Calm political security climate bodes well for Côte dIvoire polls Ban says

28 October 2010The current security and political calm bodes well for this weekend’s long-awaited presidential election in Côte d’Ivoire, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says in a new report, underlining the need for the polls to take place as scheduled. The current security and political calm bodes well for this weekend’s long-awaited presidential election in Côte d’Ivoire, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says in a new report, underlining the need for the polls to take place as scheduled.The elections, originally scheduled for as far back as 2005 and repeatedly postponed, constitute a major step in restoring stability after civil war split the West African nation into a Government-held south and a northern area dominated by the rebel Forces Nouvelles in 2002.The polls are now slated to be held on 31 October, followed by a second round on 28 November if there is no clear winner. In the report made public today, Mr. Ban writes that that the “positive and calm political and security climate engendered by the Ouagadougou Political Agreement [the 2007 blueprint for political reconciliation] and the spirit of compromise and consensus that has brought Côte d’Ivoire thus far are encouraging and bode well for the elections.”He calls the establishment of a final voters list a “major breakthrough” in the country’s peace process. “It not only makes the holding of elections possible, but it will also allow millions of Ivorians to receive identity cards, thus addressing the identification issue, which has been at the centre of the Ivorian crisis.”But he voices concern over reports that militia groups are threatening to disrupt the electoral process, pledging the support of the UN peacekeeping mission, known as UNOCI, to put the necessary security arrangements into place and prevent the undermining of the polls.The mission, set up in 2004 to monitor a ceasefire and to help bring stability to Côte d’Ivoire, has flown in hundreds of additional soldiers to reinforce its 8,650 troops already there.Y. J. Choi, Mr. Ban’s Special Representative, told reporters in Côte d’Ivoire’s largest city, Abidjan, today that the polls will be held on Sunday, thanks to a strong electoral dynamic.With 72 hours left before the polls, he voiced confidence that the process will go smoothly, noting that measures have been taken to resolve logistical challenges such as those related to the distribution of identification cards. He added that the recruitment and deployment of 60,000 electoral officers is continuing.To date, the IEC and the UN have transported nearly 12 million cards to nearly all of the polling stations, with the final phase of delivering all sensitive materials, including ballot papers and report forms, beginning tomorrow. The Special Representative said that he is convinced that voting will be peaceful and orderly, with the IEC, supported by national and international observers, ensuring that the elections are credible.“There is no doubt that all the parties and the candidates will accept the proclaimed and certified results,” the official said.He also emphasized that the counting of votes will be transparent. “Everyone agrees that the manual counting will be done in each polling station and it is up to the IEC to decide on the means of electronic transmission from the local commissions to Abidjan…“All the parties will be present and the tabulation will also be done with total transparency,” he stressed.Cote read more

Ban commends Liberians for holding free and fair presidential election

He deplored the violence which took place the day before the poll, which was held on 8 November, and welcomed the creation of a Special Independent Commission of Inquiry to investigate the incident.“The Secretary-General calls upon the Liberian stakeholders to accept the outcome of the elections and to work together to resolve any outstanding issues,” said a statement issued by his spokesperson. “He emphasizes the importance of a continued dialogue on national reconciliation.”Liberia’s National Electoral Commission declared incumbent President Johnson Sirleaf the winner of the run-off poll after garnering more than 90 per cent of the vote, while her challenger, Winston Tubman, withdrew from the second round alleging that the first was not fair.Ms. Johnson Sirleaf told UN Radio in an interview last Thursday that Mr. Tubman had the right to challenge the elections results, but that she was certain that the results would stand because they met the requirement of the country’s constitution and elections laws. 16 November 2011Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today congratulated the people of Liberia for exercising their right to vote in the presidential run-off election earlier this month and commended the country’s authorities for conducting free, fair and transparent elections. read more

