President calls for special meeting – Party leaders, MPs and Speaker asked to attend

A special party leaders meeting between President Maithripala Sirisena and all parliamentarians will be held at the Presidential Secretariat at 5 pm tomorrow (Nov 18).

According to a statement released by the President´s media division, the meeting is being held in a bid to bring an end to the tensions and bring about harmony among the parties and to be able to conduct Parliament in a manner that is respectable.

Accordingly, Speaker Karu Jayasuriya and the leaders of all parties have been extended an invitation to attend the meeting.

Rugby: CR record unimpressive 28-22 win over Sailors

Flyhalf Tarinda Ratwatte earned the spotlight for the second week running after his boots did much of the talking in CR&FC's deserving, yet unimpressive 28-22 win against Navy Sports Club in a Dialog Rugby League match played at Welisara.

CR&FC recorded the win with a tally of a converted try and seven penalties, where Ratwatte stood out with his contribution of 23 points out of the total.

CR led 19-15 at halftime. 

The Sailors made an impressive start, but later of failed to maintain it after more than 30 minutes as they worked hard and earn points from three tries, two conversions and a penalty. 

SL Youth Parliament expresses regret over recent unruly behaviour, invites MPs to observe youth Parliamentary sessions

The Sri Lanka Youth Parliament (SLYP) has extended an open invitation to all MPs to attend and observe the Youth Parliamentary sessions in order to learn the parliamentary code of discipline.

Issuing a special statement, the SLYP expressed its regret over the unruly behaviour displayed by parliamentarians during the last few parliamentary sessions. 

Accordingly, the SLYP has invited any interested MP to witness a youth parliamentary session and learn parliamentary etiquettes that include respecting the opinions of the opposition and respecting each other.

 

 

Head-on collision kills one ; 25 injured

A head-on collision between a lorry and a bus left one dead and 25 injured in Warakapola at 3:35 pm today (Nov 16)

The lorry which was travelling from Colombo to Kurunegala had collided with a bus that was approaching from the opposite direction thereby causing severe injuries to the lorry driver.

The driver had succumbed to his injuries upon submission to the Warakapola hospital. The deceased was identified as 33-year old N.H. Saman Kumara, a resident of Alawwa.

Warakapola police are conducting further investigations into the incident.

 

Govt MPs to continue to challenge NCM till due procedure is followed – C.B. Ratnayake

Government MPs will continue to challenge the no-confidence motion (NCM) until due proceedures are followed, UPFA MP C.B. Ratnayake said.

Speaking to Times Online, MP Ratnayake said that the proper proceedure should  have been followed when the NCM was brought against PM Rajapaksa.

This matter was discussed at the closed door meeting  held between government MPs and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa ealier today (Nov 17)

Mr. Ratnayake  said that the Speaker had not accepted the NCM against Former Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne although they had submitted it two years ago.

"The NCM against Ravi Karunanayake was not accepted by the Speaker until he (Ravi) eventually resigned from his portfolio. The NCM against Ranil Wickremesinghe was also taken up only after a month following submission. However, the NCM against Mahinda Rajapaksa was taken up within 10 minutes of submission," C.B. Ratnayake told Times Online.

He also said that the Speaker should have given adequate time to study the NCM brought against Mahinda Rajapaksa.

 

 

 

Norway provides US$3.5 million in order to expand LEED+ project in Sri Lanka

Norway has provided US$3.5 million  to Sri Lanka in order to expand the 'Local Empowerment through Economic Development and Reconciliation' (LEED+) project implemented by the International Labour Organization.

Accordingly, the agreement was signed between Norway's Ambassador to Sri Lanka Thorbjørn Gaustadsæther and the Country Director of the ILO Simrin Singh, on Thursday (Nov 15)

The project is jointly-funded by Australia and Norway, and aims to improve sustainable livelihoods for the vulnerable population in Northern Province by establishing and strengthening local cooperatives, improving small and medium enterprises, and empowering women.

The project is expected to particularly focus on vulnerable women and persons with disabilities.

Govt. MPs used mixture of coca cola and lemonade in Parliament attack : S.B. Dissanayake

Denying claims that the opposition MPs and police personnel were attacked with chillie powder mixed with water, MP S. B. Dissanayake said  instead the government MPs used a mixture of coca-cola with lemonade.

The Minister made this statement in response to a question raised by a journalist at a press briefing.He also added that  he was on the side of the Police during the incident.

 

 

 

 

No-confidence motion to be brought against Speaker : Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena

MP Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena has said that the government is planning to put forward a no-confidence motion against Speaker Karu Jayasuriya in the near future.

MP Abeywardena made this statement at a media briefing that was held this afternoon.

"We will present a no-confidence motion against the Speaker. Before that we have to sort out a few matters in Parliament," he was quoted saying.

