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Welgama warns country heading towards military dictatorship



by Zacki Jabbar

Kumara Welgama who is contesting this week’s Parliamentary Polls on the SJB ticket, warns that it could be the last since the Rajapaksas have already set in motion the process of establishing a military dictatorship.

Addressing several meetings in the Kalutara electorate recently, Welgama recalled that he had warned prior to the last Presidential Election that Gotabaya’s grand plan was to establish military rule after hoodwinking the people at the polls. But there were those who doubted him then.

Now you can see it happening. The President has already appointed Special Task Forces packed with former military personnel who are not answerable to the Cabinet of Ministers and Parliament, he said lamenting that competent public officials specialized in various fields had been sidelined.

Advicing Ministers Dinesh Gunawardena and Vasudeva Nanayakkara, Welgama said that the Podujana Peramuna was a family party and asked them not to have much hope of advancing in the party hierarchy because only the Rajapaksas could rise to the top in that party.

The debt burden was rising and the economy going down the Gadarene slope. But, the government in its height of incompetence has printed well over Rs.200 billion foolishly thinking that it was the solution to the worsening crisis, he noted.

He said that the masses had been taken for a jolly good ride by Gotabaya, who made many bogus promises including 100,000 jobs for those not having passed the GCE Ordinary Level Examination, a Rs. 20,000 monthly stipend for graduates whose functions were never clearly outlined, dhal at Rs.65 and a tin of canned fish at Rs.100. But none of these promises were fulfilled, even though eight months has lapsed.

Don’t vote for the Rajapaksas and lose your hard fought democratic freedoms by making the same mistake again, he appealed.


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EC: HC judgment won’t bar Premalal from contesting



… former, present polls monitors differ

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Election Commission (EC) Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya yesterday (3) said that the recent Ratnapura High Court ruling, in respect of the 2015 January Kahawatte killing, wouldn’t bar SLPP candidate Premalal Jayasekera from contesting the parliamentary polls on August 5.

 Deshapriya said so when The Island asked for comment on the Ratnapura, High Court sentencing the SLPP candidate, along with two others, to death, over the killing of a person backing the then common candidate Maithripala Sirisena.

At the time of the incident, Jayasekera held the post of Deputy Minister in the SLFP-led UPFA government.

Deshapriya said that there had never been a similar case before though there had been cases of elected lawmakers being unseated after being found guilty by courts.

 “We’ll discuss the issue at hand after the election and decide what to do,” Deshapriya said, adding that there was no change in the status quo as a result of the Ratnapura HC ruling.

The EC consists of Mahinda Deshapriya, Prof. Ratnajeevan Hoole and Nalin Abeysekera, PC.

CMEV (Center for Monitoring Election Violence) spokesman Manjula Gajanayake told The Island that the top SLPP leadership should have considered all aspects before accommodating the former lawmaker on the Ratnapura nomination list. The SLPP could have easily avoided what Gajanayake called unnecessary complication by fielding another in place of Jayasekera, Gajanayake said. The polls monitor pointed out that the SLPP was aware that the Kahawatte case had been heard and the ruling was pending.

Responding to another query, Gajanayake said that the EC as well as political parties, especially those represented in parliament would have to address the issue.

Ratnapura District SLPP list comprises Vasudeva Nanayakkara (leader), Pavitradevi Wanniarachchi, Janaka Wakkumbura, John Seneviratne, Premalal Jayasekera, Dunesh Gankanda, Akila Ellawala, Sanee Rohana Kodituwakku,  Ranjith Bandara, Gamini Waleboda, Muditha Prishanthi, Hettiarachchige Lakshman Premaratne, Athula Kumara Rahubadda and Miyuru Bhashitha Liyanage. SLPP’s 14 candidates, include six former lawmakers. Of them, Dunesh Gankanda was elected from the Ratnapura district on the UNP ticket at the last parliamentary polls in August 2015.

 The SLPP should blame itself for the crisis, Gajanayake said.

 On Feb 26, 2019 four suspects who had been charged with killing of an individual in Kahawatta during the 2015 presidential polls campaign were acquitted and released by the High Court of Ratnapura. However, Jayasekera and two others remained as accused.

 Executive Director of PAFFREL (People’s Action for Free and Fair Election) Rohana Hettiarachchi told The Island that at the time Jayasekera received nomination he hadn’t been found guilty by High Court of Ratnapura. Therefore, there couldn’t be an issue in voters exercising their franchise for Jayasekera tomorrow, Hettiarachchi said. However, the EC would have to seek legal advice before Jayasekera received oaths as a member of parliament. 

