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Nava Lanka Freedom Party claims 75% of progressive forces with it

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By Sirimantha Rathnasekera

The Nava Lanka Freedom Party (NLFP) has the support of 75 percent of progressive forces, party leader Kumara Welgama said on Thursday at an event to appoint 100 new electoral organisers.

Among those who were appointed electoral organisers are former ministers Nandimithra Ekanayaka, Priyangani Abeyweera, Milroy Fernando and Jayatissa Ranaweera, former Chief Minister Peshala Jayarathne, and ex-Kaduwela Mayor G.H. Buddadasa.

“These are all experienced politicians. We were trained by the best including former PM Sirimavo Bandaranaike. It’s our duty to teach the future generations of politicians. We are a new party and the journey is tough. However, if we work hard, we can win,” he said. Welgama said that the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) is irrelevant, and people only talk about the United National Party (UNP) because of President Ranil Wickemesinghe.

“The Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) has some standing with the people, but they didn’t take advantage of the anti-government protests. So, we have a good chance. The youth expect a system change. People abhor corruption. If a politician is free of corruption, people will embrace him or her,” he said.

Welgama said the National Council must not be a tool to protect the Rajapaksas. President Ranil Wickremesinghe is controlled by the Rajapaksas, but he can dissolve the Parliament in early 2023.

“We must be ready when that happens. If we act now, most of our people will win at the general election. We must be open and critical. We must have internal democracy. I always tell our organisers to criticise me. Nothing good comes out of flattery,” he said.



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President Ranil Wickremasinghe calls upon chief prelates of Asgiriya and Malwatta chapters

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(pic courtsey Divaina)

President Ranil Wickremasinghe called upon the chief prelates of the Asgiriya and Malwatta chapters on Thursday (02) morning to seek their blessings ahead of the 75th Independence day celebrations.

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US secures deal on bases to complete arc around China

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US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin (R) was in the Philippines to finalise the deal (picture BBC)

BBC reported that the United States has secured access to four additional military bases in the Philippines – a key bit of real estate which would offer a front seat to monitor the Chinese in the South China Sea and around Taiwan.

With this deal, Washington has stitched the gap in the arc of US alliances stretching from South Korea and Japan in the north to Australia in the south.

The missing link had been the Philippines, which borders two of the biggest potential flashpoints, Taiwan and the South China Sea, or the West Philippine Sea as Manila insists on calling it.

The US already had limited access to five sites under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) – the new additions and expanded access, according to a statement from Washington, will “allow more rapid support for humanitarian and climate-related disasters in the Philippines, and respond to other shared challenges”, likely a veiled reference to countering China in the region.

The statement came after Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin met Philippine President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr in Manila on Thursday.

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Nuland accuses China of failing to help SL with ‘credible and specific assurances’ acceptable to IMF

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Nuland addressing the media in Colombo (pic by Thushara Atapattu)

US hopes LG polls will be held in March

By Saman Indrajith

US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Victoria Nuland, yesterday said China had not provided credible and specific assurances to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for Sri Lanka to overcome the current economic crisis.

Addressing the media in Colombo, Nuland said: “What China has offered so far is not enough. We need to see credible and specific assurances that they will meet the IMF standard of debt relief. We, the United States, are prepared to do our part. Our Paris Club partners are prepared to do their part. India has made strong commitments that it will provide the credible assurances the IMF is looking for.”

Nuland said that India and the Paris Club had given strong assurances to the IMF to help Sri Lanka to obtain a $2.9 billion bailout.

“We want to see an IMF program as quickly as possible. That is what Sri Lanka deserves; that is what Sri Lanka needs,” Nuland said.

Nuland said the US would give Sri Lanka an additional USD 30 million to provide 96,000 schoolchildren with food.

She said Sri Lankans had taken to the streets, last year, demanding cleaner, accountable and inclusive governance, with transparency, and the government was expected to hold the elections to enable people to enjoy their democratic rights.

Nuland said that the US was glad to see that consultation between the government and other parties towards reconciliation had commenced. She said that she had met with members of the Tamil political parties, earlier yesterday. “We hope that the dialogue will continue to achieve real results such as return of the lands to their rightful owners.”

Nuland said that the US hoped that local elections would be held in March, the dialogue commenced for reconciliation would continue, and the Prevention of Terrorism Act would be reformed to meet international standards.

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