Ford Canada inching closer to title of Canadas bestselling automaker for 2012

The Canadian auto industry has seen incredible growth in 2012, and we are pleased that Ford of Canada has outpaced it in NovemberTORONTO — Ford Canada is on the road to taking the title of Canada’s best-selling automaker this year, after reporting its best November in more than a decade and taking first place for sales for another month.The Oakville, Ont.-based subsidiary of one of Detroit’s big three automakers said Monday that its November sales rose to 19,447, up 7.4% from a year ago, marking its best November since 2001.That was about 2,400 more units than at Chrysler Canada, which had its best November since 2000.Ford’s Canadian car sales rose 14%, while truck sales were up 6%.“November was a record-breaking month for Ford of Canada,” said Dianne Craig, president and CEO at Ford of Canada.“The Canadian auto industry has seen incredible growth in 2012, and we are pleased that Ford of Canada has outpaced it in November.”For the first 11 months of 2012, Ford’s sales rose 1% to 259,194 vehicles from 256,597 in 2011.The Ford Focus car had its best November since 2003 with a 37% rise.Sales of the Ford Transit Connect cross-over vehicle were up 93% and sales of the Ford Escape sport-utility vehicle were up 47%. Both vehicles had their best November on record.The Canadian built Ford Edge, Flex and Lincoln MKT saw increases of 21%, 25% and 34%, respectively.Meanwhile, rival Chrysler Canada said it sold 17,013 vehicles in Canada last month, up five% from November 2011, when the company sold 16,244.Chrysler said the increase helped it post its longest growth streak in its history at 36 consecutive months of year-over-year sales growth. Chrysler also called it the best start to a year through 11 months since 2000.Passenger car sales improved to 2,802 cars sold for the month, up from 1,909 sold in the same month, one year ago.Total truck sales dipped to 14,211 compared with 14,335 in November 2011.Japanese automaker Toyota Canada said November sales of 14,512 Toyota, Lexus and Scion vehicles fell just slightly from 14,563 sold last November. However, year-to-date Toyota sales are up 21.1% from last year, when the company was struggling to pump out supply after Japan’s devastating tsunami in March.The company said sales of its trucks, of Lexus vehicles and hybrids all had record months.Fellow Japanese carmarker Hyundai Auto Canada Corp. said year-over-year sales grew 20% to 10,101 units for the best November in its history. Hyundai has sold 128,420 vehicles in Canada year-to-date, a gain of 4.6% over the first 11 months of last year.Kia Canada reported its best November ever with sales up to 5,719 vehicles, a 17.8% year-over-year increase. For the first 11 months of the year, sales are up 19.7%.In the U.S., carmakers from Chrysler to Volkswagen reported brisk demand in November, and said sales rose on everything from small SUVs to sedans.November sales, when calculated on an annual basis, are likely to be 15 million or more, the highest rate since March of 2008, according to LMC Automotive, a Detroit-area industry consulting firm.That’s higher than the 14.3 million annual rate so far this year, even though November is normally a lacklustre month due to cold weather and holiday anticipation.The Canadian Press read more

