Daily Archives: July 17, 2015

Rajapaksa says he wants to make a fresh start as PM

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Former Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa today blamed ‘international and local conspirators’ for his defeat in the presidential election held in January and vowed to ensure communal harmony and peace in the country in a future government headed by him.

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Rajapaksa during his first public appearance after his defeat in the presidential elections vowed to correct all his administration’s mistakes.

Addressing the launch of the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) campaign for the August 17 parliamentary elections in the north central capital of Anuradhapura, Rajapaksa said, “We will ensure reconciliation, communal harmony and peace”.

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69-year-old leader blamed the international and local conspirators for his January 8 defeat to Maithripala Sirisena in the presidential election.

“Ranil (Wickremesinghe) and foreign missions tried hard to prevent my entry into the race for parliament, the people defeated that conspiracy”, Rajapaksa said.

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He charged that all mega infrastructure development projects undertaken by his government had been stopped by the current government led by Sirisena while the economy has stagnated.

The national security which he ensured by defeating the LTTE is also under threat.

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Rajapaksa did not respond to the tirade against him by Sirisena in this week’s television address.

“I do not need to respond to them, people will respond”, he said.

(Photos by Mahinda Rajapaksa media Unit)

DH

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Three Ministers Resign Protesting Sirisena’s Remarks Against Rajapaksa

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COLOMBO: Three Sri Lankan Deputy Ministers resigned on Thursday in protest against President Maithripala Sirisena’s televised statement in which he predicted the defeat of his own party, the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), in the August 17 parliamentary elections, and vowed that he will not appoint Mahinda Rajapaksa as Prime Minister even if the SLFP wins the elections.

Deputy Ministers Sudarshani Fernandopulle, Lasantha Alagiyawanna and Eric Prasanna Weerawardena told the media that they have sent in their resignations to the President.

Sri Lanka has a coalition government comprising a section of the SLFP, the United National Party (UNP), and other smaller parties. While President Sirisena belongs to the SLFP, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe is from the UNP.

Deputy Minister Sudarshani Fernandopulle said that Sirisena’s anti-Rajapaksa and anti-SLFP remarks have dealt a blow to SLFP unity, when unity of the party is badly needed to prevent the country from going into the hands of the authoritarian UNP.

Asked if the SLFP leaders will meet and throw Sirisena out of the Chairmanship of the party, Fernandopulle said that such a step could be considered by the Central Committee (CC) when it meets next.

But Rajitha Senaratne, a Sirisena loyalist, countered this. The CC cannot be convened without the permission of Chairman Sirisena, he pointed out. On Wednesday, the Colombo District Court had stayed a meeting of the CC on the grounds that it did not have the Chairman’s permission to meet.

Deputy Minister Eric Weerawadana said that Sirisena’s statement has made the SLFP cadre even more determined to rally round Sirisena’s rival, former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, and take the party towards victory.

Former MP and SLFP Muslim leader A.H.M.Azwer described Sirisena’s remarks as “atrocious.” The President has fallen prey to an “American-Zionist conspiracy” to weaken Sri Lanka, he said.

Striking a different note, former Minister Dilan Perera pointed out that the President has criticized the United National Party (UNP) also in his speech. “Perhaps Sirisena and Rajapaksa are working to a common anti-UNP agenda,” he said.

TNIE

Gunman Opens Fire at US Military Center; 4 Marines Killed

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CHATTANOOGA: A gunman unleashed a barrage of gunfire at two military facilities Thursday in Tennessee, killing at least four Marines and wounding a soldier and a police officer, officials said. The shooter also was killed.

“Today was a nightmare for the city of Chattanooga,” Mayor Andy Berke said.

U.S. Attorney Bill Killian said officials were treating the attacks as an “act of domestic terrorism,” though FBI Special Agent in Charge Ed Reinhold said authorities were still investigating a motive.

A U.S. official speaking on condition of anonymity identified the gunman as 24-year-old Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez, and said he was believed to have been born in Kuwait, though it was unclear whether he was a U.S. or Kuwaiti citizen.

Within hours of the shootings, law enforcement officers with guns drawn swarmed what was believed to be Abdulazeez’s house, and two females were led away in handcuffs.

The attacks took places minutes apart, with the gunman stopping his car and opening fire first at a military recruiting center, then apparently driving to a nearby Navy-Marine training center.

The Marine Corps said four Marines were killed, and a fifth Marine was wounded in the leg. A police officer was shot in the ankle, Berke said.

Authorities gave no details on how the gunman was killed. The FBI’s Reinhold said he had “numerous weapons” but would not give details.

“Lives have been lost from some faithful people who have been serving our country, and I think I join all Tennesseans in being both sickened and saddened by this,” Gov. Bill Haslam said.

Sgt. 1st Class Robert Dodge, who leads U.S. Army recruiting at the recruiting center, estimated there were 30 to 50 shots fired. He and his comrades got on the ground and barricaded themselves in a safe place.

Law enforcement officials told recruiters that the shooter was in a car, stopped in front of the facility, shot at the building and drove off, said Brian Lepley, a spokesman with the U.S. Army Recruiting Command.

Within minutes, the shooter then opened fire at the Navy Operational Support Center and Marine Corps Reserve Center Chattanooga.

Marilyn Hutcheson, who works across the street, said she heard a barrage of gunfire.

“I couldn’t even begin to tell you how many,” she said. “It was rapid fire, like pow pow pow pow pow, so quickly. The next thing I knew, there were police cars coming from every direction.”

She ran inside, where she remained locked down with other employees and a customer. The gunfire continued with occasional bursts she estimated for 20 minutes.

“If it was a grievance or terroristic related, we just don’t know,” she said.

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