Numbers battle at local polls delayed
By Shelani Perera
Frantic calls have been made to the Elections Department by candidates
contesting the local polls asking for their preference number to be intimated
to them as they have to get their campaign material printed.
A total of 26, 213 candidates from political parties and independent
groups will contest the polls next month. With such a large number of candidates
the department has to work round the clock to allocate the numbers.
The Elections Department commenced allocation of the preference number
soon after nominations closed on February 8. However, with such a large
number of candidates contesting, the process of allocating the numbers
had not been completed even by Friday.
Allocation of the preference number is done by the District Returning
Officer which is then intimated to the Elections Department.
The main reason for the rush to obtain the preference number is the
need for it to print posters and other election campaign material.
Meanwhile the Elections Department had rejected 148 nomination papers
from political parties and independent groups.
The Sunday Times learns that several parties and independent groups
have challenged the rejections in courts last week. If the courts rule
in favour of the petitions, the Elections Department will have to accept
the rejected nominations.
One of the main reasons for the rejection of nomination papers was that
the party secretaries or group secretaries had not signed the nomination
Other reasons included nomination papers being handed over by the wrong
person and errors in the birth certificates of the candidates.
Oh these Ministers' kids!
By Tania Fernando
Despite a warning from Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe that children
of ministers should stay away from trouble, the inevitable has happened
once again with sons of two ministers getting involved in a rumpus which
called for the intervention of the police.
According to Kollupitiya Police, the sons had stamped on the feet of
girls while dancing at a night club at a hotel in Kollupitiya, last Sunday.
The girls had made a complaint to the Kollupitiya Police, claiming that
the boys had harassed them and stamped on their feet while dancing.
The boys involved in the incident were two sons of Agriculture Minister
S.B. Dissanayake and a son of Fisheries Minister Mahinda Wijesekera.
However, when the three sons of the ministers were summoned to the station,
they had apologized to the girls and left.
"They shook hands with the girls and left the police station", an officer
The three of them were involved in an incident on the night of December
31 at a hotel in Colombo, where shots were fired on the dance floor. Following
this incident the Premier had warned all ministers that their children
should stay away from trouble.
Interior Minister John Amaratunga had also instructed hotels that body
checks should be carried out on all persons entering night clubs, but hotels
had declined to carry out the instructions fearing such action would inconvenience
those patronising their clubs.
Law faculty shut down amidst chaos
By Nilika de Silva
The Colombo University's law faculty, plagued for the past few months by
student unrest, was shut down again on Friday amidst charges and counter
The latest row erupted on Thursday when the university council decided
to suspend nine students for involvement in violent incidents that arose
out of earlier protest actions.
But the students counter attacked with a death fast with two of them
doing it on the top of the roof and threatening to commit suicide if the
suspension was not withdrawn.
Apparently under pressure, the Vice Chancellor agreed to the demand,
but further problems erupted and the faculty was shut down again on Friday.
As spokesman for the law faculty staff said yesterday they would take
a strong stand on what they saw as an attempt by the students to win their
demands through suicide threats. He allege the protesting students had
acted in a disgraceful way on Thursday, throwing urine and excreta into
the rooms of female lecturers.
He said the staff believed expulsion of the nine students had been warranted
but it was mitigated to suspension and the staff felt it should not be
The university council is due to meet on Tuesday to discuss the crisis.
CBK to lead PA polls campaign
President Chandrika Kumaratunga will lead the People's Alliance (PA) local
government election campaign but it is yet to be decided when the campaign
would be formally launched, party sources said.
The President has met with the party's senior members to discuss election
strategy, the sources said.
The PA believes that it will fare better at the local elections than
at the last general elections due to the failure of the new government
to deliver on most of its promises made in its first 100 days pledge to
"Our campaign will be on par with that of the UNP . This time people
will listen to us," a senior party source said.
PA leaders have also brought to the notice of the Prime Minister and
relevant authorities that harassment of its party supporters must stop
as this would deny them participation in a free and fair election, the
PSD in President's control
Moves are presently underway to bring the Presidential Security Division
(PSD) directly under the control of the President, The Sunday Times learns.
With the appointment of an Interior Minister, the entire police force
was brought under him, and theoretically the PSD was under the control
of Minister John Amaratunga.
This understanding will be formalised and the PSD will by law be a distinct
organisation under the control of the President.
New faces at the top
The Finance Ministry has made several new appointments to the Colombo stock
Exchange, Peoples Bank and Sri Lankan Airlines.
The Stassen Group Chairman Harry Jayawardena and George Ondaatjie, the
Mercantile and Tangerine Hotels Ltd Chairman, have been reappointed to
the Colombo Stock Exchange Board of Directors while Arjuna Mahendran, Director
General of the Board Of Investment ,has also been appointed to the board.
Nimal Samarakkody and Jayantha Fernando have been appointed to the board
of directors of the Peoples Bank. S.E Captain, the well known businessman,
has been reappointed to the board of directors of the SriLankan Air Lines
while Chanaka de Silve and Mahinda Haradasa have also been appointed to
Governor Alavi at his old job again
The new Governor of the Western Province, Alavi Moulana is also the co-ordinating
secretary for this year's People's Alliance (PA) united May Day celebrations.
The newly appointed governor was present among several trade union leaders
and the General Secretary of the SLFP Maithripala Sirisena at a meeting
held on Friday where it was decided to have a joint May Day rally to pressurize
the government to bring down the cost of living.
A veteran trade unionist, Mr. Moulana was dropped from the PA National
List and later appointed Governor by the President, a position that was
expected to keep him out of active politics.
Relief awaits PTA suspects
By Laila Nasry
Indictments filed under the Prevention of Terrorism Act against Tamil youths
who have failed to provide information about the LTTE are being reviewed
on a case-by-case basis for the purpose of withdrawal.
Attorney General K. C. Kamalasabayson has instructed State Counsel to
review the indictments and withdraw any as necessary.
However, if the information obtained from the suspect is of a serious
nature then such indictments will not be withdrawn, The Sunday Times learns.
Under Section 5 of the PTA civilians mostly Tamils have been arrested
and indicted for failing to provide information about the movements of
the LTTE in their areas and are liable for imprisonment for a minimum of
five years if found guilty after trial or on pleading guilty.
A large number of such indictments filed as far back as 1991 are still
pending before various High Courts. The suspects in these cases have been
languishing in prison for four to five years without a trial.
AG's Department sources say the non-availability of officers who recorded
the confessions and difficulties in translations are among the main reasons
for the backlog.
Furthermore, courts cannot grant bail under the PTA, they say.