Closing Bell Mining stocks boost TSX US markets up modestly amid glum

TORONTO — The Toronto stock market erased early losses to close higher Friday as investors bought into beaten-down mining stocks.The S&P/TSX composite index closed 67.56 points higher at 15,625.73.The Canadian dollar was down 0.22 of a cent at 91.97 cents US amid data that also showed stronger than expected Canadian economic growth.Statistics Canada reported gross domestic product ran up at an annual rate of 3.1% in the second quarter, higher than the 2.7% read that economists had expected. First-quarter growth, which was affected by a severe winter, was revised downward to a gain of 0.9% compared with an earlier reading of 1.2%.On a monthly basis, GDP climbed 0.3% in June versus the 0.2% rise that had been forecast.U.S. indexes were modestly higher while traders played it cautious going into the long Labour Day weekend amid fears of a wider Russian incursion into Ukraine and a big letdown in U.S. consumer spending data.The Dow Jones industrials climbed 18.88 points to 17,098.45 as other data showed consumer spending dropped 0.1% last month, against the gain of 0.3% that generally had been expected, with weakness most pronounced in the auto sector.The Nasdaq ran ahead 22.57 points to 4,580.27 and the S&P 500 index was up 6.63 points to 2,003.37.Other data showed a sharp uptick in manufacturing activity in the American Midwest. The Chicago Purchasing Managers Index surged to 64.3 in August from 56.5 in July.Investors watched the Ukraine conflict for signs of further escalation after the country’s president said that Russian forces had entered the southeastern part of the country, which had largely escaped earlier fighting between Ukraine forces and pro-Russian militias.European Union foreign ministers met Friday to weigh adopting a tougher stance on the Ukraine crisis amid increasing calls to beef up economic sanctions against Russia.The tepid market performance Friday also comes at a time when indexes are close to record highs, raising questions about what is needed to push markets even higher.“It’s a common thing, eventually, the markets fully price in everything,” observed Colin Cieszynski, senior markets analyst at CMC Markets Canada.Toronto and New York markets both gained ground this past week. The Dow industrials posted a 97- points or 0.57% advance, while the TSX gained 90 points or 0.6%, led by consumer staples, industrials and telecoms. But the TSX was held back by the financial sector, down 1.15% this week despite a steady parade of earnings news from the big Canadian banks that largely beat expectations.Stock prices for the big banks are or near record or 52-week highs as the results started to come out a week ago and the financial sector is still up 11% year to date.“There was nothing wrong with the earnings reports, they were fine,” Cieszynski said.“But because expectations were running so high, people just used it as an excuse to take profits again. But they’ll be back.” The financial sector erased early losses to move ahead 0.26%.Resource sectors provided lift with the gold sector ahead about 1.56% while December gold backed off $3 to US$1,287.40 an ounce.The energy sector rose 1.07% as October crude in New York gained $1.15 to US$95.70 a barrel.December copper gained one cent to US$3.16 a pound and the battered base metals component, down six% this month, gained 0.3%. read more

TSX closes in the red for third straight session

TORONTO — The Toronto Stock Exchange closed lower for the third straight session on Tuesday as investors direct their attention back to the fundamentals of the Canadian market.The S&P/TSX composite index lost 49.31 points to close at 14,376.24 after starting the day in the black.Allan Small, senior investment adviser at Holliswealth, said the markets had been positive following the resolution of the latest outbreak in the Greek debt crisis as well as last week’s rate cut from the Bank of Canada.With those headline-grabbing developments out of the way, he said, investors are turning back to look at the realities of the market and aren’t liking what they see.“We had our rally, and now we’re concentrating on other areas of the market,” he said. “And right now in Canada those other areas are struggling.” In the U.S., the Dow Jones industrial average plunged 181.12 points to 17,919.29, while the Nasdaq fell 10.74 points to 5,208.12. The S&P 500 lost 9.07 points to close at 2,119.21.The Canadian dollar was up 0.29 of a cent to 77.23 cents US.Small said the increase was the result of day-to-day volatility rather than any sign that the sliding loonie had reached bottom.“The direction of our dollar is definitely down,” he said. “I’d be surprised if we see a big run-up in the dollar now.”The Canadian dollar could fall even further against the greenback, Small said, and will remain weak for the near future as Canada looks to grow.“How long it will stay that way remains to be seen,” he said. “I think it’s dependent on how long it takes our economy to bounce back from a negative first half.”Economists and analysts have suggested that Canada is in a technical recession, defined as two consecutive quarters of negative growth, although final second-quarter numbers have not been released.Small said the prospect of an interest-rate hike from the American central bank this fall is the biggest driver for the Canadian dollar’s value. “Our dollar is going to trade more on what the U.S. does than what we do here in our country,” he said.On the commodities markets, the September contract for crude oil closed up 42 cents to US$50.86, while the August contract for natural gas climbed 5.9 cents to US$2.882.The August contract for gold ended the day down US$3.50 to US$1,103.50 per ounce.Small noted that gold has become much less important as a safe-haven commodity as global markets have equalized following the volatility of the 2008 downturn, when gold’s value spiked.“I really don’t see a catalyst for gold to go any higher,” Small said.The September contract for copper closed at US$2.47, down 0.7 of a US cent.The Canadian Press read more

