[Saturday 2017-08-12 15:00]

The Supreme Court (SC) declared this week that advocating for a federal form of government within the existing state could not be considered as advocating separatism and that the Illankai Thamil Arasu Kadchi (ITAK) does not, support, espouse, promote, finance, encourage or advocate the establishment of a separate state within the territory of Sri Lanka as envisaged under Article 157A of the Constitution.

The Supreme Court (SC) declared this week that advocating for a federal form of government within the existing state could not be considered as advocating separatism and that the Illankai Thamil Arasu Kadchi (ITAK) does not, support, espouse, promote, finance, encourage or advocate the establishment of a separate state within the territory of Sri Lanka as envisaged under Article 157A of the Constitution.

  

Dismissing the petition filed by H. K. Don Chandrasoma of Kelaniya who sought a Court order declaring that ITAK is a political party which has as one of its “aims” and “objects” the establishment of a separate state within the territory of Sri Lanka, the three-member SC bench said, “ITAK is advocating for a federalist form of government by devolving more powers to the provinces within the framework of a unitary state,” adding that “advocating for a federal form of government within the existing state could not be considered advocating separatism.” The bench comprised Chief Justice Prasanth Dep, Justice Uppal Abeyrathne and Justice Anil Goonertane.

In the landmark ruling, the SC said the labelling of states as unitary and federal sometimes may be misleading. “There could be unitary states with features or attributes of a federal state and vice versa. In a unitary state, if more powers are given to the units it could be considered a federal state. Similarly, in a federal state, if the Center is powerful and the power is concentrated in the Centre it could be considered a unitary state. Therefore, sharing of sovereignty, devolution of power and decentralisation will pave the way for a federal form of government within a unitary state,” the Court said. It cited the 13th Amendment to the Constitution as an instance where power was devolved to the provinces.

The case was filed on April 2016 and decided on 4 August, 2017.The Petitioner sought a declaration under and in terms of Article 157A (4) of the Constitution (as amended by the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution) of Sri Lanka. He cited ITAK Secretary Mawai S. Senathirajah, Commissioner of Elections Mahinda Deshapriya and the Attorney General as respondents.

  
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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).



Debt-ridden SriLankan Airlines faces closure
[Sunday 2017-12-10 18:00]

The national carrier SriLankan Airlines faces closure “in the larger interest of the country’s economy” if “tangible and sustainable restructuring cannot be achieved,” its Chairman Ajit Dias has warned. Pointing out that the airlines’ principal lenders, the two state-run banks, are at a “risk situation,” he has said in a message to all SriLankan employees that there were only two options.



TNA in bid to rescue the alliance, as crisis deepens
[Sunday 2017-12-10 18:00]

The split within the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) has widened following disagreements among alliance partners over chair positions in local councils. Last week, the Eelam People’s Revolutionary Liberation Front (EPRLF) left the TNA and formed an alliance with the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF). The EPRLF has decided to contest the local council polls under the TULF’s rising sun symbol.



Amendment to Local Authorities Elections Ordinance passed
[Sunday 2017-12-10 18:00]

Parliament yesterday approved an amendment to the Local Authorities Elections Ordinance laying down the procedure for the appointment of members to multi- member wards as well as to remove the inconsistencies between the Sinhala and English drafts of the Act. The amendment bill was passed amidst objections from both the JVP and the JO group who said that such an amendment should not be rushed through the House without proper debate.



Malaysia’s envoy recalled ahead of PM’s visit
[Sunday 2017-12-10 18:00]

The Malaysian Government has re-called its envoy Wan Zaidi Wan Abdullah just days before Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak arrives in Sri Lanka for a two-day official visit. Diplomatic sources in Colombo said a high level team from the Malaysian Foreign Ministry will arrive as an advance party to help in Premier Najib’s visit. Though the recall itself is due to a serious issue, these sources were unaware of what exactly triggered the visit of the advanced party before the Malaysian PM arrived. Premier Najib Razak and an official entourage are due to arrive in Colombo on the night of December 17 and depart on 19.



CC submits names of seven nominees for OMP to President
[Saturday 2017-12-09 18:00]

The Constitutional Council (CC) has selected the seven members to be appointed to the Office for Missing Persons (OMP) by President Maithripala Sirisena in keeping with the law. However, CC member and JVP MP Vijitha Herath has reportedly registered his protest over the nomination of Women's rights activist Nimalka Fernando as a member of the OMP, a body mandated to investigate cases related to those who disappeared during the war.



Third reading of 2018 Budget passed in parliament
[Saturday 2017-12-09 18:00]

The third reading of the Appropriation Bill for 2018 was passed in parliament today (9) with a majority of 99 votes. 155 voted in favour of the bill with 56 voting against it. The decision was made following the committee stage debates on the Appropriation Bill that commenced on November 17.



No talks on ‘political marriage’ at Yapa’s wedding – MR
[Saturday 2017-12-09 18:00]

Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday ruled out the possibility of the Joint Opposition (JO) joining forces with its rival faction in the SLFP to contest polls. Ex-President Rajapaksa said that though he had met Maithripala Sirisena at the wedding of State Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena’s son there had been no talks on a political marriage. "We didn’t discuss politics. President Sirisena told me he had to attend another wedding and I,too, had to go for another wedding. Meanwhile, former External Affairs Minister and Chairman of Podujana Peramuna Prof. G. L. Peiris told The Island that the JO’s decision to go it alone was final. "We are busy finalising nominations."



