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Prez takes defence



SLPP bags lion’s share of ministries

Ex-president Sirisena an ordinary MP

Newcomer Sabry receives justice portfolio

Four members of Rajapaksa family in Cabinet

Wijeyadasa rejects state ministry

Former TNA MP now a state minister

Several Viyathmaga members made ministers

By Shamindra Ferdinando

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who is also the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces yesterday (12) took the defence portfolio although the 19th Amendment to the Constitution bars the President from holding any portfolio.

The 19th Amendment enacted in early 2015 repealed Article 44 (2), which enabled the President to hold any number of portfolios.

 President Rajapaksa refrained from assuming defence portfolio when he appointed a smaller interim Cabinet last November in the run-up to the Aug 5 parliamentary election.

 Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa was among 25 ministers who took oaths before President Gotabaya Rajapaksa at the Magul Maduwa of Dalada Maligawa. In addition to them, 40 received appointments as State Ministers.

The President’s Office on Monday (10) issued a gazette notification with a list of 28 ministries and 40 state ministries.

 Of those who had received cabinet portfolios, 17 represent the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP). Other ministries were shared by SLFP 2 (Nimal Siripala de Silva and Mahinda Amaraweera), MEP (Dinesh Gunawardena), EPDP (Douglas Devananda), NFF (Wimal Weerawansa), DLF (Vasudeva Nanayakkara) and PHU (Udaya Prabath Gammanpila).

Among the Cabinet of ministers were two members SLPP National List members, Prof. G. L. Peiris, Chairman of the party and Ali Sabry, PC.

 President Gotabaya Rajapaksa accommodated Sabry in his Cabinet as the Justice Minister.

 The Cabinet includes four Rajapaksas, the President (Defence), the Prime Minister (Finance, Buddha Sasana, Religious and Cultural Affairs and Urban Development and Housing), Chamal Rajapaksa (Irrigation) and Namal Rajapaksa (Youth Affairs and Sports). In addition to them, Shasheendra Rajapaksa received appointment as State Minister of Paddy and Cereals, Organic Food, Vegetables, Fruits, Chillies, Onions and Potatoes, Seed Production and High Tech Agriculture.

 Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapaksa, PC, declined to accept post of a State Minister as he expected a Cabinet portfolio. Wijeyadasa Rajapaksa contested the recently-concluded general election from Colombo on the SLPP ticket after switching his allegiance to President Rajapaksa. He entered Parliament on the UNP ticket at the previous general election.

One-time Justice Minister was not available for comment.

 Chamal Rajapaksa, in addition to being the minister of irrigation, took oaths as State Minister for Internal Security, Home Affairs and Disaster Management. The police come under him. One-time Speaker was the only one to hold both State and cabinet portfolios.

 Many an eyebrow was raised when the swearing in ceremony concluded without former President and leader of the SLFP Maithripala Sirisena, who had arrived at the swearing-in ceremony a bit late, not receiving a portfolio. Having contested the general election on the SLPP ticket except Jaffna and Kalutara, the SLFP obtained 13 seats. In addition to the elected, the SLFP secured one National List slot (Dr. Suren Raghavan). The SLFP on its own won one seat in the Jaffna electoral district (Angajan Ramanathan).

 In addition to the two Cabinet ministries received by the SLFP, SLFP General Secretary Dayasiri Jayasekera and two others, Duminda Dissanayake and Lasantha Alagiyawanna were sworn in as State Ministers.

Deputy Leader of the NFF Jayantha Samaraweera, who contested from Kalutara on the SLPP ticket was among the State Ministers. Sons of former Prime Ministers, the late Ratnasiri Wickramanayaka and the late D. M. Jayaratne, Vidura and Anuradha, respectively, too, received appointments as State Ministers.

 President Rajapaksa accommodated several elected Viyathmaga members among the State Ministers and Chairpersons of District Coordinating Committees. Eight out of nine candidates fielded by the civil society group Viyathmaga entered Parliament. Of them, retired Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera, Dr. Nalaka Godahewa and Prof. Channa Jayasumana were named State Ministers. In addition to them, two Viyathmaga National List members, former Central Bank Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal and Dr. Seetha Arambepola were accommodated among the group of State Ministers.

 Three other Viyathmaga members, Dr. Upul Galappaththi (Hambantota), Nalaka Bandara Kottegoda (Matale) and Gunapala Ratnasekera (Kurunegala) were named Chairpersons of District Coordinating Committees.

