27th August 2000
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Parties finalise nomination lists

Performers, professionals and young blood to the fore

By Dilrukshi Handunnetti and Shelani de Silva
With nomination day drawing close, the two main parties joining the fray are busy finalizing their lists in which nepotism is likely to play a part, while party spokesmen said there would be some surprises with the inclusion of more youths and professionals.

The ruling PA has decided on principle to give nominations to all those who were sitting members of the tenth Parliament including those who crossed over as well as members of the UNP Alternative Group.

Minister of Provincial Councils and Local Government Alavi Moulana said the SLFP with the support of all left groups would emerge victorious at the general elections. Every one has to be highly competitive now, because so many have sought nomination from the PA. It is only the performers who would be given a chance" he said.

Despite protests by senior party members, the UNP Alternative Group has been recognized as an ally of the ruling Peoples' Alliance government and all key defectors will contest under the PA banner.

Meanwhile, sources said that Industrial Development Minister Ronnie de Mel is to be accommodated on the National List along with Ministers Alavi Moulana, Batty Weerakoon, Lakshman Kadirgamar, K.B. Ratnayake and some others. Mervyn Silva who recently crossed over to the PA will contest from Hambantota district while defector Harendra Corea is likely to accept a diplomatic posting. Former military spokesman Sarath Munasinghe will also receive PA nomination.

Sons of current legislators are also likely to join the fray with Nauzer Fowzie, Sarana Gunewardene and Berty Premalal Dissanayake's son receiving nominations.

Some of the distinguished absentees in the arena would be Mrs. Sirimavo Bandara-naike, P.B.G. Kalugalle and Anil Moonesinghe who is tipped to accept a diplomatic posting and take wing to Austria shortly. 

PA sources said the finalizing of the lists of candidates would be completed early next week. Several provincial councillors are likely to be given nominations, while an attempt to field several artistes has been foiled.

Meanwhile, the UNP is expected to finalize the nominations list by Tuesday next, with all members of the tenth Parliament likely to receive nomination. 

The UNP has also decided to give nominations to all electoral organizers of all districts to 'make the competition worthwhile'. 

With the finalizing of electoral arrangements with other parties, the UNP will launch Sri Lanka Muslim Kachchi leader Abdul Rasool and popular actor Ravindra Randeniya at the general elections.Sajith Premadasa and Navin Dissanayake will be contesting from the Hambantota and Nuwara Eliya districts respectively.

All four CWC defectors are poised to contest from their respective districts except rebel leader P.P. Devaraj who is to be accommodated on the UNP National List. P. Chandrasekeran, leader of the Up Country Peoples' Front will also contest under the UNP banner.

UNP General Secretary Gamini Atukorale told The Sunday Times that all opposition leaders of provincial councils will be given nominations. Karu Jayasuriya, Hemakumara Nanayakkara, Jayathileke Podinilame, Keheliya Rambukwella, W. Ekanayaka and Upali Samaraweera will contest from Gampaha, Galle, Kegalle, Kandy, Anuradhapura and Badulla respectively. Asoka Wadigamangawa and Gamini Jayawickreme Perera who quit Parliament to contest the controversial Wayamba provincial poll will also contest this time.

In addition to all electoral organizers, a host of provincial council members with a proven track record would also receive nominations, Mr. Atukorale said. UNP's professionals, Ajith Nivard Cabraal and Milinda Moragoda will also contest from the Colombo district.

The UNP will also field some defeated former Parliamentarians and some who were out of the arena for a while such as Sunethra Ranasinghe, Dr. Ranjith Atapattu, Dr. P.M.B. Cyril and Indradasa Hettiarachchi. Several ULF members who crossed over to the UNP led by the Ravi Karunanayke faction are also likely to contest this time.UNP spokesman Dr. Karunasena Koditu-wakku said that the party has strived to infuse young blood and has managed to keep 50% of the candidates below 45 years of age while also managing to field about 10% of professionals in a bid to introduce a new political culture.

Rebel UNPer Chula Bandara who resigned from the UNP Alternative Group opposing its power struggle is likely to be given nomination from Kurunegala district.

Meanwhile, all UNP nominated members would have to contest except K.N. Choksy, D.H.N. Jayamaha, CWC faction leader P.P. Devaraj and Ananda Kularatne who will be appointed by the party.

By Friday the People's Alliance were working on their National List with speculation that Wijeyapala Mendis from the UNP Alternative Group is to be included in it. 

