5th November 2000
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  • Search still on for full-time secretary
  • Hunt for office space continues
  • Political pressure in gang-rape case
  • Not for me, sir
  • 35 Dpy. Ministers appointed
  • T'Nadu MPs seek visit to NE
  • Deva proposes to reopen land route
  • CDB shake-up 
  • Roads closed for ceremonial opening 
  • President and PM to move house this week
  • 3 new parliamentarians
  • Yapa hails media

  • Search still on for full-time secretary

    The United National Party (UNP) hierarchy is reported to be unhappy with the aspirants who are vying for the top slots of chairman and general secretary.

    According to reliable sources, the party is looking for two personalities with excellent public relations and abilities to rejuvenate the party machinery.

    What is significant is that the UNP is determined to have a full-time general secretary. In the past the party had Nandalal Fernando and Harsha Abeywardena as full-time general secretaries. A fulltime secretary would strengthen the party at the grassroots level, sources said. 

    The UNP had decided to appoint former Janasaviya chairman Charitha Ratwatte as the party chairman. He had declined to accept the general secretary's post, sources said. 

    Despite his elevation as the assistant leader of the UNP, former general secretary Gamini Atukorale was reported to be unhappy about the situation.

    Former presidential secretary K. H. J. Wijedasa, former Telecom Chairman Hemasiri Fernando and UNP stalwart Razik Zarook's names have been mentioned for the post of general secretary. 

    Objections had been raised against Mr. Fernando as he was an SLFP member and Mr. Wijedasa who would not be able to work at "ground level", party sources said. Hence, Mr. Zarook is reported to be having an edge over the other two contenders for the coveted post though a 'dark horse' is also possible, party sources said.

    Hunt for office space continues

    By Tania Fernando
    Two weeks after the handing over of ministerial portfolios, the scramble for office space still continues. 

    With some ministries being split, the hunt for new premises has left many ministers in a quandary.

    With the appointment of deputy ministers the scramble has intensified.

    Minister of Information and Media, Anura Priyadharshana Yapa said he was sharing the office space at the World Trade Centre with the Telecom Ministry and no additional space had been rented out.

    "We have an intention of building an office complex at the SLBC premises, but first we have to get the Cabinet approval after which a decision will be made", Mr. Yapa said.

    The Ministry of Education and Higher Education which was located at Isurupaya has now been split with the Ministry of Higher Education located at the premises of the University Grants Commission, while the Ministry of Education functions from Isurupaya..

    With this move, officials at the University Grants Commission have to cramp themselves into a space allocated to them and make room for the new minister and his entourage.

    Political pressure in gang-rape case

    By Nilika de Silva
    Political pressure is allegedly being brought on the Police to release an underworld leader and three others arrested in connection with the gang rape of two young mothers kidnapped from a party house in Wattala.

    The Sunday Times learns the underworld leader, a drug dealer operating under the alias Nawaz, is a murder suspect allegedly involved in the killing of a drug agent.

    Moves have already been made to get work stopped on the case with the victims attempting to withdraw the complaint lodged by them following death threats.

    The victims, both 23 years old, had attended the function of a friend living in Hunupitiya, Wattala on Tuesday when a gang had entered and robbed gold jewellery and other valuables. 

    Wattala Crime Detective Bureau Inspector N. V. Lawrence told The Sunday Times that the two women had lodged a complaint regarding robbery, kidnap and rape.

    Seeing the two young mothers the gang had dragged them and forced them into the threewheeler and taken off. They had gone up to the Hunupitiya Railway Station and released the three wheeler having got down near a disused store room belonging to the Railway Department. 

    Ganja and Arrack were consumed by the men who allegedly gangraped the two young women. Another threewheeler arrived on the scene bringing six more gangsters who joined in the rape.

    One of the victims was the mother of two children while the other a mother of three was still nursing her baby. The victims are from Grandpass and Kolonnawa.

    Not for me, sir

    One of the UNP's national list nominees to Parliament has informed party leader Ranil Wickremesinghe that he was not interested in the appointment.

    The nominee, Kanapathy Kanakarajah of the Up Country People's Front, was among the 13 members nominated from the UNP's national list.

    He has indicated that he wanted to revert to Ambagamuwa Pradeshiya Sabha as a member.

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