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Sweet, aren't they? Two little girls, in the footsteps of their elders, prepare Kavum and Kokis for the new year in a traditional manner. Pic. by Gamini Abeysekera
The LTTE has imposed a ban on trade activities in areas in the northern Jaffna peninsula after the New Year in an obvious effort to pressurise civilians to leave the peninsula, civilian sources said.
The LTTE following its failed attempt to get the civilians to vacate the Vadamarachchi, Thenmarachchi, Point Pedro areas is now using the ploy to forcibly get the civilians out of these areas and attract them into the Kilinochchi district which the LTTE has declared as its capital.
Civilian sources arriving from the North said the LTTE has offered to transport goods of the traders and civilians from the peninsula to Kilinochchi in addition to other facilities offered in a bid to get them to leave the peninsula.
An LTTE call for civilians to vacate the Vadamarachchi and other areas on the grounds that the military was planning to carry out a major operation had been resisted by a section of the civilians who had been living in these areas for the past several years.
"The LTTE feels that by getting the traders to stop their business the civilians will have no alternative, but to leave the areas', one of the civilians said.
The LTTE had earlier announced that troops may carry out a major operation similar to operation 'Riviresa' late last year, but an operation was carried out only in the Valikamam area to search for LTTE cadres who had infiltrated the area.
However a possible offensive in the Vadamarachchi and Thenmarachchi sectors after the New Year has not been ruled out.
Earlier military officials said the LTTE had taken some of the civilians forcibly to the Kilinochchi area from the Jaffna peninsula, but a majority of them had opted to stay back.
Latest reports indicate the LTTE was building up pressure to force civilians to leave the peninsula before the next major military offensive.
In Colombo and the South security is being stepped up after the extension of the state of emergency to cover the entire island
Sri Lankan fund raiser Aruna Kithsiri is coming back to Colombo from Abu Dhabi as he faces threats from LTTE supporters there, his mother said.
Mr. Kithsiri jailed in Abu Dhabi for collecting money for the National Defence Fund, was later released on Sri Lankan government intervention.
His brother Rohana Upulananda told The Sunday Times the LTTE sympathisers in UAE had threatened Aruna not to collect funds for the Sri Lankan forces.
"Some of these people were behind the arrest of my brother", Upulananda claimed.
Mr. Kithsiri was in jail for more than eight weeks before he was released in the first week of March. He was taken into custody by the presidential police in Abu Dhabi.
Abu Dhabi Sinhala Youth Association of which Aruna is the president, had previously raised funds from various projects for the NDF and handed over these donations to the Lankan ambassador there. He also made some donations when he came to Sri Lanka on holiday.
Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike and Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar made personal requests to the UAE ruler, Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan AI Nahyan for the release of Mr. Kithsiri.
Government and Opposition Parties are going ahead with plans for May Day rallies this year despite continued security threats.
LSSP General Secretary Batty Weerakoon said the constituent parties of the People's Alliance would hold a joint May Day rallies as they did last year and the year before.
The P.A.'s procession will start from Campbell Park and proceed to the Town Hall where the meeting will be held.
UNP General Secretary Gamini Athukorale told 'The Sunday Times' the UNP's May Day celebrations would be confined only to a meeting this year. "We will hold a rally at Avissawella in the evening to mark the day. However there will be no demonstrations, this year", he said.
The M.E.P's rally will get underway at 3. 00 pm at the Super Market playground in Nugegoda. MEP Leader Dinesh Gunawardena said the party had applied for permission for a procession from Kirillapone to Nugegoda, but it was yet to be approved.
DUNLF spokesman Ravi Karunanayake said his party had not taken any firm decision on the matter as the party leader Srimani Athulathmudali is out of the island. "A joint discussion amongst the members of the alliance was intitiated about two weeks back to discuss a joint rally but is has not gone beyond that step. However there is a possibility the DUNLF would have it along with the other members on a low key", Mr. Karunanayake said.