Pokémon Go fever comes to Canadian businesses as they try to capitalize

“It’s a statement of what your brand is, who it stands for and who it seeks to appeal to,” said Wong, who is with the Stephen J.R. Smith School of Business at Queen’s University.“While it may generate traffic for you, whether or not that traffic generates profitability in the short, and more importantly, long term is a different story. If you’re in a business that needs a promotion to stay in business, you’re already on a slippery slope.”Wong said the publicity stunt would mostly profit businesses that appeal to the biggest demographic of Pokémon GO players or have a link to the game — for example, stores that sell cellphone accessories or comic books.There may be a potential to grow business in the short term, but he doesn’t see that enduring.“Eventually the novelty will wear off. There will always be diehards but it’s no different than the Trivial Pursuit craze,” he said.“If you are the right kind of business, get in as soon as you can when the fad has the greatest duration of effect, because if you wait too long, the fad will be over.”In Toronto, Peter Coulter set up a chalkboard sign Monday outside his optical store featuring a promotion offering passersby a free glasses cleaning if they can capture a Pokémon creature inside.Although he says he hasn’t seen any direct sales from the sign, he stands behind it.“It’s quite the phenomenon,” said the manager of Optical Thirty 8. “The sign was just something catchy to encourage people to come in and use their phones so we can show them some of our services and at the same time, maybe they’ll buy some new glasses.”The Canadian Press TORONTO — The Pokémon GO sign directing people to the front door of Rock Candy Boutique in Halifax has only been up for a week, but Jeff Powers says he is already seeing it pay off.“Downtown is alive in a way that I haven’t seen in a long, long time,” said Powers, a manager at the store, which sells various rock music T-shirts, hoodies, hats and other paraphernalia.“There is just a flood from everybody, from young kids to older adults, and you can tell they’re playing this game.”That would be Pokémon GO, which officially launched in Canada on Sunday. The wildly popular video game sends players on a quest to find superimposed animated characters on a map-like interface using the camera on their smartphones. It is currently the most downloaded app in the Apple app store.Nintendo’s market cap doubles to US$42 billion as Pokemon GO craze goes globalPokémon GO , the global phenomenon that has people hunting outside for monsters, explainedPowers said Tuesday the sign has brought people into the store who wouldn’t normally shop there but hear it’s a good place to play the augmented reality video game.“This has just blown up bigger than anybody has expected,” he said, adding that the various Pokémon merchandise the store carries have also been flying off the shelves.“It leads people to travel down streets they normally wouldn’t. It’s bringing a lot of foot traffic down to the side streets and a lot of people are coming in and buying things because they were just in the area.”Some Canadian businesses have been jumping on the craze by actively encouraging potential customers to use their shops as PokéStops or Pokémon gyms — locations to play the game.But marketing professor Ken Wong cautioned that although it may seem like a no-brainer for businesses to capitalize on Pokémon GO’s popularity, it can also backfire.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston read more

Mannar Bishop questioned by the CID

Bishop Rayappu Joseph of the diocese of Mannar has been questioned by the CID about a statement made by him over the issue of deportation of asylum seekers, by the Australian government, the Christian Solidarity Movement (CSM) said in a statement.This is not the first time that the Bishop has been interrogated by the CID. CSM says according to the information it received the Bishop has been questioned regarding connections with the Tamil Diaspora. “We as the Christian Solidarity Movement are proud to see him as a rare and extraordinary leader who is faithfully fulfilling his Christian mission by boldly speaking on behalf of the suffering Tamil people. Bishop Rayappu Joseph has always spoken about the current problems faced by his people and denounced some of the barbaric acts against the innocent,” the CSM statement said. “Linking any voice whether in the North or even in the South raised on Justice and Democracy and any attempt made to denounce the undemocratic rule, with the LTTE or Tamil Diaspora, is to silence the courageous voices,” the statement said.The statement adds that the questioning of Bishop Rayappu Joseph for long hours is a sign of intimidation to silence the Tamil voice. (Colombo Gazette) read more

