The Lanka Academic

 
MARCH 29, 2004 EST, USA
 
A NEWSPAPER PUBLISHED BY LACNET
 
VOL. 4, NO. 358

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2004 ELECTION LIVE COVERAGE LAcNet will be carrying 2004 election results live. As we successfully did in 2001, we will also predict the outcome of the election based on our analysis. See here for details.
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Election commissioner takes over Sri Lanka 's state media ahead of vote
Associated Press, Mon March 29, 2004 10:49 EST . SHIMALI SENANAYAKE - Associated Press Writer - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) Sri Lanka - 's independent election commissioner took control of state-run television and radio Monday in an unprecedented move, following allegations of media bias toward the president's party ahead of Friday's parliamentary elections.

Election Commissioner Dayananda Dissanayake put W.D.L. Perera, a retired civil servant, in charge of the state's broadcast media, according to a statement from the commissioner's office.

While legal, it was the first time in Sri Lankan history that the election commissioner had made such a move.

The announcement came amid an ongoing struggle for political prominence between President Chandrika Kumaratunga and her rival, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and just days before parliamentary elections that could help resolve that struggle.

In a November power grab, the president took control of the media ministry from the prime minister, and announced snap polls three months later.

Since then, Wickremesinghe's party has accused state media of giving favorable coverage to Kumaratunga.

While the commission did not specifically accuse state media of backing the president, the move was appeared aimed at ensuring less broadcast bias toward Kumaratunga.

``Letters will be sent out to the state media shortly drawing their attention to ensure unbiased reporting,'' Perera told The Associated Press from his office at the Election Secretariat. Perera has held several positions including assistant election commissioner.

The statement announced Perera will oversee state media until the conclusion of the election, but he said his term was likely ``to spill over for a few days until the results were out.''

Kumaratunga's party, meanwhile, has accused the premier of manipulating private stations.

Sri Lankan law bars the manipulation of state media for election propaganda.

``The media should take a very responsible role and we will be spell out the laws saying this,'' Perera said, adding that private stations will also be reminded of the laws.

Supporters of the prime minister have alleged that state media would be used to support Kumaratunga's Freedom Alliance in Friday's voting.

A day before the 1999 presidential election, state-run media televised a weeping Kumaratunga who had just survived a rebel assassination attempt in an apparent attempt to garner votes. Kumaratunga narrowly emerged victorious in an election that analysts had expected Wickremesinghe to win.

The independent Free Media Movement welcomed the commission's move.

Sunanda Deshapriya, spokesman for the movement, said 80 percent of air time on state media had been used in support of the president's party. ``There has been no diversity in their reportage,'' he said.

However, Harim Peiris, the chief of state television, condemned the takeover as ``quite regrettable.''

``This move came as a complete surprise. Not once has the commissioner been able to intimate a specific violation of his guidelines,'' Peiris said.

State media officials filed petitions with the Supreme Court challenging the guidelines, arguing they violate free speech. The court is set to take up the issue Tuesday.

Kumaratunga ordered the elections more than three years ahead of schedule amid her feud with Wickremesinghe, whom she accuses of being too soft on Tamil Tiger rebels.

A cease-fire in February 2002 between the government and the Tigers halted two decades of fighting, which had killed nearly 65,000 people. But a recent split in rebel ranks has raised the prospect of renewed violence.

More than 6,000 candidates from 24 political parties and 192 independent groups will be contesting the election, the highest number of candidates ever in this island nation. At stake are 225 seats, 196 of them elected directly and 29 chosen from party lists based on the party's percentage of the vote.
Published: Mon Mar 29 11:24:25 EST 2004

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Election related political propaganda ceases
Alladin Hussein in Colombo, March 29, 2004, 11.14 pm. All political propaganda broadcasted on the electronic media relating to the forthcoming General Election on April 2, ends at midnight today, 72 hours before the election day. ”Propaganda includes all paid advertisements of political parties and independent groups, political discussions, dialogues, announcements made by party leaders or spokesmen of politicians, political parties and all other programmes of political nature,” the Elections Secretariat said in a statement today.

Elections Commissioner Dayananda Dissanayake has also announced that all election related campaigning through the print media will be ceased from tomorrow midnight, 48 hours before the election. “Articles of political significance on the elections, including paid advertisements by political parties, candidates and independent groups, advertisements and interviews of a political nature by any institution should not be carried in any print media after tomorrow midnight, the statement added.
Published: Mon Mar 29 12:26:11 EST 2004 Back to the top


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Monks set to steal protest vote in Sri Lanka poll
reuters.com, 29 March. COLOMBO (Reuters) - Sri Lanka's Buddhist clergy looks set to win a key protest vote at Friday's election, tapping nationalist sentiment in the face of concessions to Tamil rebels and bolstered by a country fed up with mainstream politicians.Campaigning for the first time as a single political force, 280 monks are running for parliament on a platform to protect the majority Sinhalese -- who are predominantly Buddhist -- and to rid the country of corruption."Our purpose is to serve everyone, not only the Sinhala nation, all those ethnic groups who are living in the country, to make them happy," said candidate Omalpe Sobitha, surrounded by saffron-robed monks at one of Colombo's biggest temples.But the monks oppose an agreement forged at peace talks with the separatist Tamil Tiger rebels to pursue a federal model, and say the unity of the nation and a foremost place for Sinhalese must be preserved in any deal to end the 20-year civil war. More...
Published: Mon Mar 29 06:00:04 EST 2004 Back to the top

