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Bloody rumpus at Jaffna Central College blamed by CMEV on lack of understanding of counting process

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

Political party leaders must educate their candidates and their supporters on how the counting process works, National Coordinator of the Center for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV,) Manjula Gajanayake told The Island yesterday commenting on unrest at the Jaffna Central College on Thursday night between supporters of ITAK candidates Mavai Senathirajah and Sasikala Raviraj.

Supporters of Raviraj accused Senathirajah and Jaffna District MP elect M. A. Sumanthiran of rigging the preferential votes and depriving her of a seat in parliament.

“From midday our observers had noted that a large number of supporters were gathering at the counting centre. Later there was a delay in issuing preferential vote count and when the results were announced, Raviraj had not won. However, Raviraj thought she had come in second and that was also what her supporters expected. Then there were social media posts by Raviraj’s daughter and other supporters that something fishy was going on and her supporters were angry.”

At that point Sumanthiran arrived with his security and supporters of Raviraj expressed their displeasure at his presence and supporters of various candidates clashed, according to Gajanayake. The police and STF officers had come in unarmed. They had left their weapons inside their vehicles because they didn’t want to make matters worse and it became hard to control the situation.

“Finally, the Police and STF officers had to use force to disperse the clashing rival supporters and some people sustained injuries. Sons of both Senathirajah and Raviraj were among those who sustained injuries.”

Gajanayake said that the incident was due lack of understanding of the counting process among candidates and their supporters. Their ignorance and social media were a dangerous combination, the CMEV National Coordinator said.

“The counting process is documented throughout. Our monitors at the counting centre checked the documents and things seemed to be in order. It is very difficult to say that a person has got enough preferential votes to get in, until the very end of the counting process. The ITAK is an alliance of many parties and there are lots of internal issues and this also contributed to the incident.”

Gajanayake added that Raviraj could move courts if she was convinced that she had been wrongfully denied a seat in parliament.

Yesterday morning, Raviraj’s daughter, Praviinaa Raviraj on Facebook blamed Sumanthiran and TNA leader R. Sampanthan for having deprived her mother a seat in parliament. She also blamed Sumanthiran for mobilizing the STF to assault her supporters.

“We aren’t sour losers, but can one win and then lose? To all those in Colombo and away congratulating us and are unaware of the turnaround that happened last night. The final verdict brought my mum down from 2nd to 4th within TNA Jaffna and Kilinochchi District. Personally, I felt the results were delayed to wait for Sumanthiran. And turmoil was created to hide the rigged voting that had happened in two counting booths. Sumanthiran’s STF attacked peaceful protesters with stones and etc.

“So I want to “thank” Sumanthiran and his STF for attacking, wounding not just friends and family but also supporters of other competing parties. I want to “thank” TNA for letting a snake grow in their own garden.”

 Sasikala is the widow of assassinated TNA parliamentarian Nadaraja Raviraj. He was gunned down in Colombo with his police bodyguard in 2006.

 



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Appointment of GM led to CEB chief’s resignation?

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By Ifham Nizam

Amidst further deterioration of the power crisis, the Chairman of the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) M.M.C. Ferdinando has tendered his resignation to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

In a letter to the President, the Attorney-at-Law said that he is quitting due to personal reasons. Ferdinando will resign as Chairman/Member of the Electricity Board with effect from Feb. 1.

Sources close to Ferdinando said that the incumbent CEB Chairman did not want to be in that position following the appointment of Eng. Dr. D.C.R. Abeysekera as CEB General Manager. Abeysekera received his letter of appointment from Ferdinando on Tuesday (25).

Abeysekera received the appointment at the expense of Dr. Susantha Perera, whose designation as the GM on a temporary basis was resisted by the engineers’ union as he is a retiree.

Retired public servant Ferdinando was brought in as the CEB Chairman on July 19, last year soon after Sri Lanka entered into what was called a framework agreement with the US energy firm, New Fortress Energy. The agreement now challenged in the Supreme Court was finalised on 17 Sept, last year with Ferdinando endorsing it as an Advisor to the Finance Ministry.

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UK indicates sanctions against Lanka military

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By Shamindra Ferdinnado

Close on the heels of UK Foreign Minister Lord Tariq Ahmad’s three-day visit here, the House of Commons has been told that measures were being contemplated as regards the Sri Lankan military.

Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) Minister Amanda Milling has told Parliament that the government regularly engaged with the US and other partners on issues relating to Sri Lanka. She has further said: “The UK government keeps all evidence and potential designations under the UK Global Human Rights sanctions regime under close review, guided by the objectives of the sanctions regime. We would not normally speculate about future sanctions targets, as to do so could reduce their impact.”

The Conservative Party member was responding to Labour Party’s Siobhain McDonagh on Tuesday (25). MP Milling was responding to a query McDonagh posed to the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs Elizabeth Truss, what assessment she has made of the implications for her policies of the sanctions imposed by the US on General Shavendra Silva of the Sri Lankan army.

The US in Feb 2020 imposed a travel ban on General Silva, who is also the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS). Recently, the US extended its action against the Sri Lankan military by issuing travel ban on retired Maj. Gen. Udaya Perera.

The UK based Global Tamil Forum (GTF) has commended the British stand.

Concerned Lankan military sources said that the UK in its capacity as the leader of Sri Lanka Core Group at the Geneva-based Human Rights Council (UNHRC) was planning further measures ahead of the next human rights sessions.

UK based sources told The Island that that type of written parliamentary question was usually answered by a government minister from the FCDO.

Sources explained as this particular question dealt with Sri Lanka, the minister responsible was Lord Tariq Ahmad, but as he represented the House of Lords he couldn’t make statements in the Commons chamber.

Sources added that it would be rare that a question on Sri Lanka would be directly responded to by the Foreign Secretary Truss

Commons member Amanda Milling is Minister of State for Asia, therefore her portfolio closely matches Tariq Ahmad’s brief.

Incidentally, the FCDO now has a British Tamil in a senior position. Maya Sivagnanam is South Asia Deputy Director for the Indian Ocean Region at the FCDO.

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JCPSM token strike cripples hospitals in Western Province

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Strikers want Health Ministry to solve their problems within 10 days

By Rathindra Kuruwita

The Joint Council of Professions Supplementary to Medicine (JCPSM) launched a 24-hour token strike yesterday (26) at 7 am at all hospitals in the Western Province. It consists of 16 unions.

The JCPSM has urged the government to address its members’s grievances including salary anomalies and issues related promotions. The strike had crippled hospitals in the province, Health Ministry sources said.

The JCPSM said emergency care, essential services and the treatment of COVID patients had not been affected by the strike.

President of the Government Nurses’ Association and former UNP National List MP Saman Rathnapriya said they had been urging the government to solve their problems for the past two months.

The College of Medical Laboratory Science (CMLS) President, Ravi Kumudesh told The Island that they would end the token strike by 7 am today m(27) and thereafter give the government 10 days to address their demands.

“We will launch a continuous strike if the demands are not met within 10 days,” he said.

President of the Government Medical Officers’ Forum (GMOF) Dr. Rukshan Bellana said that most unions seemed to have lost the ability to solve disputes through negotiations.

“The unions have become too politicised, and the people are suffering as a result.”

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