Jayalalithaa warns against arresting fishermen

“I am deeply anguished to bring to your notice the repeated onslaughts of the Sri Lankan Navy on innocent Tamil Nadu fishermen who eke out their livelihood by fishing in their traditional fishing grounds in the Indian Ocean,” Jayalalithaa said in a letter to Singh. The Indian media quoted Jayalalithaa as demanding for their release and warning that such incidents could escalate the tension between the two countries, besides creating “unrest” amongst the fishermen community. “Nineteen fishermen of Rameswaram have been in judicial custody in Sri Lanka since March 13, apart from five, languishing in jails there since more than a year and yet another incident of arrest of 30 fishermen has taken place yesterday,” the Chief Minister said in her letter, the copies of which were released to the Indian media last night.“I also wish to reiterate that the acts of arrest and harassment of Tamil Nadu fishermen should be viewed as acts of provocation and aggression against India by Sri Lanka,” she added. Referring to the arrest of 30 fishermen by Sri Lankan Navy yesterday and the subsequent outcry it has generated, she urged Singh to impress upon that country’s government to take effective steps to prevent the recurrence of such incidents of arrest or harassment of the state’s fishermen in the future.Jayalalithaa, who sought to link the increased instances of arrest of fishermen from her state to the escalated protests in Tamil Nadu over the Sri Lankan Tamils issue, alleged that the neighbouring country has now resorted to such arrests and holding the fishers in its jails. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa has told Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Sing to impress upon Sri Lanka not to arrest Indian fishermen who stray into Sri Lankan waters.Over 50 Indian fishermen were arrested over the weekend and have been remanded by court after they were caught poaching in Sri Lankan waters in two separate incidents. read more

Army turns down Indian offer

The army spokesman said that the Sri Lankan authorities, whilst appreciating the offer, declined to accept it as it was observed that the HDMC was not in line with the initial purpose of sending the two officers for training in India.“Moreover, a higher course with an entirely different scope would neither benefit the officers nor the Sri Lankan Armed Forces in immediate future employment of these officers.  Hence, the Sri Lankan Government made a request to withdraw the two officers from DSSC course and accordingly they returned to the island this morning,” he said. The Higher Defence Management Course normally followed by senior officers in the rank of Colonel is a higher course in scope. The army says it had turned down an offer by India to train two Sri Lankan officers at another location as opposed to the Defence Services Staff Course (DSSC) in Wellington, Tamil Nadu.The two officers who were following the Defence Services Staff Course (DSSC) in Wellington, India returned to the island today (Tuesday) prematurely following stiff opposition in Tamil Nadu to the training given to them. However he reiterated that the withdrawal does not in any way hamper the growing relationship and training partnership between the Armed Forces of India and Sri Lanka.He said that the Indian Armed Forces are key partners in the professional career development of officers, soldiers, sailors and airmen of the Sri Lanka Armed Forces.  (Colombo Gazette) Army spokesman Brigadier Ruwan Wanigasooriya said that due to some security concerns the Indian Government had offered to transfer the two officers from DSSC Wellington to the Higher Defence Management Course (HDMC) in the College of Defence Management, Secundrabad in Andhra Pradesh. read more

Australia insists ties with Lanka strong

“Australia and Sri Lanka have and will continue to work closely to detect, disrupt and return people smuggling ventures and combat other transnational crimes,” Dutton said.Former President Mahinda Rajapakse was known to have had a very close relationship with Australia which resulted in Australia supporting Sri Lanka against international pressure on the human rights issue. (Colombo Gazette) However Dutton said that on the contrary he was warmly welcomed by the Prime Minister and they had discussed deepening and expanding its ties in various fields including on the people smuggling issue.Hundreds of Sri Lankan had fled to Australia by boat during the country’s 30 year civil conflict but the numbers reduced following coordinated efforts between the two countries. Dutton, the first Australian Minister to visit Sri Lanka since the January 8 Presidential Election had met Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and discussed ties between both countries. Wickremesinghe had earlier been quoted in some media as saying that he will not warmly welcome the Australian Minister as Australia had very strong ties with the former Sri Lankan government. The Australian government today said that its relationship with Sri Lanka has not changed despite a new government taking office in January this year.Australia’s Immigration Minister Peter Dutton who just concluded an official visit to Sri Lanka said that Sri Lanka and Australia will continue to coordinate in fighting human smuggling. read more

