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LSSP cautions government on US State Secretary’s visit

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The Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP) has cautioned the government not to fall into the USA’s trap to get Sri Lanka involved in the war of attrition between the US and China.

LSSP General Secretary Prof. Tissa Vitarana said in a statement yesterday (27): “During the US State Secretary’s visit, there will also be pressure to sign the MCC and SOFA agreements that the UNP-led yahapalanaya government was prepared to sign to obtain a grant of US$ 480 million. The Gunaruwan Committee has given instances of countries like Madagascar that signed and fulfilled the conditions, but did not receive the promised amount of money. Not surprising, as the USA itself is in an economic crisis and heavily in debt.

“The Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is one of the most powerful politicians in the world. He is also the USA’s Minister of State (in the USA the members of the Cabinet are called Secretaries, not Ministers). His present visit to Sri Lanka, and three other Asian countries including India, is to get some Asian support for its planned attack on China, which has not received the support of ASEAN.

“For example, the Philippines President Duterte has said that he is not ready to go to war with China, and will resolve their issues bilaterally and peacefully. Even the European Union led by Germany has recognised that China is only interested in trade, and it is refusing to support the USA’s military attack on China, the LSSP statement further noted.

“The USA is advancing its “India First” policy to rally Asian support against China. Pakistan has taken China’s side and Sri Lanka too must do the same. This is a truly Non-aligned Policy to which all countries that were colonized have always subscribed to, from the time we were liberated from Imperialist rule. Under no circumstances should Sri Lanka support USA military aggression against China, it added.

“Even staying neutral is tacit approval. We must oppose war by the USA against a fellow Third World country. What right has the USA to claim that China poses a military danger to it, when its boundaries are thousands of miles away? It is the USA that has over 400 military bases around China, while China has only one outside its boundaries”, the LSSP said.

“Signing the MCC and SOFA agreements would compel us to support USA aggression. The MCC agreement would enable the USA to exploit our economy without restriction and its companies to buy our land besides establishing rapid transport links from Colombo to Trincomalee. The SOFA agreement would allow thousands of armed troops from the USA to use the whole of Sri Lanka as a military base (now that they are losing Diego Garcia, their main Indian Ocean base).

“Thus, the LSSP appeals to the Government to take a non-aligned stance and support China. It is also vitally important that Sri Lanka does not sign the MCC and SOFA agreements.

“The Sri Lankan government should ensure that the UN Declaration on the Indian Ocean as a Zone of Peace be implemented immediately. This is a declaration which Sri Lanka itself initiated.”

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Foreign force behind Easter Sunday attacks – Sirisena

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

A powerful foreign country or an agency was behind the Easter Sunday bombings and the National Thowheed Jamaat (NTJ) leader Zaharan Hashim, former President Maithripala Sirisena yesterday told the PCoI investigating the Easter Sunday attacks.

“I also do not believe that Zaharan was the leader of that organisation. Because a leader would never have initiated a suicide attack and died during the first wave,” Sirisena said.

The former President also said that Islamic extremism had spread rapidly in the country due to the support extremists received from Muslim politicians.

Sirisena also said that the military and intelligence officials had been demoralised by harassment they suffered during the yahaalanaya administration. This was the reason why local institutions failed to uncover NTJ’s plans. “But this incident is a conspiracy because it appeared that Zaharan was being manipulated by some foreign hand,” the former President said.

The President further said that during the previous administration, UNPers had headed the Ministry of Law and Order for several years that they had significantly weakened the intelligence services. Although he had taken the Ministry of law and Order in the last stages of the yahapalana government, he had not been able to undo the damage the UNP had done in four years, the witness said.

Commissioner: “Did you know that during your tenure as President, Muslim MPs and ministers were forcible acquiring land in Vanni and Batticaloa and they were constructing Muslim villages and mosques there?”

Sirisena: “Some ministers used their political power to clear forests and cultivate lands. Some ministers were angry with me when I tried to stop them. I tried hard to control those actions. But it was difficult for me to deal with that situation. Fundamentalism rose due to the protection given by Muslim political leaders. Certain political parties are based on religion, race and language. This is disastrous. I tried to stop these people but my decisions were not implemented.”

 

 

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Bathiudeen granted bail

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Former Minister Rishad Bathiudeen was released on bail by the Fort Magistrate’s Court yesterday. Fort Magistrate Priyantha Liyanage released Bathiudeen on cash bail of Rs. 100,000 with two sureties of one million rupees each.

The Magistrate also imposed a travel ban on Bathiudeen and said that the guarantors should be his close relatives.

The Magistrate granted bail to the MP considering the risk of him contracting COVID-19 as two inmates in cells next to his had recently tested positive for coronavirus.

Bathiudeen was remanded in connection with alleged misappropriation of public funds during the last presidential election to transport voters.

The former minister has been accused of misusing 222 buses owned by the SLTB for transporting internally displaced persons from Puttalam to polling stations in Silavathurai, Mannar during the 2019 Presidential Election. Two others, Mohamed Yaseen Samsudeen and Alagarathnam Manoranjan face the same charges.

They have allegedly violated Article 82(1) of Presidential Elections Act, No. 15 of 1981 by misappropriating public funds amounting to Rs. 9.5 million.

Bathiudeen was arrested at an apartment complex at Ebenezer Place in Dehiwala in the early hours of October 19. He was then produced before the court and placed under remand custody. His bail application was also rejected by the magistrate’s court on several occasions

 

 

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Zahran supported Sirisena and SLMC at 2015 elections, Hizbullah tells PCoI

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

National Thawheed Jamaat (NTJ) and its leader Zahran Hashim supported Former President Maithripala Sirisena and the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) at the 2015 elections, former Eastern Province Governor M.L.A.M Hizbullah, on Tuesday night, told the PCoI probing the Easter Sunday attacks.

Hizbullah was giving evidence before the PCoI for the second day.

“Zahran supported the SLMC at the 2015 general election. After the UNP-led coalition won the election, NTJ members fought with our supporters. Several people were injured during the clash, including Zahran’s brother. SLMC leader Rauff Hakeem visited Zahran’s brother at the hospital.”

The witness also submitted a footage of a demonstration opposite NTJ Headquarters in Kattankudy. It contained a speech by Zahran, who expressed his dismay after Sirisena appointed Hizbullah as a national list MP.

“In this video, Zahran clearly says he supported Maithripala Sirisena at the 2015 presidential election. Zahran also says he sent a fax to the former President, urging him not to appoint me to Parliament.”

However, it was earlier revealed that in 2015, representatives of five recognised political parties, including the UPFA and the UNP, had signed agreements with Zahran in the run-up to the 2015 general election. Representatives of Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC,) Democratic Party, UNP, UPFA and National Front for Good Governance (NFGG), too, had signed agreements with Zahran in exchange for NTJ support, the Commission was told.

Hizbullah, on Monday, admitted that his party had also signed an agreement with the NTJ.

“Zahran told social media that he would support any politician who agreed to his proposals. All the parties joined him. I also went along.”

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