The Lanka Academic

 
MARCH 31, 2006 EST, USA
 
QUAERE VERUM
 
VOL. 6, NO. 359

JAYANTHA DHANAPALA

Candidate for UN Secretary General from Sri Lanka.
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Headline Summary
F R E E      C L A S S I F I E D S
T  O  P      H  E  A  D  L  I  N  E
Sri Lankan president's governing coalition secures stunning victory in local polls
Associated Press, Fri March 31, 2006 08:13 EST . DILIP GANGULY - Associated Press Writer - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) Sri Lanka - 's ruling coalition won an overwhelming victory in local elections, according to results released by the government a win seen as an endorsement of the president's negotiations with Tamil Tiger rebels.

President Mahinda Rajapakse's United Peoples' Freedom Alliance won majorities in 212 out of 249 local councils where results were declared, the Government Information Department said Friday. The main opposition group won 29 seats, and minor parties won the other eight seats.

Remaining results for 17 councils were expected Saturday, the department said. Elections in the north and east where the Tigers operate have been postponed until Sept. 30 due to security concerns.

The Tamil Tigers began fighting in 1983 to create a separate state for ethnic minority Tamils, accusing the majority Sinhalese of discrimination. More than 65,000 people were killed before a 2002 cease-fire, now under threat due to rising violence.

Rajapakse says he wants to go ahead with the talks and come to a settlement. Others oppose concessions to the rebels.

``Sri Lankans have clearly endorsed his policies, especially his handling of the peace process,'' said Jehan Perera of the National Peace Council, an independent think tank.

Controlling the councils which deal with the day-to-day affairs of towns and clusters of villages will provide Rajapakse with a power base for future parliamentary and presidential elections.

Most of the councils were previously held by the United National Party, which is now the opposition.

Rajapakse heads a minority government in the federal Parliament. The present Parliament began in April 2004 for a term of up to six years, but the president can order new elections to try to secure a majority.

Over 10 million people were eligible to vote Thursday in the elections for 266 local councils. Turnout was about 50 percent, the information department said.

Recent violence has threatened the government-rebel truce brokered by Norway in February 2002.

More than 166 people, including 87 government security personnel, have been killed since December in violence blamed mostly on the rebels.

Both sides agreed in Geneva, Switzerland, last month to scale down violence and meet again for talks next month.

Rajapakse says he wants to go ahead with the talks and come to a settlement, but the Marxist allies in his coalition are opposed to any major concessions to the rebels. Discuss this story
Published: Fri Mar 31 09:43:43 EST 2006

Related News Stories
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Lanka polls: Rajapakse takes early lead  - NDTV
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Low voter turn out at Sri Lanka's local polls  - GulfNews
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Sri Lanka polls favor alliance  - cnn
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S.Lanka President stronger as party wins local vote  - alertnet.org
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Sri Lankan president's governing coalition heading for stunning victory in local polls  - Associated Press

Lanka seeks Pak military help
yahoo/HT, April 1. SRI LANKAN President Mahinda Rajapaksa's visit to Pakistan, beginning on Friday, has an important message for India, political observers here say.Informed sources say that one of the main aims of Rajapaksa's visit was to send a message to India: that if it did not help Sri Lanka militarily, the latter might approach Pakistan for help.

The power vacuum in Sri Lanka would be filled by Pakistan. "Will India want it?". That's is a question Sri Lankans ask. Sri Lanka's move is expected to set New Delhi wondering if it is doing the right thing by indefinitely postponing a decision on signing a Defence Cooperation Agreement with Sri Lanka, and not moving boldly on aiding the reconstruction and modernisation of the Palaly airport cum airbase in Jaffna. The 80-member delegation accompanying Rajapaksa has top representatives of the defence, finance and trade ministries. More... Discuss this story
Published: Fri Mar 31 21:56:10 EST 2006 Back to the top

Related News Stories
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Pakistan seeks defense, security co-op with Sri Lanka: PM  - xinhuanet.com

Sri Lankan president holds talks with Pakistan leader to discuss trade, defense ties
Associated Press, March 31, 2006 11:57 EST . MUNIR AHMAD - Associated Press Writer - ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) Sri Lanka - 's President Mahinda Rajapakse met with his Pakistani counterpart Friday for talks on cementing better ties in defense, trade and other areas, officials said. Pakistan and Sri Lanka - are members of the seven-nation South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, or SAARC. The two sides on Friday signed agreements on tourism, culture, railways and education, state-run Pakistan Television reported. It said Musharraf thanked Rajapakse for quickly sending relief teams to Pakistan after the Oct. 8 quake that killed about 80,000 people and left over three million homeless in northern Pakistan and its part of Kashmir. It also quoted Musharraf as saying that the SAARC members should resolve their bilateral disputes ``to pave the way for friction-free relationship.'' He apprised the Sri Lankan leader about the continuing peace process between Pakistan and neighboring India, and said he hoped that the resumption of peace talks between Sri Lanka - and Tamil Tiger rebels will help achieve peace and stability there. Although no other details about Rajapakse's meeting with Musharraf were immediately available, analysts have said the Sri Lankan leader could be looking to Pakistan to arm his country's ill-equipped military, which faces the threat of a resurgent separatist war with Tamil Tiger rebels. Lucian Rajakarunanayake, a director at the Sri Lankan president's media office, described Pakistan as a ``trusted friend of Sri Lanka - for decades.'' ``Pakistan has helped Sri Lanka - at a crucial moment with regard to the war of separation. Sri Lanka - would look forward to a continued assistance in the same manner,'' Rajakarunanayake told The Associated Press. Pakistan was among the countries that provided emergency military assistance to Sri Lanka - when the rebels came close to capturing Jaffna, in the Tamil heartland, in 2000. They were eventually beaten back by the Sri Lankan military, rearmed with Pakistani weapons. Pakistani diplomats based in Sri Lanka - 's capital, Colombo, said Islamabad was open to discussing a weapons deal. The Tamil Tigers began fighting in 1983 for a separate state for minority ethnic Tamils in Sri Lanka - 's northeast, claiming discrimination by the country's Sinhalese majority. The conflict took an estimated 65,000 lives until a cease-fire in 2002. The truce has come under severe strain due to spiraling violence. More than 166 people, including 87 government security personnel, have been killed since December. Both sides agreed in Geneva, Switzerland last month to scale down the violence and meet again for talks in April. Associated Press writer Dilip Ganguly in Colombo, Sri Lanka - , contributed to this report. Discuss this story
Published: Fri Mar 31 14:17:01 EST 2006 Back to the top