Elections chief to write to political parties

He said that over the next week the Department will communicate with the political parties which will contest the polls and also confirm the symbols to be used. He also said that elections laws will be implemented strictly to ensure a free and fair election.The Elections Commissioner said that political parties and candidates contesting the polls will be asked not to use the National flag or religious flags when campaigning.He also said that the campaign office of one political party contesting the election cannot be used to promote another political party also contesting the election. The Elections Commissioner said that there are 64 registered political parties in Sri Lanka.However he says there are issues over the secretaries of 4 political parties which need to be rectified soon if those parties are to contest the August election. Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya says he will be writing to all the registered political parties seeking clarity on who will be contesting the August 17 Parliament elections.Deshapriya told reporters today that the Department of Elections has been given the minimum number of days to prepare for the Parliament elections. He said that strict regulations will also be in place for state media on election coverage while private media will be requested to also fall in line with those regulations. (Colombo Gazette) The use of loud speakers will also be limited to only within the venue of the election related meeting or rally during the campaign period. But he said the Department will prepare for the election within the time it has in hand and ensure everything is in place by election day. read more

China and Sri Lanka discuss port city project

The State Ministry of National Policy and Economic Affairs said that future investment opportunities for China in Sri Lanka was also discussed at the meeting. Deputy Minister of National Policy and Economic Affairs Niroshan Perera is to brief Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on the outcome of the talks.Perera said that Sri Lanka’s foreign policy is strong and equal when dealing with all countries and the visit by the Chinese delegation was a testimony to this. (Colombo Gazette) However the focus of the talks was on the port city project as well as the Hambantota port constructed with Chinese assistance.Both sides also had talks on new highway projects in Sri Lanka, the State Ministry of National Policy and Economic Affairs said. The Chinese delegation led by Yang Weiqun, director of the department of Asian affairs at the Chinese Commerce Ministry, is in Sri Lanka on an official visit. China and Sri Lanka had discussions today on the Colombo port city project and other Chinese funded projects in Sri Lanka.The talks took place between a visiting Chinese delegation and Deputy Minister of National Policy and Economic Affairs Niroshan Perera. read more

Ex PM makes emotional appeal to MS MR and CBK

Former Prime Minister D M Jayaratne today made an emotional appeal to President Maithripala Sirisena, former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and former President Chandrika Kumaratunga to take measures to ensure the Sri Lanka Freedom Party does not split.Speaking at an event in Kandy today, Jayaratne said that he feels very sad at what is taking place within the SLFP. “I am still attempting to unite these three leaders,” Jayaratne said.Jayaratne said that if the three leaders unite then the SLFP can easily win an election at any time. Jayaratne, who was Prime Minister under Rajapaksa, said that he feels outside influence has resulted in attempts to split the party. He said that he personally met President Maithripala Sirisena and the two former President’s and appealed to them to protect the SLFP. He said that so many SLFP supporters have urged him to unite the party and he will continue to make that effort.The former Prime Minister said that he knows he will not live long but his love for the party will never die. (Colombo Gazette) read more

IUSF convener remanded for violating bail conditions

The Colombo Fort Magistrate today ordered the convener of the Inter-University Students’ Federation (IUSF) Lahiru Weerasekara to be remanded till February 9.Lahiru Weerasekara was arrested and remanded for violating a condition imposed when he was granted bail over an earlier case. (Colombo Gazette)

Ministries told not to issue separate statements

President Sirisena issued the instructions when asked today about a compensation package announced by the Finance Ministry.The President said the statement was wrong and he urged Ministries not to issue separate statements which could mislead the public. (Colombo Gazette) President Maithripala Sirisena today instructed Ministries not to issue separate statements on Meethotamulla.The President issued the instructions after an erroneous statement was issued on the compensation to be offered for the victims.

