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Polls won’t impede Indo-Lanka talks on ‘financial measures’ to save SL economy

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By Shamindra Ferdinando

The upcoming general election will not impede ongoing talks between India and Sri Lanka on re-scheduling of bilateral debt repayment, according to authoritative sources.

Asked whether a consensus could be reached before the general election, sources answered in the negative. They, however, explained that relevant officials were continuing deliberations in that regard.

Indian and Sri Lankan officials held a video conference on July 22 to discuss re-scheduling of bilateral debt repayment.

 The Indian delegation consisted of senior External Affairs, Finance, and the EXIM Bank officials whereas Sri Lanka was represented by the Department of External Resources.

Talks followed President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Premier Mahinda Rajapaksa, who is also the Finance Minister having telephone conversations with Indian leader Narendra Modi, on May 23 and 27, respectively. Subsequently, Indian High Commissioner Gopal Baglay again took up the matter on May 29 leading to the Indian High Commission in Colombo engaging the government to pave the way for talks on re-scheduling of bilateral debt repayment.

 The next round of technical discussions between the two sides on rescheduling of debt repayment is expected to be held soon though not before the election.

 Earlier President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said that the economy was in dire straits due to major revenue sources, namely garment exports, foreign remittances and tourism being badly affected as a result of corona epidemic.

 Sources said that in addition to the re-scheduling of debt repayment, Sri Lanka had sought 1.1 billion USD under the SWAP facility to top up the USD 400 million SAARC facility to assist Sri Lanka in overcoming its foreign exchange crisis. Sources said that USD 400 mn facility had been finalized whereas discussions were yet to take place as regards the USD 1.1 bn currency swap facility. Discussions were expected after the general election.

Responding to another query, sources said that once the election was concluded talks on re-scheduling of debt repayment and USD 1.1 bn currency swap facility could take place.

 Asked for the Samagi Jana Balavegaya’s response to ongoing talks with India, SJB Colombo District candidate Dr. Harsha de Silva said: “We will certainly work with all our friends around the world to see how they could help us. We will continue all negotiations and we are confident we could arrive at solutions that would help us tide over the difficulties.”

 

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Murder convicted SLPP candidate not allowed to vote

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The murder convicted SLPP Ratnapura district candidate Premalal Jayasekera, who was sentenced to death over a killing in Kahawatte during the Presidential Election in 2015, was not allowed to vote at Aug.5 general election, CaFFE Executive Director Manas Makeen said.

Although Jayasekera was sentenced to death there was speculation that he would be allowed to vote. The shooting took place on Jan 05, 2015 and caused the death of a supporter of then Opposition presidential candidate Maithripala Sirisena.

The UNP supporter, who was engaged in decorating a stage, was fatally wounded in the shooting and succumbed to his injuries in hospital on January 8.

The Pelmadulla Magistrate issued arrest warrants on the suspects involved.

Former Deputy Minister Jayasekara was arrested on January 10 that year over the election-related shooting incident while he had been released on bail on December 07, 2015.

Former Sabaragamuwa Provincial Councilor Nilantha Jayakody and former Kahawatte Pradeshiya Sabha chairman Vajira Darshana were also arrested over the shooting.

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Over 70 per cent turnout

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The overall voter turnout at yesterday’s general election was over 70%, according to election officials and monitors.

The overall turnout at the Vanni Electoral District was 74%, district returning officer S.M. Saman Bandulasena said. The Vanni Electoral District comprises of Mullaitivu (74%) Vavuniya (74%) and Mannar (76%) administrative districts

The turnout in other districts were: Galle 70%, Matale 72%, Nuwara Eliya 75%, Ratnapura 71%, Puttalam 64%, Kandy 72%, Polonnaruwa 72%, Hambantota 76%, Anuradhapura 70%, Matara 71%, Batticaloa 76%, Kalutara 70%, Trincomalee 73%, Digamadulla 72%, Kurunegala 65%, Kegalle 70%, Gampaha 68%, Colombo 70%, Badulla 74%, Jaffna 67% and Moneragala 75%.

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Mangala prepares to launch new movement

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…support for LGBTQ assured

Former Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera plans to launch a combined political-civil society campaign tomorrow against the authoritarian rule.
In a statement issued yesterday (5), Samaraweera, who quit the electoral contest after obtaining nominations from the Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) a few weeks before the polls, emphasized the need for re-commitment to democracy as the country hurled towards an autocracy with the rapid convergence of the executive, the military and the clergy; the legislature and the judiciary are being turned into mere rubber seals of the executive President.

Mangala Samaraweera

The former minister addressed lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights among other issues amidst indications the SLPP could comfortably form the next government. Samaraweera said: “The LGBTQ movement must be supported and encouraged in their struggle to do away with archaic Victorian laws governing same sex relationships between consenting adults. All human beings – irrespective of sexual orientation, gender, ethnicity, caste or religion should be treated as equal and diversity must be celebrated in all its manifestations.”

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