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More challanges ahead for Sri Lanka's new president

(NIDAHASA News) Pope Francis, ending his Sri Lanka visit on Thursday (15), said it would not be easy to overcome the “bitter legacy” of injustice and hostilities in the island nation. In fact, for the newly elected President who promised a “compassionate rule” with justice and harmony restored, the task seems to be more challenging than winning the election, beating Rajapaksa in a highly unfair race.

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(NIDAHASA News) Pope Francis, ending his Sri Lanka visit on Thursday (15), said it would not be easy to overcome the “bitter legacy” of injustice and hostilities in the island nation. In fact, for the newly elected President who promised a “compassionate rule” with justice and harmony restored, the task seems to be more challenging than winning the election, beating Rajapaksa in a highly unfair race.

“The process of healing also needs to include the pursuit of truth, not for the sake of opening old wounds, but rather as a necessary means of promoting justice, healing and unity,” said Francis, first pope to visit Sri Lanka since the end of three-decade-long Tamil ethnic conflict in 2009. President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who was accused of serious war crimes during the last phrase of war, has been ousted in the election held days before papal visit. Although new President Maithirpala Sirisena did not make any major promise to address ethnic issues, most minority groups supported him in the election to overthrow Rajapaksa regime that ran the country with fear and corruptions. However some critics already feared that new government's “too much of compassion” would allow corrupts and criminals to escape.

Ranjan Ramanayaka, a parliamentarian of new Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe's United National Party (UNP) called his heads to seize passports of those who accused of heavy corruptions, citing number of ministers, including president's brother Basil, who left the country soon after the election loss.

Former president, who refused to give up and was carrying out racist campaigns against new president, finally agreed to handover party leadership to Sirisena, resolving major doubts about new government's ability to secure a steady majority in parliament. But Rajapaksa did not announce any intention to retire from politics and with his still-intact popularity among majority Sinhala people, he still stands a good chance to jeopardize government's hundred-day reformation program if he wants. If carried out according to the plan, promised anti-corrupt measures could be fatal for incumbent's family and friends.

Meanwhile China, a close ally of Rajapaksa's government, is visible unhappy about loss of the regime. China was the main funder of Rajapaksa's massive development projects, which opposition claims highly corrupted. With increasing dependency of Rajapaksa, who was mostly unpopular in the western world, China was arguably hoping to strength its military capacity in Indian Ocean.

South China Morning Post, a Honk Kong based newspaper known to be a mouthpiece of mainland government, warned Sri Lanka's new President in its editorial, asking not to “bite the hand that feeds.”

Opposition highlights the lack of accountability of projects funded by Chinese commercials loans while most of them, upon completion, tuned out to be white elephants. New government vowed to reassess Colombo Fort City project, which would give China the control of huge landmass in the planned artificial island.

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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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