The Lanka Academic

VOL. 4, NO. 283

Headline Summary
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SLFP-JVP alliance finally a reality?
Alladin Hussein in Colombo, January 14, 2004, 10.30 pm. Unconfirmed reports claim that the alliance between Sri Lanka Freedom Party and the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna would be sealed mid next week.

Even though initial reports indicated that the two parties were planning to sign the much-hyped Memorandum of Understanding at the Independence Square, reports now state that the signing will take place at the BMICH.

During the last round of discussions held on Monday evening, the two parties appointed a joint committee to coordinate work of the signing ceremony. The committee comprises: Maithripala Sirisena, Mahinda Rajapakse, Nimal Siripala de Silva, Sarath Amunugama and Alavi Moulana of the SLFP, and Wimal Weerawansa, Anura Dissanayake and Wijitha Herath of JVP.
Published: Wed Jan 14 11:35:44 EST 2004

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Chandrika's PA finalises alliance with JVP  -
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Mano-Malik talks to resume this month
Alladin Hussein in Colombo, January 14, 2004, 10.04 pm. The committee appointed by President Chandrika Kumaratunga and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to find a solution to the on-going political crisis, is expected to resume discussions before end January.

The Mano Tittawella - Malik Samarawickrema committee was formed late last year, soon after President Chandrika Kumaratunga took over the Defence, Interior and Mass Communication ministries. The objective of the committee was to discuss matters of conflict and reach a consensus on vital issues such as the peace process.

However talks were suspended again in mid December, as both Mr. Samarawickrema and Mr. Tittawella left the Island.

Meanwhile the resumption of talks between the Mano-Malik committee came amidst reports that a senior government minister had also met with President Kumaratunga in his personal bid to find a solution to the crisis.
Published: Wed Jan 14 11:09:35 EST 2004 Back to the top

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Sri Lanka 's president reveals unannounced swearing-in that can extend her term
Associated Press, Tue January 13, 2004 10:35 EST . SHIMALI SENANAYAKE - Associated Press Writer - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) Further complicating Sri Lanka - 's political crisis, the president on Tuesday revealed an unannounced swearing-in ceremony that could allow her to stay in office until 2006.

Chandrika Kumaratunga took her oaths in December 1999 after winning an election for a second and final six-year term, which was to expire in 2005. But the president, whose actions cannot be challenged in a court of law, now says she held another ceremony the following year.

``It is up to me to take a decision whether I am to continue in the office of presidency till 2006 or not,'' Kumaratunga said in a Sinhala language interview with the state-owner Independent Television Network.

Kumaratunga's stunning revelation comes amid a bitter power struggle with her political rival Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, who had no immediate comment.

The president and prime minister have been deadlocked since Nov. 4 when Kumaratunga fired three Cabinet ministers after accusing Wickremesinghe of jeopardizing the country's security by giving too many concessions to the rebels.

Wickremesinghe runs the government's day-to-day affairs but Kumaratunga, who heads a different political party, controls the military and has the power to sack the government.

Kumaratunga said she was compelled to take oaths in 1999, days after escaping a Tamil Tiger rebel suicide bombing, to squash rumors that she was physically unfit to hold the office of presidency.

``I had to do it to calm down the people who had already taken to the streets in protest of my attack,'' she said.

Kumaratunga denied any secrecy in the 2000 swearing-in ceremony, but admitted it was administered in the presence of only the Chief Justice and her confidant Lakshman Kadirgamar. She argued there was no need to make it a public ceremony since it was done within the framework of the constitution.

``There are two plausible and legally justified interpretations that can support both arguments,'' said Rohan Edirisinha, a top constitutional expert.

He said by operation of law and constitutionally the president's term begins in 2000. Similarly, it can be argued that since Kumaratunga took oaths a year earlier, her office commenced from 1999.

