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President: People will decide whether he contests next presidential election or not

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People of the country would decide whether he would contest the next presidential election, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said, on Saturday, addressing a Gama Samaga Pilisandara programme at Walapone, Nuwara-Eliya.

“Before thinking of the next term, I must think about what I have to do now. There is still a long way to go.”

The people had appointed him for 60 months and only 14 months had elapsed, the President said. He was planning to develop rural areas during the rest of his tenure, he added. “We can’t only think about developing the urban centres. I have never destroyed the environment. When I was the Defence Secretary I established parks, built tanks, protected the wetlands; this is how I protected the environment.”

President Rajapaksa said that under him Vihara Maha Devi Park had been given a facelift and recently, a group of youth had tried to place a large billboard there and damage the environment.

“I stopped posters and billboards being put up in Colombo, he said.

The President added that a number of media institutions had been attacking the government unfairly. While he had not taken any action against such institutions, he had the capacity and laws to do so, he said.

“Media freedom is not what media owners want to do.  We can’t let media owners rule the country. I haven’t done anything so far but if push comes to shove, I know what to do. Between 2015 and 2019 also around 1,000 acres of forests were destroyed but no one said anything abouy the forest destruction.”

 

 



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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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