Sri Lanka plans for Muslim regiment cause worry
IANS/yahoo, April 1. New Delhi, April 1 (IANS) Sri Lanka's plan to recruit Muslims into a special regiment in its overwhelmingly Sinhalese army has earned bouquets and brickbats, with critics warning that it can further fuel ethnic tensions... Back to the top

Jayasuriya to play his final cricket test
Associated Press, March 31, 2006 13:06 EST . - - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) Sanath Jayasuriya will play his last cricket test match when he takes the field against Pakistan next week, after a glittering career spanning 15 years... Back to the top

New SLMM head assumes duties tomorrow
Munza Mushtaq in Colombo, March 31, 2006, 11.39 p.m.. Major General Ulf Henricsson, will assume his command as Head of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) tomorrow (April 1, 2006), the Mission announced today... Back to the top

Sri Lankan president arrives in Pakistan to discuss trade, defense ties
Associated Press, Fri March 31, 2006 03:02 EST . MUNIR AHMAD - Associated Press Writer - ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) Sri Lanka - 's President Mahinda Rajapakse arrived Friday for a three-day official visit to Pakistan, hoping to cement better trade and defense ties, officials said... Back to the top

Sri Lanka s economy expands by 5.9 % in 2005
lankabusinessonline.com, March 31. Sri Lanka's economy expanded by 5.9 percent in 2005, over 5.4 percent a year earlier, in the backdrop of high international oil prices and stiff competition for key exports like garments, the Central Bank said Friday... Back to the top

Sri Lankan elections to judge government's popularity, peace process' direction
Associated Press, Thu March 30, 2006 07:18 EST . BHARATHA MALLAWARACHI - Associated Press Writer - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) At least five people were hurt Thursday in assaults during local elections seen as a referendum on President Mahinda Rajapakse's governing coalition and its support of a peace process with Tamil rebels... Back to the top

Sri Lanka Elections May Affect Direction of Peace Process
voanews.com, 30 March 2006. Sri Lanka has held local government elections that are being widely seen as a referendum on President Mahinda Rajapakse's handling of a peace process with the Tamil Tiger rebels... Back to the top

India to advocate Sri Lanka 'consensus' to Ranil
kerala.com, March 31, 2006. By M.R. Narayan Swamy, New Delhi: India will urge Sri Lankan opposition leader Ranil Wickremesinghe to work for a 'southern consensus' to give a push to the island's peace process when he comes here Sunday to meet Indian leaders... Back to the top

Recruiters Of Child Soldiers Targeted For Prosecution
IPS, March 30. But the first break came only last week when the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague decided to arrest Thomas Lubanga, a founder and leader of the Union des Patriotes Congolais (UPC), on charges of conscripting children in the current insurgency against the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)... Back to the top

Tamil Tiger rebels, Sri Lanka navy exchange gunfire; no known casualties
Associated Press, Thu March 30, 2006 02:52 EST . DILIP GANGULY - Associated Press Writer - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) Tamil Tiger rebels in a boat fired at a Sri Lankan navy post in the port town of Trincomalee on Thursday but retreated when the navy retaliated with gunfire, a navy spokesman said... Back to the top

Rebels seek safe passage guarantee
GulfNews, March 31, 2006. Colombo: Tamil rebels yesterday demanded guarantees of safe passage through the Bandaranaike international airport to attend the second round of talks in Geneva... Back to the top

Sri Lanka president likely to seek defense help in Pakistan+
Associated Press, Thu March 30, 2006 00:42 EST . COLOMBO, March 30 (Kyodo) _ Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse's three-day state visit to Pakistan beginning Friday is intended to beef up defense relations between the two countries, diplomats and analysts believe... Back to the top

Sri Lanka rights body facing collapse, watchdog warns
lankabusinessonline.com, 30 March 2006 . Mar.30 (AFP) - Sri Lanka's independent human rights watchdog may collapse as the government has failed to replace the outgoing panel of commissioners, the Asian Human Rights Commission said Thursday... Back to the top

Sri Lanka s state banks asked to issue more plastic cards to ...
lankabusinessonline.com, 30 March 2006. Sri Lanka's treasury secretary P B Jayasundara has asked the two state banks to step up credit card sales to public servants, following hefty salary increments this year... Back to the top

Sri Lankan woman released after years in U.S. detention center
Associated Press, Wed March 29, 2006 14:42 EST . - - Nadarajah and Thangaraja both fled Sri Lanka - and stopped at the U... Back to the top

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