The Sunday Times learns that President Kumaratunga has given the green light for Minister Sarath Amunugama to contest from his electorate, but turned down Wijeyapala Mendis' request.

The PA is to have new faces on the National List specially those who had worked for the party during the Presidential polls. People Alliance General Secretary D M Jayaratne told The Sunday Times that most of the sitting MPs will be contesting but the list is yet to be finalised.

'The Colombo list is almost finalised and we are working on the list for the North and East. The PA will be contesting in Jaffna, Wanni, Batticaloa and Trincomalee where we will have Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim candidates' he said.

He added that the People's Alliance which consists of seven constituents is to expand after the elections.

' The UNP alternative group, CWC, National Unity Alliance and the SLMC are with us. Although the SLMC and CWC are contesting on their own both parties will join the PA' he said. 

Meanwhile the constituent parties of the PA were subject to a criteria with their progress and the number of seats each party is capable of getting at the forthcoming election being evaluated before accommodating their candidates on the list.

'We will follow the same method used during the 1994 elections. The parties did not make any demands but we looked into the contribution made by them to the alliance' said Minister Jayaratne. Meanwhile the smaller parties were also finalising their lists over the weekend.

By Friday evening the JVP had completed the first phase of their list, except for Jaffna.

JVP spokesperson Wimal Weerawansa told The Sunday Times that the list will be completed by Monday.

'Candidates for Jaffna will be completed over the weekend. The finishing touches will be done closer to the day of nomination' he said.

JVP Presidential candidates Nandana Gunethilake will be contesting from Kalutara district, while Wimal Weerawansa is to contest from Colombo District.

Meanwhile the Sihala Urumaya which was holding discussions with the MEP to contest under one banner decided otherwise following the MEP's request to use the party symbol in the Colombo district.The Sihala Urumaya vehemently protested at this with party Chairman S.L Gunasekera and Champaka Ranawake both deciding to contest from Colombo.

Former Parliamentarian and party secretary Tilak Karunaratne is to contest from Kalutara.

Following the MEP drawing away from the Sihala Urumaya, on Friday evening the Mahanayakes of the Asgiriya and Malwatte Chapters called on the Sihala Urumaya and Bhoomiputhra Party to unite under one banner.

Funeral amidst tension

By Nilika de Silva
At a simple ceremony held in the pouring rain the funeral of slain UNP supporter Saman Kumara took place yesterday evening at his hometown Gabbala, Rambukkana.

Opposition leader Ranil Wickremesinghe, UNP General Secretary Gamini Athukorale, chairman Karu Jayasuriya and Gamini Jayawickrema Perera attended the funeral

The atmosphere was heavy with tension as the funeral procession wound its way to the Gabbala cemetery.

However, in contrast the adjoining villages appeared to be untouched by the death.

Nineteen-year-old Saman Kumara was shot dead when he was pasting posters with a group of UNP suppoprters. The others who were with him at the time of the attack are warded in hospital.

Saman Kumara's death on Wednesday was the second election related killing after the General Elections were announced to be held on October 10.

First shot fired in election violence

Barely twenty four hours after the Government announced the election date the first election violence occurred in the heart of Colombo.

The death of a JVP activist on Saturday morning rang warning bells of a possible violent election in October. This was followed by the killing of a UNPer in Kegalle on Thursday.

Champika Ruwan joined the JVP at the age of 14, with the re-emergence of the JVP. The youngster's fight for the party put him behind bars during the youth uprising in the late 80s. It was this loyalty to the party that led him to volunteer to put up posters and banners in the wee hours of Saturday to mark the party's convention on August 23.

Twenty seven year old Ruwan, a labourer at the Colombo Municipal Council, together with two party supporters set off around 3 am to put up banners. While Ruwan and his friend were walking, the other supporter Wijekumar was on a push bicycle with the load of posters. They had completed pasting posters on the walls along W A Silva Mawatha and were proceeding towards Kirulapone. 

Champika and his friend were about 100 metres away while Wijekumar was close to the bridge. Suddenly a Pajero had stopped close to Wijekumar and four people had proceeded towards Champika.

' One person pulled out a pistol and ran towards Champika. Immediately I hid the posters and my bicycle and ran towards a police mobile, and then went near Champika. There was a huge bump on his forehead. I asked him whether he could identify the people and he said that he will be able to and said that the group had said that they were Minister S B Dissanayake's people and that they had only started their mission' he said.

