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SLFP to re-think role in ruling alliance says party secy.



“Things are heating up…..problems are piling”

ECONOMYNEXT – The public is losing confidence in the government and its coalition partner, the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) may soon have to take a call on whether or not to go it alone at the upcoming provincial council elections, a party senior said.

SLFP Vice President Prof Rohana Lakshman Piyadasa told EconomyNext that the SLFP has yet to decide whether to contest the PC polls as a partner of the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP)-led alliance.

With the national New Year approaching, Piyadasa said, “things are heating up” in the country as the prices of goods continue to rise.

“Then there is the coconut oil issue and the sugar issue. Coconut oil is something that is fundamental to Avurudu celebrations. Problems are piling up, not easing,” he said.

Piyadasa was referring to a controversy surrounding imported coconut oil that is allegedly contaminated with high levels of aflatoxin, a carcinogenic substance, as well as the so-called sugar scam which opposition parties claim has cost the country Rs 15.9 billion in tax revenue.

SLFP leader and former President Maithripala Sirisena has made it clear that the party wishes to form an SLFP government in the future, said Piyadsa.

“We are working towards that end,” he said.

On March 18, Piyadasa told EconomyNext that that the SLFP party rank and file have raised concerns about broken promises within the alliance.

“Our Urban Council members at the grassroots level weren’t given money to do their council work. They couldn’t even put up a lamp-post. So there is huge pressure from the lower levels of the party,” he said.

“We have to do something about this immediately. We cannot go on like this,” he added.

The party is currently accepting nomination papers for the provincial council polls. The deadline for applications has been extended to April 15 after which, he said, the party will start organizing in all districts.

“The cabinet has said elections should be held, but we still don’t know what under what law they plan to hold the election.”

Last month, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said the PC polls must be held soon either under the previous Provincial Councils Elections Act or under the proposed new (Amendment) Act with its “complications” removed.

The presidential secretariat quoted Rajapaksa as saying the Amended Provincial Councils Act which included a new delimitation of the constituencies, a quota for women candidates and other changes “had been defeated by the former government which proposed it.”

Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court determined that the PC polls can be held under either the old or new system but upon the amending legislation being passed. The Rajapaksa government has yet pass amendments to the (Amendment) Act to conduct the elections under the previous proportional representation system.

All nine provinces in Sri Lanka are currently being run by their respective governors following the end of their five-year terms at various points. The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) has also called for the early conduct of polls, a sentiment echoed by India. The provincial councils are a legacy of the Indo-Lanka accord signed in 1987.

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Six nabbed with over 100 kg of ‘Ice’



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



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



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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