The stalemate between Kumaratunga and Wickremesingh has stalled attempts to forge a lasting peace with the Tamil Tiger rebels and end a two-decade civil war that has killed more than 65,000 people. Norway brokered a cease-fire in February 2002.
Published: Tue Jan 13 15:11:20 EST 2004 Back to the top

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Chandrika's term extended secretly  - Dawn
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Sri Lankan gov't opposes extended presidential term
People's Daily, January 14, 2004. Sri Lankan government opposes the extended term of office for President Chandrika Kumaratunga, who was reelected in December 1999, for a second term, a government spokesman said on Wednesday... Back to the top

Norwegian ambassador meets Sri Lankan Tamil rebel leader, XINHUA
Associated Press, Wed January 14, 2004 13:28 EST . - - COLOMBO, Jan. 14 (Xinhua) -- Norway's ambassador to Sri Lanka - Hans Brattskar met political wing leader of the Tamil Tiger rebels Thamilchelvan Wednesday in the rebel-held north of the country, the pro-rebel TamilNet website said. Brattskar who arrived at the rebel-held town of Kilinochchi on Wednesday morning met Thamilchelvan, political wing leader of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) rebels, for an hour and both sides had wide ranging discussions including the political situation in the south of the country... Back to the top

Thirst for coffee grows in world's biggest tea exporter _ Sri Lanka
Associated Press, Wed January 14, 2004 16:59 EST . SHIMALI SENANAYAKE - Associated Press Writer - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) Sri Lanka - 's tea, considered among the world's best and still the country's top export earner, now has keen competition from frothy cappuccinos, milky lattes and dark espressos... Back to the top

Lanka's defence team arrives for discussion on defence ..., January 14, 2004. New Delhi, Jan 14 (UNI) A high-level Sri Lankan defence team, led by Defence Secretary Cyril Herath, which arrived here today on a three-day official visit, will hold discussions with the Indian authorities on broad issues for a bilateral defence agreement between the two countries... Back to the top

Indo-Lanka Defence Cooperation Agreement: A matter of routine, January 14th, 2004. The proposed India-Sri Lanka Defence Co-operation Agreement is being considered with some concern by the Tamil press and politicians... Back to the top

Sri Lankan judges visit prisons so fearful suspects can stay inside
Associated Press, Wed January 14, 2004 09:54 EST . KRISHAN FRANCIS - Associated Press Writer - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) Judges are holding hearings in Sri Lankan prisons so some detained suspects won't have to venture to court and face rivals who might be waiting outside to kill them an official said Wednesday... Back to the top

Sumathipala evades arrest, Chief Magistrate withdraws from case
Alladin Hussein in Colombo, January 13, 11.53 pm. Colombo Chief Magistrate T.B. Boyagoda who was expected to give a verdict on the issuing of a warrant to Sri Lanka Cricket and Telecom Chairman Thilanga Sumathipala, withdrew from the case and requested another judge to take up the matter today morning... Back to the top

Sri Lanka: Why don’t displaced persons go home?
Refugees International, January 14, 2004. A ceasefire in February 2002 halted Sri Lanka’s 19-year-long civil war, but little progress has been made in achieving a lasting peace agreement between the government and the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)... Back to the top

DMK-PMK-MDMK political lobby of LTTE: Subramanian Swamy, Jan 13 . Janata Party President Subramanian Swamy has said the DMK-PMK-MDMK Front in Tamil Nadu is an exclusive political lobby of the LTTE in India and should be isolated in the elections... Back to the top

Chandrika rules out early polls
Gulf News, january 14, 2004, 8:40 EST. President Chandrika Kumaratunga has ruled out dissolution of Parliament despite speculation that the President would call for fresh parliamentary elections... Back to the top

Air Arabia takes off to Colombo in Sri Lanka, January 14, 2004. Following the success of the first two months of operations, Air Arabia LLC, UAE's national airline and first low-cost airline of its kind in the Middle East & North Africa region, made its inaugural flight to Colombo in Sri Lanka– its first flight to the Indian Sub-Continent – with Air Arabia's officials and press accompanying the flight... Back to the top

Bryan Adams to sing for peace in Sri Lanka, January 14, 2004. COLOMBO - Canadian pop icon Bryan Adams is to stop over in Sri Lanka next month to give a concert in support of the island's peace drive during a world tour, organizers said... Back to the top

With love, from Lanka, January 14, 2004. Mumbai, January 13: LAST winter, ten artists and two writers undertook an informal voyage organised by the Guild Art Gallery... Back to the top

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