 The police arrested Jayasekera in the Beruwela police area while he was hiding after the high profile Kahawatte killing.

 CaFFE (Campaign for Free and Fair Elections) head Ahamed Manas Makeen told The Island that the electorate should exercise their franchise for those who had clean records. Those who abused women and children or encouraged such practices, bribery and corruption and engaged or promoted violence or extremism shouldn’t be encouraged. Makeen said that the CaFFE stand was relevant to all districts not only Ratnapura where a candidate was sentenced to death.

 However Makeen’s predecessor, Rajith Keerthi Tennakoon, in a letter dated Aug 2 addressed to the EC, on behalf of the Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) said that in terms of the Article 89 of the Constitution a convicted murderer is automatically deprived of the right to exercise his franchise. Therefore, Jayasekera couldn’t vote at tomorrow’s general election, Tennakoon said, pointing out that in terms of Article 91 of the Constitution, a person disqualified to vote at the general election couldn’t contest. Tennakoon urged the EC to advice the Returning Officer of Ratnapura accordingly without delay.

 Keerthi functions as the SJB representative at the EC.

 SLPP Chairman Prof. G.L. Peiris said that they were watching the situation.


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Police initially believed in what Sampayo told them about Negombo Prison



Image grabbed from video footage of Sampayo speaking to the media on Sunday at Kurunegala

by Norman Palihawadane

The Negombo Police, probing the alleged links between prison officials and inmates serving time there for drug offences, said that there had been numerous complaints about drug cartels operating from the Negombo Prison but former Superintendent (SP) of the Negombo Prison, Anuruddha Sampayo, always told them that there were no such rackets.

SP Sampayo was of the opinion that some elements were spreading such stories to tarnish the good name of officers attached to the Negombo prison.

Sampayo, who was evading arrest after being issued warrants, surrendered, on Sunday

Following directions of the Attorney General, the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) on July 22 obtained arrest warrants, from the Negombo Magistrate, on Sampayo and three other officials of the Negombo Prison .

Sampayo is the first suspect in the case filed over committing irregularities in the Negombo Prison. The three other suspects in the case – Chief Jailor of the Prison Upali Sarath Bandara, Second Tier Jailer Nishantha Senaratne and Jailer Prasad Kalinga Kaluaggala – surrendered to the police earlier and they were remanded until Aug 04 by the court.

Police Media Spokesman Senior Superintendent of Police Jaliya Senaratne said Sampayo had been handed over to the Criminal Investigation Department after recording a statement.


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President says he will build people-centric economy



President Gotabaya Rajapaksa says he will build a people-centric economy. The government’s goal, he says, is to create a national economy that would help the local entrepreneurs, instead of selling national resources and country’s assets to foreigners.

Rajapaksa says it is important to come to terms with the harsh economic reality due to the COVID-19 pandemic and economically empower the people instead of talking about the cost of living.

The President made these remarks at rallies he attended in support of the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna in the Hambantota District on Sunday (August 02).

The President attended a meeting at the Mahinda Rajapaksa Shopping Complex, Middeniya, and inquired from the public about their needs. The gathering was organised by the SLPP candidate Kapila Dissanayake. In response to a request for repairs to the roof of a building in Middeniya Maha Vidyalaya, the President ordered the Army Commander to look into the matter immediately.

The President also heeded a request by the public to develop the Middeniya Hospital.

Maha Sangha present at the public rally in Walasmulla Public Playground requested the President to carve out a Pradheshiya Sabha area for Walasmulla. The rally was organised by the SLPP candidate Lionel Subasinghe.

Some issues pertaining to the Walasmulla Hospital, bus stand and market were brought to the President’s notice. People requested the President to convert a school closed down in the Yahamulla, area for want of students, into a factory.

President Rajapaksa was warmly welcomed at a public rally near the Beliatta Pradheshiya Sabha organised by the SLPP candidate Namal Rajapaksa.

The President also attended a public rally, organized by candidates Namal Rajapaksa and D.V. Chanaka, near the Tangalle Municipal Council, and inquired from the crowd about their needs.

That was the last public gathering President Rajapaksa attended in the country-wide election campaign in support of the SLPP candidates, contesting tomorrow’s general election.


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