 Former Tamil National Alliance dissident Sadasivam Viyalendran  (Batticaloa) was sworn in as State Minister for postal services development and mass media.

 Jeewan Thondaman, son of the late Arumugam Thondaman, CWC leader, was named estate housing and community infrastructure facilities state minister.

Nipuna, son of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s sister was among 23 Chairpersons of District Coordinating Committees.

 Former ministers and State Ministers, LSSP Chief Prof. Tissa Vitharana, S. B. Dissanayake, Susil Premjayantha, Ranjith Siyambalapitiya Anura Priyadarshana Yapa, Mahinda Samarasinghe, Jihn Seneviratne, Chandima Weerakkody, Dilan Perera, Rohana Dissanayake, Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena, K.K. Masthan, Angajan Ramanathan and Dushyantha Mithrapala were among those left out. Communist Party National List  MP, too, wasn’t accommodated in the Cabinet.

 The SLPP won a staggering 145 seats out of 225-member Parliament. The breakaway UNP faction, the Samagi Jana Balavegaya secured 54 seats whereas the UNP, the TNA and the JVP led Jathika Jana Balavegaya won 01, 10 and 03 seats, respectively.



Bipartisan US Congress legislation calls for self-determination for Eelam Tamils




…proposes South Sudan, Montenegro, East Timor, Bosnia, Eritrea, and Kosovo style solution

A controversial resolution has been introduced to the US Congress calling on the United States to work towards an independence referendum for Eelam Tamils and recognize the genocide committed against them by the Sri Lankan state.

The resolution, introduced by Wiley Nickel, is the first of its kind to be brought to the US Congress. It comes as Tamils marked the LTTE’s defeat 15 years ago, with May 18 commemorated as Tamil Genocide Remembrance Day, worldwide.

The resolution calls for the “no recurrence of past violence, including the ‘Tamil Genocide’, by supporting the right to self-determination of Eelam Tamil people and their call for an independence referendum for a lasting peaceful resolution”.

It goes on to detail historic Tamil support for independence and how “similar conflicts have successfully been democratically, peacefully, and legally resolved by exercising the right to self-determination by the people in countries such as South Sudan, Montenegro, East Timor, Bosnia, Eritrea, and Kosovo via independence referendums with support from the United States and other countries”.

It resolves that the House of Representatives:

(1) urges the United States to strengthen diplomatic channels with the Eelam Tamils and collaborate toward peace and stability in the South Asian region of the Indo-Pacific;

(2) urges the United States and the international community to advocate for and protect the political rights of the Eelam Tamil people and work toward a permanent political solution based on their right to self-determination that is democratically and peacefully approved by them through a universally accepted process of independence referendum; and

(3) recognizes the genocide against the Eelam Tamil people by Sri Lanka.

The resolution has bipartisan support and is co-sponsored by Susan Wild, Danny K. Davis, Nicole Malliotakis, Mike Carey, Donald G. Davis, Summer L. Lee, and Jeff Jackson.

The full text of the resolution: “This conflict shattered families and communities, leaving deep scars that are still felt to this day,” said Nickel as he addressed the United States Congress today (May 15).

“My resolution recognizes the genocide in Sri Lanka and affirms the right of Tamils to self-determination through a democratic process.” Nickel stated that the resolution “emphasises the need for a peaceful and democratic solution to ongoing tensions in Sri Lanka”.

“It advocates an independence referendum, a process that has been used successfully to resolve similar conflicts in other parts of the world. This echoes our commitment to democratic principles and underscores our support for human rights globally.”

“The resolution is a significant step forward in our struggle for self-determination,” said an Eelam Tamil activist who worked closely with US representatives, from Washington DC. They were present alongside dozens of others, as Nickel spoke.

“This is the first time that support for an independent Tamil Eelam has been publicly and explicitly advocated for at the United States Congress. Fifteen years since the end of the Mullivaikkal genocide, our struggle is continuing and support for it has only grown. We are not a defeated people.”

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Refugee from Sri Lankan now Labour Party Mayor of UK town



A smiling Labour Councillor Elango Elavalakan (left) at a ceremony where he was accepted as the Mayor of Ipswich Borough Council.

…worked in India, Uganda and Ruwanda before arriving in the UK

A Sri Lankan Tamil, who fled the country during the conflict, has been appointed the Mayor of Ipswich Borough Council.

