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Karu ready to lead UNP

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Former Speaker and UNP stalwart Karu Jayasuriya yesterday said he was ready to lead the UNP. In a statement issued to media, Jayasuriya said that he had decided to inform the incumbent UNP leadership and seniors of his willingness to consider a large number of requests from various parties for him to accept the UNP leadership for the sake of the party and the country.

“I am ready to render all my service and take up the responsibilities of the party for the benefit of the motherland,” Jayasuriya said.

“The UNP founded by DS Senanayake led a successful struggle to achieve the country’s independence. The UNP has the expertise, talent and international recognition needed to face the challenges of the 21st century.

“However the present plight of the party is a cause of frustration for members and the public who seek national progress. Many patriotic forces approached me following the defeat the UNP suffered at the last general election and requested me to accept the party leadership, to steer away the UNP from its current crisis and make it a formidable force once again. Among those who approached me were the members of all religions including the Maha Sangha, former Ministers and MPs of the UNP, intellectuals and well-wishers of the party, leaders of other parties that worked with the UNP in the recent past, representatives of people at provincial council and local government bodies, leaders of the trade unions supporting the UNP and members of civil organizations working for the democratic values.

“All those who met me pointed out that we had arrived at a critical point which would decide whether the party would go down or regain its former self. I too believe that if we manage to identify the people’s aspirations and heed their concerns then we may be able to introduce reforms and transform the party into a formidable force.

“I obtained UNP membership in 1994, when Ranil Wickremesinghe accepted the party leadership. Since then I have rendered service as the party Chairman, Deputy Leader and as President of the party Leadership Council and helped improve the UNP’s electoral performance at the 2014 Uva Provincial Council election.

“It is no secret that I worked to make the 17th Amendment to the Constitution a reality and introduce the Right to Information to uphold democratic values in our country. I dedicated myself to introducing party reforms since 1995.”



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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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