Hambantota port formally handed over to China-led company
[Saturday 2017-12-09 18:00]

The Hambantota port was today formally handed over to a China-led company and Sri Lanka received its initial payment for the lease. Following the signing of an agreement, the port operations was handed over to Hambantota International Port Group (HIPG) and Hambantota International Port Services (HIPS). China Merchants Port Holdings Company Ltd. (CMPort) owns 85% and Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) owns 15% of the stake in Hambantota International Port Group Ltd. (HIPG), which will undertake the project identified to restructure the Hambantota Port development and transform it to be a commercially-viable national asset in collaboration with the SLPA with an envisaged investment of $794 million.



KP under protective custody - Kabir
[Saturday 2017-12-09 18:00]

Public Enterprise Development Minister Kabir Hashim yesterday confirmed that former LTTE chief international financier Kumaran Pathmanathan alias KP was being detained in an Army camp. Hashim addressing a media briefing at Sirikotha, answered questions with regard to the current whereabouts of the most senior member of the LTTE and assured the media that he was under Army custody. “Unlike the former government, we have taken him from Visumpaya and shifted him into protective custody. Legal action is being taken against him,” the Minister said.



Five Ava suspects remanded
[Saturday 2017-12-09 18:00]

Five members of the infamous Ava group were arrested by the Waddukottai Police yesterday. It was revealed that the arrested suspects were involved in a murder case in Chavakachcheri. Police arrested the suspects on a tip off from a house at Waddukkottai. Upon searching the house, the Police took five suspects into custody, while one suspect fled the scene. According to Police, the arrested suspects are residents of Wadukkottai, Chavakachcheri and Lunawil. The suspects were produced before the Mallakkam Magistrate and were remanded.



TNA heading for another split
[Friday 2017-12-08 19:00]

Another split is imminent in the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), with Tamil Eelam Liberation Organization (TELO), which is one of the four constituent parties in the TNA, decides to keep away from contesting along with the Ilankai Tamil Arasu Katchchi (ITAK) at the forthcoming Local Government polls.



Dissenting Tamil lawmakers in Sri Lanka form new coalition
[Friday 2017-12-08 19:00]

A group of dissenting Sri Lankan Tamil lawmakers has formed a new coalition to challenge the TNA which has come under severe criticism for going soft on the governments delay in delivering justice to the minority community, a parliamentarian said today. Tamil parliamentarian Sivashakthi Anandan said the Tamil Liberation Alliance (TLA) has been formed to challenge the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) which is the main political front for the Tamil minorities in Sri Lanka.



US to transfer Coast Guard Cutter to SL
[Friday 2017-12-08 19:00]

A US Coast Guard Cutter would be transferred to Sri Lanka further enhancing US-Sri Lanka Indo Pacific Partnership, the US Embassy said today. Ahead of the transfer, US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Thomas A. Shannon said this Coast Guard Cutter is a tangible symbol of growing partnership between the two countries and reflects shared commitment of the two nations to regional stability.



Dinesh wants MR's security strengthened
[Friday 2017-12-08 19:00]

Joint opposition MP Dinesh Gunawardane today requested Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to strengthen former president Mahinda Rajapaksa's security considering the security threat to his life when participating at JO election rallies for the LG elections. He told parliament that the security forces were finding it difficult to prevent people from entering high security zones and maintaining no-go areas at the rallies which would be attended by Mr. Rajapaksa.



Army chief seeks support for reconciliation process
[Friday 2017-12-08 19:00]

Army commander Lieutenant General Mahesh Senanayake has sought support for the Government’s reconciliation initiatives. The commander said that the Army can assist the reconciliation process by building civil-military partnerships, which he says is essential and important to counter violent extremism and sustain the hard-earned peace.



ITAK expresses confidence in TNA unity Reaches consensus with TELO on LG polls seats
[Friday 2017-12-08 19:00]

The Illankai Tamil Arasu Katchchi (ITAK) Leader and Jaffna District Parliamentarian Mavai S. Senathirajah is confident that the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) will continue to remain strong and that the ITAK has reached a compromise with the Tamil Eelam Liberation Organization (TELO) over the allocation of seats for the Local Government polls (LG), for the constituent Parties in the TNA. Senathirajah told Ceylon Today, that there had been some misunderstandings, before, over the allocation of seats for the forthcoming LG polls.



TELO leaves TNA
[Thursday 2017-12-07 18:00]

In what appeared to a further split of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), the Tamil Eelam Liberation Organization (TELO) decided to leave it to join hands with other Tamil parties to contest the local government elections, it is learnt. The TELO’s politburo that met in Vavuniya on Tuesday took this decision. The 21member presidium council of TELO concluded that, TELO could not be any more ‘a co-traveller’ with the ITAK in the Tamil National Alliance.



Sri Lanka to establish a 400 MW Natural Gas Power Plant in Hambantota
[Thursday 2017-12-07 18:00]

Considering the importance of introducing Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) as a source of energy to Sri Lanka, the Government has held discussions with Government of China to jointly establish a 400 megawatt natural gas power plant in Hambantota on G2G basis. The project will be implemented with the prime objective of providing electricity to the industrial zone proposed to be constructed at Hambantota and to overcome the power scarcity that may occur in the future.


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