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Nagananda seeks SC intervention, bribery probe

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2019 presidential election:

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Attorney-at-law Nagananda Kodituwakku, in his capacity as General Secretary of Vinivida Peramuna, has moved the Supreme Court against the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption (CIABOC), current members of the CIABOC, former members of the Election Commission (EC), SLPP General Secretary Sagara Kariyawasam, MP, and Chamal Rajapaksa, MP against the EC’s failure to disqualify SLPP presidential candidate Gotabaya Rajapaksa on the basis that he had not renounced his US citizenship at the time the EC accepted nominations.

The application in this regard has been made under Article 140 of the Constitution considered with Section 24 of the CIABOC Act No 19 of 1994.

Kodituwakku has alleged that Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s nomination as the SLPP presidential candidate, was accepted whereas the EC rejected him though he renounced his British citizenship. Kodituwakku was to join the fray as the candidate of Okkoma Rajavaru Okkama Vasiyo, a registered political party though the party withdrew support at the last moment.

Public interest litigation activist Kodituwakku named former EC Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya, who is now the Chairman of the Delimitation Commission as the sixth respondent. The petitioner held Deshapriya accountable for the EC’s conduct in that regard.

The petitioner requested the appointment of a Special Bench in terms of Article 132 (3) (iii) to hear and determine his application, direct the CIABOC and /or members of the Commission, Eva Wanasundera, Deepali Wijesundera, Chandra Nimal Wakista (2,3 and 4 respondents, respectively) and its Director General Kanishka Wijerathna (5th respondent) to initiate a credible and independent inquiry into complaints made by the petitioner on the corruption charges levelled against the 6th respondent, as expeditiously as possible and direct the current CIABOC to instruct the 5th respondent to initiate criminal proceedings against the 6th respondent.

Kodituwakku stated that before the enactment of the 20th Amendment to the Constitution in Oct 2020, dual citizens had been disqualified from contesting the presidential election in terms of the Article 91(1) (d) (xiii) of the Constitution.

Kodituwakku, however acknowledged in his petition that the Secretary of Okkoma Rajavaru Okkama Vasiyo, blocked his candidature by withdrawing backing of his party at the last moment.  Kodituwakku has charged the said official in the Nugegoda Magistrate court over what he called a criminal breach of trust and the case is pending.

The law prohibits anyone other than a person nominated by a registered political party, a member of Parliament or a former member of the Parliament from contesting the presidential election.

Kodituwakku has referred to a sworn statement dated May 18, 2021 made available to him by former EC member Prof. Ratnajeevan Hoole (7th respondent) to confirm the discussion he had with the 6th respondent also on May 18, 2021.

The EC accepted Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s nomination after the Court of Appeal dismissed a high profile case in which two civil society activists asked the court to withdraw Rajapaksa’s citizenship, on the basis he renounced it in 2003 to become a citizen of the United States and regained it two years later in an irregular manner.

The three-judge panel on Friday unanimously rejected the case. The Court of Appeal declared that it had no merit.

In his petition, Kodituwakku made reference to a dispute between Deshapriya and Prof. Hoole over the SLPP presidential candidate’s credentials, the former getting in touch with what he called Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s camp and the academic being accused of being an LTTE sympathiser  by a section of the media.

According to the petition, the bone of contention is the failure on the part of the SLPP candidate to produce a certificate of renunciation of his US citizenship.

In the run-up to the presidential election, SLPP Chairman Prof. G.L. Peiris refuted accusations against the party candidate. Prof. Peiris explained the circumstances their candidate had renounced his US citizenship to pave the way for him to join the fray.



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Central Bank urged to save collapsing local industries

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The National Freedom Front (NFF) has requested the immediate intervention of the Governor of the Central Bank Ajith Nivard Cabraal to save micro, small and medium scale industries badly affected by the current economic downturn caused by the Covid-19.

The NFF parliamentary group comprises six members, including one National List.

Industries Minister Wimal Weerawansa, on behalf of the SLPP constituent parties, has warned of steep increase in unemployment, drop in the contribution made by small and medium scale industries to the national economy and the further widening of the gap between the rich and poor.

Party sources told The Island that the NFF had decided to take up the urgent matter because, in spite of repeated promises, those who had been severely affected were yet to receive assistance. Minister Weerawansa has urged the Central Bank to restructure loans obtained by affected industries and also extend the moratorium.

Weerawansa has in a letter dated Oct.18, told Cabraal that according to a survey conducted by the Industrial Development Board, micro, small and medium enterprises suffered serious setbacks. However, of the loans made available through the banking sector, a substantial segment had been disbursed among major players, the Minister said, while pointing out that in other countries in the region more than 50 percent of total loans were made available to micro, small and medium industries.

Unfortunately, here in Sri Lanka they received approximately 15 percent of the total given as loans, the minister said.

Minister Weerawansa said that though industries suffered, almost all state and private banks had recorded much improved performances with significant profits.

The Minister said that following his intervention with the cabinet of ministers, the government agreed on a plan of action to deal with the situation. It would be the responsibility of the Central Bank to implement the agreed proposals, he said.

(SF)

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So far no side effects among Pfizer vaccinated 15,000 A/L students

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

Over 15,000 GCE AL students had been vaccinated with Pfizer and there had not been any side effects, Colombo District Director of Health Dr. Dilip Liyanage told the media yesterday.

He said that the Ministry of Education had given them a list of 20,688 that needed to be vaccinated.

“We would like to assure parents that there is no need to worry. Over 15,000 children have been vaccinated and there have been no problems so far. Trust the health professionals and vaccinate your child at the first opportunity you get,” he said.

Dr. Liyanage added that children who missed their chance to get vaccinated on weekdays, can get vaccinated at the MOH office near their home.

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Govt. approves prohibition of cattle slaughter

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The government has approved the prohibition of cattle slaughter. The decision was announced at the weekly Cabinet meeting at the Information Department yesterday (19). The government said the relevant laws and regulations, including those passed by Local Government authorities would be amended for that purpse.

The Legal Draftsman has drafted Bills to amend the following acts and ordinances.

• Authority 272 of the Cattle Slaughter Ordinance No. 9 of 1893

• Act No. 29 of 1958 Concerning Animals

• Municipal Councils Ordinance – Section 252

• Section 255 of the Municipal Councils Ordinance

• Ordinance No. 15 of the Urban Council Act of 1987

The Attorney General has certified that the said Bills do not clash with the provisions of the Constitution.

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