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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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Appointment of ministers advanced; govt. to abide by 19A, restrict number to 30



Defence portfolio to remain unassigned

By Shamindra Ferdinando

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has advanced the swearing in of the cabinet of ministers to Wednesday (12). Earlier, the swearing in was to take place at Dalada Maligawa on Friday (14). The venue remains the same.

Sources told The Island that the government would abide by the 19th Amendment to the Constitution enacted in early 2015 until a new Constitution could be introduced or shortcomings in the current one rectified.

The SLPP has won 145 seats. Besides the SLFP, several smaller parties which secured seats back the government.

The UNP and the UPFA got together to form a national government in 2015 to appoint more than 30 Cabinet ministers.

The new government could appoint 30 ministers in addition to the President, who is the head of the Cabinet. The lion’s share of ministries would be shared among the SLPP members while the National Freedom Front (NFF), the Pivithuru Hela Urumaya (PHU), the MEP, the SLFP, etc., would receive the remaining slots. The EPDP, which contested the

Aug 5 election on its own, will receive a Cabinet portfolio; the CWC, which contested on the SLPP ticket, is entitled to one.

The Defence portfolio is unlikely to be assigned to anyone until a constitutional amendment is introduced to enable President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who is also the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces to hold that post.

President Rajapaksa refrained from assigning the defence portfolio when he appointed caretaker cabinet soon after his swearing in as the President, last November.

The 19th Amendment has deprived the President of the right to hold ministerial portfolios.


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Hasina calls MR over SLPP’s victory



Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Saturday congratulated Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa on the victory of ruling SLPP party in the Aug 5 elections.

In a message to Mahinda Rajapaksa, Sheikh Hasina said the victory of the ruling party is a reflection of the trust and confidence of the people of Sri Lanka in the present leadership of the country, said PM’s Press Secretary Ihsanul Karim.

She said Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have been working, based on their close relations on various issues of common interests like accelerating inter-country connectivity, containing terrorism and militancy as well as climate change.

Hasina described the living of a large number of Sri Lankans in Bangladesh as an example of excellent bilateral ties between Dhaka and Colombo.

In her message, the prime minister especially recalled her bilateral meeting with Mahinda Rajapaksa during his official visit to Bangladesh and exchange of views between the two countries in various international events to accelerate bilateral issues.

She said Dhaka has been working on to give the bilateral relations a stronger footing during the tenure of Mahindra Rajapaksa in the government.

Hasina said both Bangladesh and Sri Lanka will work together to establish peace, harmony and prosperity in South Asia.

The prime minister invited her Sri Lankan counterpart Rajapaksa to visit Bangladesh at his convenience.


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Amaratunga stakes claim for sole UNP National List slot



… if Ranil not interested

by Zacki Jabbar

The UNP leadership is scheduled to meet today to decide who should get the National List seat the party received at last week’s general election.

Senior UNPer John Amaratunga said yesterday that as number one on the party’s National List, he would stake a claim to the seat if leader Ranil Wickremesinghe was not interested.

All indications were that Wickremesinghe was not keen on being in the legislature at this juncture and would focus on restructuring the party, he noted.

Amaratunga recalled that he had served the UNP as a loyal member and been elected to Parliament over a period of four decades. “That is why, I was placed on top of the National List,” he added.

No one should forget the senior leadership’s contribution to the party through thick and thin, the veteran UNPer said, stressing that seniority had to be recognised and rewarded and gratitude practised if society as a whole was to evolve for the better.

Amaratunga hoped that the unfortunate recent past could be forgotten and the United National Party and the Samagi Jana Balawegaya came together at some point in time because there was hardly any difference in their policies and most importantly neither propagated racism as a means of capturing power.


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