According to the British media, Labour Councillor Elango Elavalakan is the first Hindu to hold that position. Members of Ipswich’s Hindu community attended Wednesday (15) evening’s ceremony, with celebrations at the nearby temple planned for later in the week.

Having fled Sri Lanka, Elavalakan lived and worked in India, Uganda and Rwanda before moving to the UK, the media reported. He initially moved to Ilford, in east London, before moving to Ipswich in 2006.

Labour Councillor Elango Elavalakan has taken over the ceremonial role after a unanimous vote at Ipswich Borough Council’s annual meeting.

“I’m so happy today, and very proud to be Mayor of this great town,” the media quoted Elavalakan as having said.

Council leader Neil MacDonald, who proposed the nomination, said Elavalakan would get to read out a general election result during his year in office.

“The announcement by a refugee who fled war and persecution, and who has made a new life and contributed to society here, will send a message,” MacDonald said.

Dr. Sachin Karale, Chair of Ipswich Hindu Samaj, said: “It shows the great diversity and multiculturalism of Ipswich town that a Hindu man is becoming Mayor. I’m really proud.”Elavalakan’s wife, Manchula Elavalakan, will be his consort.

The Mayor’s theme for the year will be “support and wellbeing” with his two chosen charities Genesis Orwell Mencap and Cancer Support Suffolk. ‘Ipswich is my home town’

“When I came for one project here, in Ipswich, I felt the people were very friendly,” he said. “So I decided, Ipswich is my home town.” He became a Labour councillor for St John’s ward in 2014.

“Having lived in many different countries and experienced many different lifestyles, I have always been interested in helping those that need it,” he said. “I am passionate about empowering communities and representing those in need.” Elavalakan is not the first Ipswich Mayor from the Indian sub-continent, however.

Kavas Jamas Bashah was born in Mumbai and was a senior officer of the Indian Civil Service.

He retired to Ipswich and became Mayor in 1925.

The town elected its first Mayor, Benjamin Brame, in 1836, following the Municipal Corporations Act the previous year which reformed local government and made Ipswich a municipal borough. Its first female mayor was Mary Whitmore, in 1946.

She was a suffragette and member of Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), and was made MBE in 1951 for her contribution to public services.

Albert Grant became Ipswich’s first black councillor and mayor of Ipswich in 1995.

He moved to the UK in 1955 at the age of 21 and has dedicated his life to tackling racism and fighting to secure equality and justice.

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Govt. asked how it intends to counter US-Eelam lobby



Dr. Wasantha Bandara

‘Far worse than Canadian declaration of Tamil genocide’

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Top Patriotic National Movement (PNM) spokesperson Dr. Wasantha Bandara said that the government should explain how it intended to counter the powerful Eelamist lobby seeking to divide the country on ethnic lines with the help of the US, a self-appointed world policeman.

Dr. Bandara said so commenting on a resolution that had been introduced to the US Congress calling on the government to work towards an independence referendum in the Northern and Eastern Provinces and recognise the genocide committed.

Dr. Bandara pointed out that the US move should be examined also taking into consideration the continuing Western support extended to the Khalistan movement seeking an independent state in India’s Punjab region.

The civil society activist said that the so-called bipartisan resolution had been timed for the 15th anniversary of Sri Lanka’s triumph over the separatist terrorist agenda.

Responding to another query, Dr. Bandara said that the US resolution meant that though the LTTE’s conventional military/terrorist power had been eradicated in the battlefield, the Eelamist lobby was busy in Western capitals.

According to him, the US-British led grouping pushed Sri Lanka over the accountability issue as part of their overall strategy to pressure the government on a solution that would end the country’s unitary status.

Dr. Bandara asked how could the government and the Opposition remain silent when the US-backed Eelamists’ push for a solution similar to self-determination granted to South Sudan, Montenegro, East Timor, Bosnia, Eritrea, and Kosovo through ‘independence referendums’ with support from the United States and other powerful countries.

The heightened threat to our unitary status should be one of the major issues at the forthcoming presidential poll, Dr. Bandara said, demanding that all political parties state their positions on the US moves.

Dr. Bandara said that the government should set the record straight in Washington and Geneva where agendas inimical to post-war Sri Lanka were being hatched.

Dr. Bandara said that successive governments, including the current dispensation, should be ashamed of their failure to counter unsubstantiated war crimes allegations.

The US move, unless countered, could be far worse than the Canadian declaration of Tamil Genocide Remembrance Day on May 18 and sanctions on former Presidents, Mahinda Rajapaksa and Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

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