With the help of some party supporters Champika was rushed to hospital. He had been conscious until evening and passed away in the night due to internal bleeding.

' I am positive the group of men were Minister S B Dissanayake's people. Throughout that night several vehicles were hovering in that area. In Thimbirigasyaya some of our banners were removed but there was no incident,' said Wijekumar.

Champika an Old Boy of Isipathana Vidyalaya, is the eldest in a family of three boys. 

Although he did not hold any political post in the party, Champika had been successful in helping his neighbourhood with the cooperation of the Municipal Councillors.

JVP District Organiser for Colombo, Sunil Handunhetti told The Sunday Times that this is only the beginning.

'When we lost Champika we thought they will learn a lesson but another youth was killed. We appeal to the people to come forward and protest against the rising violence. The people have to decide what kind of Government they want' he said.

He added that the Party would carry out a protest both locally and internationally, and also inform the Human Rights Commission.

HNB union activist sacked

By Tania Fernando
A Hatton National Bank employee who challenged the managment in a court case over the purchase of Sampath Bank shares with EPF funds has been sacked over an incident that took place last year.

S B Abeysekera, who heads the HNB branch of the Ceylon Bank Employees Union, in a petition filed in Colombo District Court has alleged that the bank's management had used Rs. 120 million from the EPF funds to buy more than 2 million Sampath Bank sahres and sought an enjoining order against the HNB management, preventing it from using the funds money without employees' approval.

The bank in a letter to Mr. Abeysekera said his services had been terminated due to an alleged involvement with a colleague in May last year. 

The letter claimed that Mr. Abeysekra had beein involved in an incident where the vehicle of a branch manager had been damaged during a crisis over a salary dispute.

The letter further states: "It is clear that apart from acts of misconduct of which you have been found guilty by the Inquiring Officer as aforesaid, you have also time and again during the past given reasons for the management to take action against you due to unsatisfactory conduct and performance. In all these circumstances, the management has decided to terminate your services with immediate effect".

No false promises from PA, your future from UNP

With elections round the corner the ruling PA and the main opposition UNP will present their respective manifestos next week.

A senior cabinet minister said the manifesto would mainly highlight development work during the past six years.

He said as the PA was confident of getting a good majority it would not give false promises to the people but would give reasons for the high cost of living.

"The manifesto will give reasons for the high cost of living, with the war expenditure being the main reason, " he said.

Meanwhile The UNP's manifesto "Your Future" will be officially launched at a special convention next Saturday.

"It is a revolutionary policy document which addresses the grievances of the masses and offers a new lease of life," UNP General Secretary Gamini Atukorale said.

Secretary of the manifesto drafting committee, Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena, said the salient features of the manifesto were recommendations for the abolition of the executive presidency, establishment of the four independent commissions, the launching of immediate and direct talks with the LTTE, strengthening of human rights, liberalization of media laws and an increase of the Samurdhi allowance. 

Meanwhile Kalutara district parliamentarian Imtiaz Bakeer Markar has drafted 'a district mini manifesto' addressing the key issues of the Kalutara district .

Mr. Marker said this was the first time that a manifesto addressing the district requirements has been launched by a politician and said the highlights included welfare and workers rights in the plantation sector, redress for youth unemployment and providing more facilities for the fisheries sector.

In a related move, the UNP is to call upon the government to uphold its endorsement of a 14-point UNP proposal for the conduct of free and fair polls urging the establishment of an independent election commission before polls. 

A three-member committee comprising Ministers G.L. Peiris, Dharmasiri Senanayake and M.H.M. Ashraff earlier studied these proposals.

A320s will fly on

In the aftermath of Wednesdays crash of an A320 airbus, a SriLankan Airlines official said they would not ground any of their airbuses and flights would be operated as scheduled. 

Double stamping

The Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications has created the post Additional Post Master General (PMG) when a deputy PMG post already exists..

H. W. D. Sunil, Senior Assistant Secretary to the Ministry of Posts, Telecommunications and Media and Rupavahini Director, has been appointed to the post, The Sunday Times learns. Trade union officials said they were not ready to buy the explanation given by the authorities who inefficiency of the present administration as the reason for the creation of the new post. "If inefficiency is the reason, then why Deputy Post Master General M. K. Wimalasiri has been awarded with a top foreign scholarship?" one trade union official asked


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