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SJB urges Cardinal to take up Easter Sunday issue in Geneva



By Saman Indrajith

Chief Opposition Whip and SJB Kandy District MP Lakshman Kiriella yesterday said that no one was happy with the way the government was investigating the Easter Sunday terror attacks.

Addressing the media at the Opposition Leader’s office in Colombo, Kiriella said that there was nothing wrong with Colombo Archbishop Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith contemplating going before the international community against the way the government was carrying out investigations into the Easter Sunday carnage.

“The Cardinal, the victims and we, in the Opposition, are calling for only one thing – that is the government should implement the recommendations of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry on the Easter Sunday carnage. The government should implement the recommendations of the final report of the presidential commission on the Easter Sunday attacks. Several international conferences are due to discuss resolutions against Sri Lanka. The current session of the UN Human Rights Council Geneva got underway yesterday (12) and the UN General Assembly sessions will be held in New York on Sept. 21.  The results of these forums would be detrimental to our national interests if the government keeps bungling in this manner.

“It is incumbent Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa the one who internationalised Sri Lanka’s domestic issues in 1989. He went before the Geneva Human Rights Council with a list of names of disappeared persons. Since then this has become the norm for anyone who is not happy with the actions of any government to prevent human rights violations to go there. The UN Human Rights Council is at the disposal of any person or organisation that has exhausted all means in this country to get justice done. Even other countries could complain to that Council if they think Sri Lanka does not comply with human rights conventions that it has become a party to. So, there is nothing wrong with the Cardinal taking the issue of the Easter Sunday carnage to Geneva because the government is not dispensing justice.”

The Chief Opposition Whip said that people had been waiting for two and half years to see the government taking action against those who are responsible for the Easter Sunday terror attacks. “The Cardinal’s complaint is that justice has not been served. There is a serious allegation that justice is served selectively. It prosecutes only those who are opposed to the government. When legal action is taken against anyone in the government’s good books, the prosecution fails or makes errors in the judicial process so that the judges have no option but to give their rulings in favour of the culprits. A judge has to make his or her decision on the basis of evidence placed before him or her. When the prosecution fails deliberately to provide evidence, then justice is not done. So, the government could act against those who are opposed to them while safeguarding their friends.”

SJB MP Eran Wickremaratne also addressed the press.

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GL follows up Udaya’s initiative, negotiates concessionary crude oil supplies with UAE



Balance-of-payment crisis continues to stagger govt.

By Shamindra Ferdinando

The United Arab Emirates (UAD) has agreed to discuss a possible arrangement to provide Sri Lanka crude oil on concessionary terms in the face of the country experiencing a severe balance-of-payments crisis, according to the Foreign Ministry.

Foreign Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris took up the matter with UAE Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, on the sidelines of the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York. Prof. Peiris is on President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s delegation to the UNGA.

In late August, Energy Minister Udaya Gammanpila sought the intervention of the Acting Head of the UAE Embassy in Sri Lanka, Saif Alanofy. Minister Gammanpila also met the Iranian Ambassador in Colombo in a bid to explore the possibility of obtaining oil from Iran on concessionary arrangements.

The Foreign Ministry statement on Prof. Peiris meeting with the UAE Minister dealt with the financial crisis experienced by the country. “Foreign Minister Peiris explained the challenges Sri Lanka is experiencing in respect of its external budget, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Prof. Peiris focused in particular on the country’s requirement for oil and requested concessionary arrangements from the UAE.”

The Foreign Ministry quoted Minister Al Jaber as having said that the UAE would be happy to assist and proposed the establishment of a strategic framework to take the process forward.”

The ministry stressed that both sides agreed to follow-up rapidly.

Energy Minister Udaya Gammanpila earlier told The Island that concessionary arrangements were required to procure oil as part of an overall strategy to overcome the developing crisis.

Pivithuru Hela Urumaya (PHU) leader and Attorney-at-law Gammanpila said that increase in fuel prices in the second week of June this year was only a part of the government’s response to heavy pressure on foreign reserves. Minister Gammanpila said that the decision was taken close on the heels of dire warning from the Central Bank.

Minister Gammanpila said that in spite of foreign currency crisis, the government ensured an uninterrupted supply of fuel. According to him, Sri Lanka spent as much as USD 3.5 to 5 bn annually on oil imports depending on the world market prices.

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President attends 9/11 commemoration in NY



President Gotabaya Rajapaksa yesterday attended the special commemorative event near the Manhattan Memorial in the United States to mark the 20th anniversary of terrorist attacks in Washington and New York.

The terrorist attacks took place on September 11, 2001, targeting the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon, the headquarters of the United States Department of Defence.

Coinciding with the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism and the 9/11 Memorial Museum jointly organised the event. Other Heads of State and government representatives, who were in New York to attend the UN General Assembly, were also present at the event to pay tribute to those who lost their lives in those attacks.

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FSP calls on govt. allies not to pretend to oppose adverse deal with US firm



By Anuradha Hiripitiyage

Due to the secret agreement signed with US firm New Fortress Energy, Sri Lanka would soon face a situation akin to the one already faced by Ukraine, the Frontline Socialist Party (FSP) predicted yesterday.

“Sri Lanka is trying to reduce its dependency on coal and switch over to LNG. With this in mind, several coal and diesel power plants are to be converted into LNG in the coming decade. Now, we will entirely depend on the US to provide us with LNG to power these plants. Given that the US intends to control the seas in which Sri Lanka is placed strategically, they will not let us off the hook once they establish their foothold here. We are in deep trouble,” FSP Propaganda Secretary, Duminda Nagamuwa said.

Nagamuwa said that some constituents of the government were pretending that they opposed the transfer of government’s shares in the Yugadanavi Power Plant to New Fortress Energy. “But this is not the time for theatrics but for concrete action”, he said.

Nagamuwa said that the agreement between the government and US Company New Fortress Energy to construct a new offshore liquefied natural gas (LNG) receiving, storage and regasification terminal at Kerawalapitiya as well as the transfer of government’s shares in the Yugadanavi Power Plant had to be scrapped.

“Even government ministers agree that the agreement was not discussed with them. Several affiliates of the government are trying to convince the people that they are fighting this decision from inside. However, past experience has shown that when push comes to shove they will stay with the government. They must show the leaders of the government that they are not puppets,” he said.

Nagamuwa said that if those affiliated to the government were serious in their opposition to undermining Sri Lanka’s energy security they should show their commitment by doing something concrete.

The Yugadanavi Power Station at Kerawalapitiya already produced 300 MWs of energy and there was a plan to build another 350 MW plant there. The US Company had now been allowed to build an offshore LNG receiving, storage, and regasification terminal and to provide LNG to the existing Power Station and the new 350 MW power plant to be built, he said.

“Now we are under the power of the US. We will soon be facing the plight of Ukraine,” he said.

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