CWC chief S. Thondaman said the workers' day celebrations of his party would be in Hatton. The rally preceeded by a procession entering Hatton in different directions will he held at 10.00 am
According to Collin Gunasekera, Central Commitee member of the NSSP, the NSSP's meeting will begin at 4.00 pm at De Mel Park in Salve Island. He said the demonstrations would start from De Mel Park and come back to the same venue for the rally.
D. Siddarthan of the PLOTE said they would not have May Day celebrations on a big scale this year. "Most of the people in our base, Vavuniya, are living as refugees. We are very much concerned about their plight. They are not in a mood to celebrate the May Day", he said.
EPRLF General Secretary Suresh Premachandran said the main demonstration of his party would be in Trincomalee.
The S.L.P.F. will conduct its Workers' Day meeting at Nawinna, Maharagama.
The postal code system introduced in Sri Lanka, at the end of last year has been withdrawn following a report given by the Universal Postal Union (UPU), which found the system unsatisfactory, Post Master General Soma Kotakadeniya said.
Japanese consultants from the UPU, who recently visited the island to assess this new system prepared by the Postal Department, had rejected it stating that the officials who were behind in preparing this had not considered the expansion of the postal service in future, and the mounting number of mails piling up each day.
The UPU earlier recommended this postal code system, but gave the responsibility of drawing the plan to the local authorities.
The Postal Department last August introduced a four digit Postal Code system, which alloted each post office with a code number. People were requested to use this four digit number following an address to provide a more efficient service.
Ms. Kotakadeniya told the "The Sunday Times" the consultants had rejected the four digit system but instead emphasised on a five digit number, to suit the expansion of the postal service.
However the Postal Department obtained hundreds of thousands of rupees from the National Savings Bank to prepare and print millions of copies with post offices and the corresponding numbers, to be distributed among the general public.
A postal union spokesman told "The Sunday Times" due to the irresponsible manner of preparing this, it had cost the department as well as hundreds of post masters in outstations a lot of money. They were required to put up the boards carrying the numbers at their own cost.
"This incident has clearly shown the inefficiency of the authorities to work out long term plans, meanwhile misleading the public and using huge amounts of money" he said.
Ms. Kotakadeniya said the new postal code with five digits was being prepared by the operations department headed by Deputy Post Master General Senadeera, and it would be presented next week.
In a fresh bid to streamline the public sector, government is giving more than 250,000 public servants the option to retire early with full pension benefits, officials said.
They said the Public Administration Ministry has found that several Departments and Ministries were overloaded.
No one will be forced to do anything but early retirement will be entirely at the discretion of the employee. There would also be no discrimination or victimisation, they assured.
During the former UNP regime also such a scheme was offered and about 50,000 workers decided to retire prematurely.
Under the open economy where the private sector plays an important role, the need has arisen for the public sector to be efficient enough to compete with the private sector, they said.
It had been found that overloading of employees had become counter- productive with tendencies towards inefficiencies and lack of commitment.
Seeking third party mediation leaders of five Tamil political parties will meet heads of the European missions here to discuss the devolution package.
EPRLF leader Suresh Premachandran told The Sunday Times that Tamil parties felt mediation by a third party was necessary to settle the ethnic conflict.
"After the political package was proposed, we have seen the emergence of widely divergent views even from parties in the ruling alliance. We feel no solution can be reached this way unless some sort of mediation is arranged" he said.
Apart from the devolution package they will also discuss the present situation and the plight of the Tamil refugees. The Tamil parties will also meet a delegation from the Australian mission tomorrow. They have already met representatives of the US, Canada, Britain, India and the Netherlands missions here.
Mr. Premachandran said these meetings were very productive. "The discussions were very cordial and sympathetic. Most of them agreed on our proposals.
They shared their views on the package as well as the problems faced by the Tamils. They were very encouraging"
EPDP leader Douglus Devananda said they considered the meeting with the European representatives as a very important one and they would also take up the issue of LTTE activities in those countries.
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