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Rajapaksa calls snap election amid fading popularity

(NIDAHASA News) President Mahinda Rajapaksa today (20) confirmed that he will go for an early election to secure a third presidential term, amid signs of a drop in popularity.

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(NIDAHASA News) President Mahinda Rajapaksa today (20) confirmed that he will go for an early election to secure a third presidential term, amid signs of a drop in popularity.

Rajapaksa sent his proclamation to the election commissioner declaring his intention to hold a presidential election, president's office said.

The much-anticipated election is likely to take place on January, but the election commissioner is yet to announce official dates. Pro-government astrologers have previously said that the first week of January would be the most auspicious for the President.

Minister Keheliya Rambukwella also had confirmed earlier that the election would be held in early in January. Incumbent president has already completed around 40% of his election campaign, Rambukwella said.

Rajapaksa signed the proclamation declaring his intention to hold a Presidential Election (Photo: Daily Mirror)

Opposition groups were planning to field a common opposition candidate since months, but did not name their candidate up to the date, probable a tactical strategy to confuse ruling party, which is already using state resources heavily to promote Rajapksa and discredit possible opposition candidates.

Rajapaksa, who celebrated his 69th birthday on Tuesday (18) and his government, dominated by members of his family, is accused of heavy corruption and human right abuses.

Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU), a Sinhala-Buddhist nationalist party in Rajapaksa's ruling coalition has withdrawn their support to the government on Tuesday to protest president's failure to carry out constitutional reformations proposed by their party.

JHU minister Champika Ranawaka who stepped down yesterday was facing corruption charges ever since the party signaled their departure from Rajapaksa's alliance. Temple of JHU parliamentarian Athuraliya Rathana, a front figure of constitution reformation campaign, has attacked allegedly by pro government thugs today.

Some opposition groups including a former Chief Justice has questioned Rajapaksa's ability to run for a third term citing a technical error in 18th constitutional amendment, which he had in fact brought for the very purpose of removing two-term limitation for his presidency. However, Supreme Court, which opposition accused of being a puppet of Rajapaksa, cleared incumbent to run for a third term.

President Rajapaksa, who came to power in 2005 after a tight race with opposition leader Ranil Wickramasinghe, gained a huge popularity, especially among majority Sinhalese, after defeating Tamil separatist rebels in 2008. Although ruling party have secured landslide victories in almost all elections since then, the popularity of government is visibly fading, especially after the Uva provincial council election, where opposition arguably revived their strength.

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Political

Sri Lanka should accept democratic values; ex-president says

(NIDAHASA News) Sri Lanka's ex president Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga says that the government and people should uphold democratic values in order to protect the country from international interference.

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(NIDAHASA News) Sri Lanka's ex president Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga says that the government and people should uphold democratic values in order to protect the country from international interference.

“If Sri Lanka wants to save itself in Geneva, the Sri Lankan Government and its people have to conduct themselves in accordance with universally accepted democratic norms and standards. They will save themselves automatically if they do this. That is how we can help them,” Kumaratunga told media soon after her meeting with Leader of Opposition Ranil Wikramasinghe at his office yesterday (11).

The focus of discussion was on her recent initiative on religious harmony in the country. However, no political matters were discussed in the meeting with Opposition Leader, Kumaratunga said.

In recent months, Chandrika was working with South Asian Policy & Research Institute (SAPRI) to promote religious harmony. SAPRI is a non-government think tank where religious leaders and intellectuals came together to work on recommendations for achieving religious harmony in Sri Lanka.

Kumaratunga said she has also sought a similar meeting with President Mahinda Rajapakse but was to receive a response.

“I am grateful to the UNP (United National Party) leader for giving us time for the discussion. We have received responses from some government ministers who are willing to meet us. We will later brief the public on the importance of interfaith coexistence and how this will help the country,” she said.

She noted that it was important that the issue of attacks of religious minorities figured in a draft resolution on Sri Lanka presented to the UN Human Rights Council currently meeting in Geneva.

“It is important, yes…because whether it is the U.S. or any [other] country is not important. What is important is that it has been presented to the United Nations organisations and its relevant authorities.” she said.

Meanwhile Opposition leader Ranil Wickremesinghe said his party would support Kumaratunga and SAPRI in its efforts to create unity among all religions in Sri Lanka.

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Political

National unity govt sworn in; opposition leader from TNA

(NIDAHASA News) Sri Lanka's new cabinet sworn in today (04), forming the first ever national unity government in country's 67 year old parliamentary history. Tamil National Alliance (TNA) became the main opposition party, making an ethnic Tamil the opposition leader after 32 years.

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(NIDAHASA News) Sri Lanka's new cabinet sworn in today (04), forming the first ever national unity government in country's 67 year old parliamentary history. Tamil National Alliance (TNA) became the main opposition party, making an ethnic Tamil the opposition leader after 32 years.

The new government led by Prime minister Ranil Wickramesinghe includes ministers from both main political parties. 43 ministers today took oath before the president; few more to sworn in in coming days.

Following the parileament election, leader of United Peoples Freedom Alliance (UPFA) President Maithripala Sirisena and United National Party (UNP) leader and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe came to an agreement to govern together for at least two years. Their aim will be to face together war crimes allegations originating from the decades-long civil war that ended six years ago and to secure enough votes in Parliament to adopt a new constitution with political reforms and power sharing with ethnic minority Tamils.

As two main parties form the government together, TNA, the third-largest force with 16 seats in the 225-member assembly becomes the main opposition party.

R. Sampanthan is the first parliamentarian from the ethnic minority to lead the opposition since 1983, when Tamil legislators resigned en masse to protest against a statute that compelled them to denounce separatism.

A small breakaway faction of UPFA which still remain loyal to former president, MP Mahinda Rajapaka chosen to remain in opposition. They opposed Sampanthan’s appointment, arguing they should lead the opposition. However Speaker Karu Jayasuriya dismissed their claim, as he did not receive such request from UPFA leadership.

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Political

UNP wins election; Voters say no to Rajapaksa's comeback bid

(NIDAHASA News) Ranil Wickremesinghe's United National Party (UNP) secured majority in yesterday's (17) parliament poll, ending former President Rajapaksa's comeback dream.

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(NIDAHASA News) Ranil Wickremesinghe's United National Party (UNP) secured majority in yesterday's (17) parliament poll, ending former President Rajapaksa's comeback dream.

“A majority has mandated to continue the Jan. 8 revolution,” Ranil Wickremesinghe said in an statement, a referring to the presidential election earlier this year that ended Rajapaksa's decade-long regime.

UNP secured 106 out of 225 seats in the parliament; Rajapaksa's United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA) got 95 seats while left-wing People's Liberation Front (JVP) securing 6. Tamil National Alliance (TNA) alias ITAK got 16 seats.

However UNP will have to seek support from other parties to form a majority government with 113 seats in hand.

The first election to hold after fall of Rajapaksa regime, which was accused of heavily abusing their power, this was seen as the most peaceful election in recent history.

Mahinda Rajapaksa, who lost January's snap presidential poll to once his minister Mathiripala Sirisena, was hoping to comeback as the Prime Minister. Sirisena was force to grand nominations to former president due to the pressure inside the party, but openly stated his disgust over Rajapaksa's return.

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