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CBK: ‘I am SLFP Chairperson’

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Former President Kumaratunga and her sister Sunethra arriving at the statue of their late father and SLFP founder, S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike, yesterday

 ‘Sirisena holding the post unlawfully’

By Sujeewa Thathsara

Former President Maithripala Sirisena is holding on to the post of SLFP Chairman unlawfully, party’s Mentor, former president Chandrika Bandaranaike yesterday said after offering flowers to the statue of the SLFP founder and her late father, S. W. R. D Bandaranaike, before the official event to mark his 122 birth anniversary.

Kumaratunga said that she was still the SLFP Chairman and that due to the actions of Sirisena the SLFP had gone astray. She said that she had not left the SLFP and that she was aware Sirisena had instructed party officials not to invite her to any of the events organized by the SLFP.

“Sirisena has sold the SLFP to the SLPP. I will never leave the SLFP. I know some people are counting the days until I do. But they are mistaken.”

 

The former President said that a year back, she had told Sirisena that the SLFP should be strengthened.’She said: “Instead of working to strengthen the party, Sirisena is trying to sideline me. I wasn’t even invited to this event. But I came anyway because I care.”

A journalis: “Have you joined the UNP”?

Kumaratunga: “I haven’t. It is Sirisena went to the UNP headquarters five times. He went there and said he wanted to address Ranil Wickremesinghe as ‘Sir.’ I have never gone to the UNP HQ.”

Former President Sirisena also spoke to the media after offering flowers to the S.W.R.D Bandaranaike statue.

There was an argument between two groups of the SLFP after a Colombo District SLFP MP and his supporters removed the two bouquets of flowers laid by Chandrika and her sister Sunethra. Another group said it was not ethical to remove the flowers placed by the daughters of S.W.R.D Bandaranaike. Later, the two garlands were allowed to remain there, and Sirisena and the SLFP stalwarts paid a floral tribute to the statue.

A Journalist: “Former President Chandrika Bandaranaike arrived before the commencement of the official event and offered flowers. Why is that? Wasn’t she invited?”

Sirisena: “She has come before the event. I am thankful that she came.”

A Journalist: “She said you are holding to the post of SLFP Chairman unlawfully and that she would not accept your leadership?”

Sirisena: “She said? But there is no dispute among us. We all work together.”

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Covid-19 vaccination programme: MPs not in priority group; President, armed forces chiefs in ‘third category’ 

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By Shamindra Ferdinando

State Minister for Primary Health Care, Epidemics and COVID Disease Control, Dr. Sudarshini Fernandopulle yesterday (25) said that members of Parliament were not among those categorised as priority groups expected to be vaccinated against the Covid-19 pandemic.

Dr. Fernandopulle said so in response to The Island query whether parliamentarians would receive the vaccine scheduled to be delivered by India this week. Asked to explain, Dr. Fernandopulle said that health workers, armed forces and law enforcement personnel engaged in Covid-19 prevention operations would be given priority.

“Lawmakers haven’t been listed under priority groups. However, some members may get the vaccine if they are accommodated in the over 60 years category and those suffering from diabetes, heart disease, cancer et al,” the State minister said.

In addition to State Minister Dayasiri Jayasekera, several lawmakers, representing both the government and the Opposition had been afflicted over the past several weeks. SLPP lawmaker Wasantha Yapa Bandara (Kandy district) is the latest victim. Health minister Pavitradevi Wanniarachchi was among over half a dozen lawmakers tested positive.

Army Commander General Shavendra Silva told Derana yesterday morning Sri Lanka would receive approximately 500,000 to 600,000 doses from India. Responding to a spate of questions from Derana anchor Sanka Amarjith, Gen. Silva explained the measures taken by the government to ensure a smooth vaccination programme. The Army Chief who also functions as the Chief of Defence Staff revealed India had paid for the consignment obtained from the UK.

Later in the day, The Island sought an explanation from the Army Chief regarding the President, Service Commanders, Secretary Defence given the vaccination along with frontline health workers et al, the celebrated battlefield commander said: “Will be in third priority group.”

Asked whether the student population would be accommodated at an early stage of the vaccination programme, Dr. Fernandopulle said that those under 18 years of age, pregnant and lactating mothers wouldn’t be included at all as such groups hadn’t been subjected to trials. Education Secretary Prof. Kapila Perera wasn’t available for comment.

Dr. Fernandopulle emphasized the pivotal importance of following health guidelines strictly in spite of the launch of the vaccination programme. “We shouldn’t lower our guard under any circumstances,” Dr. Fernandopulle said, urging the population to be mindful of those unable to receive the vaccination due to no fault of theirs. As those under 18 years of age had been left out of the vaccination programme, a substantial section of the population would be denied the protection, the State Minister said.

Sri Lanka is also expected to procure vaccines from China and Russia in addition to the doses from India. Health Secretary Maj. Gen. Sanjeewa Munasinghe wasn’t available for comment.

Sri Lanka launches the vaccination programme with the total number of positive cases nearing 60,000 with nearly 50,000 recoveries. The government recently re-opened the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) following a pilot programme that brought over 1,200 Ukrainians in dozen flights through the Mattala International Airport.

Dr. Fernandopulle said that the government was ready to launch the vaccination programme as soon as the first consignment arrived from India.

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Tennis balls filled with drugs thrown into Kandakadu Covid-19 treatment centre

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By Norman Palihawadane

Two tennis balls filled with drugs had been thrown into the Covid-19 treatment centre at Kandakadu, Police Spokesperson DIG Ajith Rohana said.

The contraband was found on Saturday by the Army officers attached to the facility.

DIG Rohana said the two tennis balls containing cannabis, heroin and tobacco, had been handed over to the Welikanda Police.

A special investigation has been launched into the incident, the Police Spokesperson said. Such incidents had been previously reported from Welikada, Negombo and other prisons, but it was the first time contraband containing narcotics had been thrown into a Covid-19 treatment centre, he added.

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All cargo clearances at Colombo port now through electronic payments

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The Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) has introduced a system where payment for imports could be made via the Internet. This allows port users to make payments from their homes or offices to clear goods from the Port of Colombo.

The SLPA has said in a media statement that the new special facility will enable port users to make their port payments easily without hassle.

At present, all terminals of the Port of Colombo are run according to a strategic crisis management plan.

 

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