CIA concludes Saudi crown prince ordered journalist’s killing

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The CIA believes Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul, sources familiar with the matter said on Friday, complicating President Donald Trump’s efforts to preserve ties with a key U.S. ally.

The sources said the CIA had briefed other parts of the U.S. government, including Congress, on its assessment, which contradicts Saudi government assertions that Prince Mohammed was not involved.

The CIA’s finding, first reported by the Washington Post, is the most definitive U.S. assessment to date tying Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler directly to the killing.

Both the White House and the State Department declined to comment.

“The claims in this purported assessment is false,” a spokeswoman for the Saudi Embassy in Washington said in a statement. “We have and continue to hear various theories without seeing the primary basis for these speculations.”

Khashoggi, a critic of the Saudi government and a columnist for the Washington Post, was killed at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2 when he went there to pick up documents he needed for his planned marriage to a Turkish woman.

Scheming and sacking leaves Sri Lanka’s prime ministership in limbo

The controversial suspension of Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and his replacement by former president Mahinda Rajapaksa was a strategic move that has been many months in the making. The move has garnered criticism both at home and abroad for removing a prime minister unconstitutionally.

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By Roshni Kapur NUS

The controversial suspension of Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and his replacement by former president Mahinda Rajapaksa was a strategic move that has been many months in the making. The move has garnered criticism both at home and abroad for removing a prime minister unconstitutionally.

On 26 October 2018, President Maithripala Sirisena dismissed Wickremesinghe and inducted Rajapaksa as the new prime minister. Sirisena then suspended parliament until 16 November 2018 to prevent Wickremesinghe from proving his majority in the parliament.

Wickremesinghe insists that he is still the prime minister, refusing to vacate the prime minister’s official residence at Temple Trees. He has also requested that the Speaker of Parliament convene an emergency session for him to demonstrate his majority.

Sirisena said the main reason for sacking Wickremesinghe was the alleged involvement of a cabinet minister in an attempt to assassinate him. But this story is simply an excuse. Sirisena has been planning to get rid of Wickremesinghe for months.

Sirisena, from the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), initially appointed Wickremesinghe from the United National Party (UNP) as his prime minister as part of an alliance. Tensions between the SLFP and UNP have been simmering for some time due to administrative and economic policy differences. The triumph of Rajapaksa’s Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) over both parties in recent local elections aggravated these tensions.

Sirisena was general secretary in Rajapaksa’s government before he defected to run in the 2015 presidential elections. With the backing of UNP, Sirisena ran on a platform of anti-corruption, economic reform and transitional justice. Luck was on his side as he won 51.3 per cent of the total vote over Rajapaksa, who received 47.6 per cent. Tamil and Muslim minority communities voted for and saw Sirisena as a beacon of hope, one that would usher in a new brand of politics.

In contrast, Wickremesinghe’s political career has been riven with bad luck. He has been prime minister for four different tenures since 1983. The question now is whether his latest ouster will spell the demise of his political career or whether he will manage to make a comeback in the forthcoming presidential elections.

While Wickremesinghe’s supporters insist that his dismissal is unconstitutional, 20 legislators are reportedly planning to switch sides. Defecting from a party and joining the opposition is common in Sri Lankan politics. Unlike other democracies where politicians have an ideological backing and loyalty to their respective parties, it is not uncommon for government officials in Sri Lanka to change parties for political gain.

Sirisena is well aware that his chances of returning as president are slim given the government’s poor performance in the last three years. An opinion poll conducted by the Centre for Policy Alternatives in April 2017 stated that only 1.1 per cent of the respondents thought that the government’s performance has been excellent and does not require further improvement.

Public approval of the government’s performance plunged due to its inability to tackle corruption, inflation, unemployment and post-war grievances. The country was listed as 91 out of 176 countries in Transparency International’s 2017 Corruption Perception Index. Corruption is entrenched at every level of the state’s administration. Companies have reported instances of bribes and other forms of unwarranted payment, especially in public procurement processes. The government was also hit by the Central Bank bond scandal where the onus fell on Wickremesinghe.

So Sirisena covertly reached out to Rajapaksa for a political alliance. The President was reportedly cutting deals with Rajapaksa earlier this year. He is now capitalising on Rajapaksa’s strong support from the country’s Sinhalese community mainly in the southern, western and central provinces. Their loyalty to the former president has increased with the Sirisena government’s poor delivery.

Rajapaksa’s comeback as prime minister shows that he was a key player in the country’s political landscape all along, even when he sat as an opposition legislator. But amid the ongoing political uncertainty in Sri Lanka, with the Supreme Court overturning Sirisena’s decision to dissolve parliament and call for early elections, there is a high likelihood that Rajapaksa will not be recognised as the new prime minister. Perhaps Sirisena’s good luck is withering away.

Roshni Kapur is a Research Assistant at the Institute of South Asian Studies, an autonomous research institute at the National University of Singapore (NUS).

A version of this article was originally published here on RSIS.