Harsha Eran Ranjan Karu Vasantha Yapa get new portfolios

Several Deputy Ministers were reshuffled by President Maithripala Sirisena at the Presidential Secretaries today.Former Deputy Foreign Minister Dr. Harsha de Silva was appointed as the new Deputy Minister for National Policies and Economic Affairs, Ranjan Ramanayake as the new Deputy Minister of Social Empowerment, Welfare and Kandyan Heritage, Karunarathna Paranawithana as the Deputy Minister of Skills Development and Vocational Training and Palitha Range Bandara as the Deputy Minister of Irrigation. Vasantha Senanayake was appointed as the new State Minister of Foreign Affairs and Lakshman Yapa as the State Minister of Public Enterprise Development. (Colombo Gazette) Lasantha Alagiyawanna was appointed as the new Deputy Finance Minister and Deputy Minister of Mass Media. Eran Wickremeratne took oaths as the new State Minister of Finance. read more

Sri Lanka stops visas for Myanmar nationals following Rohingya crisis

The Government fears that some Rohingya Muslims who have already sought refuge in India may look to enter Sri Lanka fearing deportation from India. In April, the coast guard detained 32 Rohingya Muslims who fled India by boat. The boat was detained in the Northern seas and was brought ashore to Kankesanthurai (KKS).There were seven women and 16 children below the age of nine, including a 15-day-old and four month old children on the boat. He said that Rohingya Muslims may visit Sri Lanka as tourists and then seek refuge. The Government has decided to suspend issuing visas for tourists from Myanmar following fears that Rohingya Muslims may attempt to enter Sri Lanka to seek refuge.Minister of Internal Affairs S. B. Navinna has told The Sunday Leader that the decision to suspend issuing visas to Myanmar nationals was taken as a result of the crisis in that country. More than 1 million Rohingya live in apartheid-like conditions in Myanmar‘s Rakhine State, where many in the Buddhist majority consider them interlopers from Bangladesh.Thousands of Rohingya Muslims have fled their homes in Rakhine state after the government intensified ‘clearance operations’ following an attack by Rohingya militants on border posts, in which 12 security officials were killed.Report by Indika Sri Aravinda read more

OIC expresses concerns over antiMuslim assaults in Ampara

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) expressed deep concerns at the reports of the heavily tense situation after a mosque, several hotels and vehicles belonging to Muslims in Ampara were attacked by mobs leading to major tensions in the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka.While expressing its concern, the OIC stresses the need to protect the rights of the Muslim minority, foremost of which is the right to observe their religious practices without harassment or any direct or indirect breaches and to earn their livelihoods and conduct their business under full protection of the law. In this context, the OIC Secretary General called on the Government of Sri Lanka to proceed expeditiously with an investigation of such abuses and to ensure the safety and security of the Muslim minority ile practicing their religious rights in accordance with all relevant international human rights conventions and instruments. (Colombo Gazette) read more

President tells Parliament he ordered terrorists to be destroyed

He said that among them are 12 terrorists.The President, who is the Defence and Law and Order Minister, said that 13 safe houses used by the terror group have also been found. President Maithripala Sirisena says he had instructed the security forces to “destroy” the terrorists linked to the Easter Sunday attacks.Speaking in Parliament today the President said that the security forces have successfully contained the threat posed to Sri Lanka by the terrorist network. “I have told the security forces to destroy all those connected to this attack. Some might criticize me for making this statement but that is my opinion,” he said. The President said that 56 suspects linked to the April 21st attacks are now in custody. He also said that several explosives have also been seized and 41 bank accounts used by the terror network have been identified.The President also said that 15 vehicles used by the terror network have been taken into custody. (Colombo Gazette) read more