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Devananda says North granted land powers



… calls move a big boost for post-war national reconciliation

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Fisheries Minister Douglas Devananda on Wednesday (17) claimed that the Northern Province had been granted land powers in terms of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.

The NP consists of administrative districts of Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Mullaitivu, Mannar and Vavuniya.

Devananda said that in spite of the absence of consensus among SLPP constituents as regards devolution of power, the government was committed to the Provincial Council system.

The NP Land Commissioner had received powers enjoyed by his counterparts serving in other provinces, Minister Devananda said emphasizing that the latest development proved the post-war reconciliation process was a success. The Tamil public would positively respond to the government stand. The NP Land Commissioner was now authorized to issue an entire range of permits pertaining to land matters, he said.

Devananda, who is the General Secretary of the Jaffna-based Eelam People’s Democratic Party (EPDP) pointed out that the likes of Public Security Minister retired Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera publicly opposed the devolution of power.

Pointing out that in terms of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution empowered the Provincial Council, Jaffna District lawmaker Devananda emphasized that the aspirations of the Tamil community could be met only through full devolution of powers.

Having introduced the Provincial Council system in the wake of the Indo-Lanka accord in 1987, successive governments implemented the 13th Amendment sans land and police powers.

Assuring the government’s commitment to the Provincial Council system, Minister Devananda said that he had repeatedly told the cabinet of ministers the need for maximum devolution of powers.

For want of a consensus as regards the electoral system among political parties represented in parliament during the previous administration the Provincial Council polls couldn’t be held.

Although Nimal Punchihewa, the new Chairman of the Election Commission recently declared that a simple amendment could be moved in parliament to pave the way for Provincial Council polls, the SLPP seemed not really interested in moving the matter, election monitors said.

Minister Devananda alleged that a section of the media continuously misled the public regarding the government intentions. The minister said that some journalists had acknowledged privately that a section of the media, too, contributed to the environment that finally led to an armed conflict.

Devananda urged the media to be mindful of the implications of various agendas pursued by interested parties, including some sections of the media.

Minister Devananda faulted the Illankai Thamil Arasu Kadchi (ITAK) led Tamil National Alliance (TNA) for creating a situation that facilitated the previous government project to put off Provincial Council polls.

The former militant alleged that TNA neglected its responsibilities. Instead, the TNA parliamentary group backed the then government but failed to take tangible measures to influence the conducting of Provincial Council polls.

India has been continuously pushing for the full implementation of the 13th Amendment though some political parties represented in parliament strongly opposed the concept of devolution. Political sources said that Devananda made the announcement amidst the ongoing deliberations undertaken by a government appointed committee to prepare a new Constitution. President’s Counsel Romesh de Silva heads the 9-member committee.

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Earliest Sri Lanka can recover from bankruptcy is in 2027 – Dr Bandula Gunawardena




Minister of Transport and Highways and Minister of Mass Media Dr Bandula Gunawardena at a press briefing held at the Presidential Media Center today (30) said that the earliest Sri Lanka can recover from bankruptcy is in 2027, at which time it is envisaged that the countries foreign reserves which stand at USD 3.5 billion at present would increase to USD 14 billion..


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Pope Francis to evict Cardinal Raymond Burke from Vatican




US Cardinal Raymond Burke has been a leader in the Catholic Church for decades (BBC)

Pope Francis is evicting US Cardinal Raymond Burke, an outspoken critic, from his Vatican apartment and revoking his salary.

Cardinal Burke is part of a group of American conservatives who have long opposed the Pope’s plans for reforming the Catholic Church.

A Vatican source told the BBC that Pope Francis has not yet carried out his intention to evict the 75-year-old and the decision is not meant as a personal punishment, the source added. Instead, it comes from the belief that a person should not enjoy cardinal privileges while criticising the head of the church.

Still, the move is “unprecedented in the Francis era”, Christopher White, a Vatican observer who writes for the National Catholic Reporter, told the BBC. “Typically, retired cardinals continue to reside in Rome after stepping down from their positions, often remaining active in papal liturgies and ceremonial duties,” he said. “Evicting someone from their Vatican apartment sets a new precedent.”

White warned that the decision could “provoke significant backlash” and deepen divides between the Vatican and the US church, where there is already “fragmentation”.

Cardinal Burke has yet to respond to the news and the BBC has reached out to his office for comment.

The Pope revealed his plan to act against the cardinal at a meeting with heads of Vatican offices last week. His frustration with US detractors who take a more traditional or conservative view on several issues appears to be coming to a boil.

Earlier this month, he fired Joseph Strickland, a conservative Texas bishop who had blasted his attempts to move the church to more liberal positions on abortion, transgender rights and same-sex marriage. The removal followed a church investigation into governance of the diocese.

A few months before, the Pope told members of the Jesuit religious order in Portugal that there was “a very strong, organised, reactionary attitude in the US church”, which he called “backward”, according to the Guardian.

Tensions with Cardinal Burke, who was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI, have been simmering for nearly a decade, with the American prelate openly criticising Pope Francis over both social and liturgical issues.

“Cardinal Burke’s situation seems to stem from his gradual alienation from the Pope,” said  White. “It appears the Pope perceives Burke as fostering a cult of personality, centred around traditionalism or regressive ideals. This action seems aimed at limiting Burke’s influence by severing his ties to Rome.”

Pope Francis with hand up in front of Vatican building
Pope Francis waves to crowds while leaving St Peter’s Square (pic BBC)

Most recently, the cardinal held a conference called The Synodal Babel in Rome on the eve of the Pope’s synod, or meeting of bishops, last month.

He also joined fellow conservatives in publishing a “declaration of truths” in 2019 that described the Catholic church as disoriented and confused under Pope Francis, saying that it had moved away from core teachings on divorce, contraception, homosexuality and gender. Notably, he disagreed with the Pope promoting Covid vaccines.

Within church politics, he and Pope Francis were at odds over the firing of the head of the Knights of Malta after the order’s charity branch was found to have distributed condoms in Myanmar.

The Pope, in turn, has demoted Cardinal Burke within the church hierarchy or moved him to posts with less influence over the years.

Michael Matt, a columnist for the right-wing Catholic newspaper The Remnant, wrote that the most recent action taken against Cardinal Burke showed that Pope Francis was “cancelling faithful prelates who offer hierarchical cover to pro-life, pro-family, pro-tradition hardliners”. He accused the Pope of putting critics into “forced isolation”.


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Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger dies aged 100




Henry Kissinger at the State Department's 230th anniversary celebrations in 2019

Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger has died at the age 100.

He served as America’s top diplomat and national security adviser during the Nixon and Ford administrations.

In a statement, Kissinger Associates, a political consulting firm he founded, said the German-born former diplomat died at his home in Connecticut but did not give a cause of death.

During his decades long career, Mr Kissinger played a key, and sometimes controversial, role in US foreign and security policy.

Born in Germany in 1973, Kissinger first came to the US in 1938 when his family fled Nazi Germany. He became a US citizen in 1943 and went on to serve three years in the US Army and later in the Counter Intelligence Corps. After earning bachelor’s, master’s, and PhD degrees, he taught international relations at Harvard.

In 1969, then-President Richard Nixon appointed him National Security Adviser, a position which gave him enormous influence over US foreign policy in two administrations.


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