Renegade Tamil rebel leader says rival group infiltrating his territory
Associated Press, Mon March 29, 2004 01:24 EST . DILIP GANGULY - Associated Press Writer - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) A renegade Tamil Tiger commander on Monday accused the rebel movement's leadership of sending fighters to infiltrate his territory, boosting the danger of factional fighting... Back to the top

Hung parliament predicted in Lanka
brunei-online.com, March 29, 2004. COLOMBO (AFP) - Sri Lanka's third election in four years is likely to result in a hung parliament that could cause more political instability and undermine the already troubled peace bid, the Sunday Times reported... Back to the top

‘Who is your Prime Minister?” UNF asks UPFA
Alladin Hussein in Colombo, March 28, 2004, 11.42 pm. The United National Front (UNF) has called upon its main rival, the United Peoples Freedom Alliance (UPFA), to announce to the country who their potential Prime Minister candidate is... Back to the top

Security tightened in Colombo after shooting incidents
Alladin Hussein in Colombo, March 28, 2004, 11.39 pm. Security has been stepped up in Colombo and suburbs, following two shooting incidents at Wellawatte and Kotahena during the weekend, allegedly by the LTTE... Back to the top

Tillakaratne quits as Sri Lankan skipper after series loss to Australia
Associated Press, Sun March 28, 2004 10:17 EST . JOHN PYE - AP Sports Writer - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) Hashan Tillakaratne quit as Sri Lankan cricket captain Sunday, immediately after Australia beat his lineup in Colombo to become the first touring lineup to sweep a three-test series in Sri Lanka - ... Back to the top

Sri Lanka tightens security ahead of parliamentary election
Associated Press, Sun March 28, 2004 11:05 EST . KRISHAN FRANCIS - Associated Press Writer - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) Sri Lankan authorities have stepped up security in the capital and in the east following two shootings apparently connected to parliamentary elections scheduled for this week, the military said Sunday... Back to the top

Qatar interested in Lanka airport project
tradearabia.com, March 28, 2004. Qatar has shown a keen interest in participating in a project to develop and operate Sri Lanka's second international airport, said a visiting Lankan official... Back to the top

Warne snares four wickets; Australia sweeps series; Murali reported
Associated Press, Sun March 28, 2004 09:50 EST . JOHN PYE - AP Sports Writer - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) Shane Warne took four wickets but missed a world record Sunday as Australia won a tumultuous finale by 121 runs with eight balls to spare and became the first touring team to sweep a three-test cricket series in Sri Lanka - ... Back to the top

Cricket-Coach Dyson takes flak over Sri Lanka s poor showing
cricmania.com, 03-28-2004 . COLOMBO (AFP) - Sri Lanka's coach John Dyson came under severe criticism in the local media with calls to review his contract after the national team's dismal performance against Australia... Back to the top

SRI LANKA ’ S MURALITHARAN ON REPORT FOR SUSPECT BOWLING ACTION
sportsfeatures.com, 28th March 2004. SRI LANKA’S MURALITHARAN ON REPORT FOR SUSPECT BOWLING ACTION The ICC today confirmed that Sri Lanka spin bowler Muttiah Muralitharan has been reported for a suspected illegal bowling action following concern over his new delivery which spins away from the right-handed batsmen... Back to the top

In Sri Lankan elections, marginalized Tamils hope to finally vote again
Associated Press, Sat March 27, 2004 19:35 EST . DILIP GANGULY - Associated Press Writer - THIRIYAI, Sri Lanka - (AP) Just before dusk settles over this remote village, three Tamil farmers sit on a fallen mango tree and do something they haven't done in 20 years they talk about how they will vote Friday... Back to the top

Murali reported for suspect action
rediff.com, March 28, 2004 18:53 IST. Sri Lanka off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan was reported for a suspect bowling action on Sunday, Sri Lanka cricket Board officials said... Back to the top

Sri Lanka election may not produce clear winner
reuters.com, 28 March. COLOMBO (Reuters) - Sri Lanka votes this week for the third time in four years but a majority for either side is unlikely and a messy political feud that has stalled efforts to end war with Tamil rebels is set to continue... Back to the top

Sri Lanka on alert as election violence escalates
channelnewsasia.com, 28 March 2004 1527 hrs . COLOMBO: Sri Lanka's security forces have stepped up their guard after gunmen shot and wounded a top election official and a candidate amid fears of more violence ahead of April 2 elections... Back to the top

Sri Lankan police accused of torture
etaiwannews.com, 28 March. An Asian human rights group yesterday accused the Sri Lanka's police of the "gruesome" torture of suspects in custody, saying the island's law enforcement is nearing collapse due to a lack of discipline... Back to the top

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