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Common opposition pledges to end Rajapaksa's “mega corruptions”

(NIDAHASA News) Common Opposition presidential candidate Mathiripala Sirisena launched his election manifesto yesterday (19) with pledges to reform the country's highly corrupted political system.

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(NIDAHASA News) Common Opposition presidential candidate Mathiripala Sirisena launched his election manifesto yesterday (19) with pledges to reform the country's highly corrupted political system.

Sirisena promised to abolish execative presidential system in accordance with his agreement with main opposition United National Party (UNP) and several other groups.

“New Constitutional structure would be essentially an Executive allied with the Parliament through the Cabinet.”

“The existing electoral system is a main spring encouraging corruption and violence. Candidates have to spend a colossal sum of money due to the preferential system. I will change this completely,” Sirisena said in the manifesto.

Opposition says that government tried to sabotage yesterdays launching ceremony by revoking location permission at the last minute. The power supply of the area was also interrupted during the ceremony.

Apart from constitutional reformations to abolish executive presidency and change widely detested election system, the policy statement also consists of various populist promises, probably with an eye on rural Sinhala Buddhist majority, like revoking casino license given to Australia's Crown Resorts Ltd and some local business giants.

Sirisena said he will cancel the licenses issued to Australian gambling tycoon James Packer and Sri Lanka's most valuable listed company John Keells Holdings to build mixed-use resorts including casinos in capital Colombo.

President Rajapaksa's decision to pass these projects in 2013 caused a huge controversy in the country as well as within his own government. Anti-casino lobby mainly consists of Sinhala Buddhist groups including prominent monks, claim Casinos will lead to a boom in prostitution and damage traditional values.

In his manifesto Sirisena also plans to tighten restrictions on tobacco products he introduced earlier as President Rajapaksa's Health Minister.

The former Minister also promised to stop what he called “mega corruptions” and wastage in Rajapaksa's gigantic development projects.

“I would achieve for the country ten times the development that actually occurred during the past six years only by preventing mega corruption that existed in the country,” he said.

Sirisena's ministerial colleague, now a patron for his presidential run, Champika Ranawaka recently revealed massive corruptions in recent highway, harbor and airport construction projects. Some of these projects, according to Ranawaka, are priced over ten times of their benchmark prices.

Sirisena stepped down as Health minister just few hours after President announced the snap election seeking for an unprecedented third presidential term. The surprise moves of former General Secretary of Rajapaksa's Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) came as opposition parties were struggling to find a candidate to defeat powerful Rajapaksa. Many Internet based surveys have already predicted a clear victory for Sirisena, but Rajapaksa still remains popular in rural areas dominated by Sinhala Buddhist Majority.

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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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