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2020 General Election – SLPP confident of securing majority

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By Shamindra Ferdinando

The SLPP was preparing to form the next government, party sources said, adding that a two-thirds majority was difficult to achieve. The SLPP sought a two-thirds majority to amend or do away with the 19th Amendment to the Constitution enacted in 2015.

 Political parties had secured working majorities in Parliament only twice since the introduction of the Proportional Representation (PR) system in 1989, sources said.

 President Ranasinghe Premadasa secured a simple majority at the 1989 poll and the UPFA led by President Mahinda Rajapaksa obtained 144 seats at the 2010 general election.

 SLPP strategist Basil Rajapaksa has said in a newspaper interview that if his party couldn’t obtain a two-thirds majority, talks will be held with other parties.

Countrywide counting of ballot papers is scheduled to commence at 7 am today (6).

 Of the 225 parliament members, 29 are appointed through the National List.

 Political sources were of the opinion that the SJB would emerge as the main Opposition at the expense of the UNP. The last parliament was represented by 106 UNP lawmakers.

Two of the SLPP constituents, the National Freedom Front (NFF) and the Pivithuru Hela Urumaya (PHU) in the run-up to August 5 poll declared that they wouldn’t be part of the government in case an agreement was sought with extremist elements to secure a two-thirds majority.

A civil society grouping that campaigned against the SLPP effort to do away with the 19th Amendment yesterday told The Island that the new government’s conduct would largely depend on the margin of victory at the August 5 poll. Spokesperson Gamini Viyangoda said that in case the SLPP managed to secure as many as 130 seats, it would aggressively push for crossovers. However, the situation would be different if it obtained 30 seats short of a two-thirds majority, Viyangoda said.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, in terms of the powers vested in him by the Constitution and the Parliamentary Election Act, has summoned the new parliament on August 20.

In terms of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, President Rajapaksa has to restrict the number of Cabinet ministers to 30 unless a consensus could be reached with political party/parties on the formation of a National Government.

The 19th Amendment also deprives the President of an opportunity to hold any ministerial portfolio. President Rajapaksa refrained from appointing defence minister in the interim government following the last presidential poll.

 



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Six nabbed with over 100 kg of ‘Ice’

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By Norman Palihawadane and Ifham Nizam

The Police Narcotics Bureau (PNB) yesterday arrested six suspects in the Sapugaskanda Rathgahawatta area with more than 100 kilos of Crystal Methamphetamine also known as Ice.

Police Media Spokesman, Deputy Inspector General of Police, Ajith Rohana told the media that the PNB sleuths, acting on information elicited from a suspect in custody had found 91 packets of Ice.

A man in possession of 100 kilos of heroin was arrested in Modera during the weekend and revealed that a haul of Ice had been packed in plastic boxes.

The PNB seized more than 114 kilos of Ice from the possession of a single drug network.

According to the information elicited from the suspects, more than 100 kilos of Ice were found.

The PNB also arrested six persons including two women with 13 kilos of Ice, during an operation carried out in the Niwandama area in Ja-Ela on Sunday.

DIG Rohana said the ice had been packed in small plastic boxes and hidden in two school bags.

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PM intervenes to iron out differences among coalition partners

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By Norman Palihawadane

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday said that he was confident that differences among the constituents of the SLPP coalition as regards the May Day celebrations and the next Provincial Council elections could be ironed out soon.

Leaders of all SLPP allied parties have been invited to a special meeting to be held at Temple Trees with the PM presiding on April 19.

Prime Minister Rajapaksa said it was natural for members of a political alliance to have their own standpoints and views on matters of national importance. “This is due to the different political ideologies and identities. It is not something new when it comes to political alliances world over. In a way, it shows that there is internal democracy within our alliance.

The PM said: “As a result of that the allied parties may express their own views on issues, but that does not mean there is a threat to the unity of the alliance. An alliance is more vibrant and stronger not when all the parties think on the same lines but when the member parties have different ideologies.”

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Thilo Hoffman remembered

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A copy of the book “Politics of a Rainforest: Battles to save Sinharaja” was handed over to Dominik Furgler, the Swiss Ambassador in Sri Lanka by the author of the book, Dr. Prasanna Cooray at the Swiss Embassy in Colombo last Tuesday, to be sent to the family of the late Thilo Hoffman in Switzerland.

Hoffman, a Swiss national, who made Sri Lanka his second home for six decades, was a pioneering environmental activist who led the battles to save Sinharaja from the front in the early 1970s, abreast with the likes of Iranganie Serasinghe, Kamanie Vitharana, Lynn De Alwis and Nihal Fernando of the “Ruk Rekaganno” fame. That was the era when the trees of Sinharaja were felled for the production of plywood by the then government. Hoffman was also a livewire of the Wildlife and Nature Protection Society (WNPS) for a long time. Hoffman died in 2014 at the age of 92.

The book includes a chapter on Thilo Hoffman.

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