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PM Modi gives socio-economic gifts to Lanka; offers $318 million support for railways

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By Newsgram Staff Writer

Prime Minister Narendra Modi who reached Colombo today, made various important and supportive agreements with his Lankan counterpart.

The two nations have decided to set up a Joint Task Force to improve the Indian Ocean economy. India will also provide a fresh line of credit of up to  $318 million for the railways sector which will be used to procure rolling stock, and to restore and upgrade existing railway track.

Apart from this the Reserve Bank of India and the Central Bank of Sri Lanka have agreed to enter into a Currency Swap Agreement of  $1.5 billion which will help keep the Sri Lankan rupee stable.

Narendra Modi also signed some social deals to improve connectivity, cooperation and tourism between the countries. Schemes like ‘Tourist Visa on Arrival – Electronic Travel Authorization’ will be extended to Sri Lankan citizens. Air India will also start direct flights between New Delhi and Colombo soon. A  Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation in youth affairs was also singed ‘ As an important long term investment in our relationship’ Modi said.

The prime minitser also discussed the issue of fishermen with the Sri Lankan President. He said it’s a complex issue concerning livelihood and  humanitarian concerns on both sides and require a long term solution. He added that the two governments can implement the mutually acceptable arrangement between the fishermen`s associations of India and Sri Lanka.

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President’s Dissolution of Parliament Unconstitutional: Sri Lanka’s Court

The push to oust Rajapaksa dragged Sri Lanka's parliament into chaos.

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Sri Lanka, Parliament
Supporters of ousted Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe celebrate outside the supreme court complex in Colombo. VOA

Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court has ruled that President Maithripala Sirisena’s move to dissolve parliament last month was illegal.

In a unanimous decision announced Thursday, the seven-member court said that Sirisena violated the constitution when he called a snap election nearly two years before the parliamentary session was due to end.

The decision adds another chapter to a political crisis that began on on October 26, when President Sirisena fired Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, claiming that an informant told police that a Cabinet minister was part of a plot to assassinate him.

Sri Lanka, parliament
Ousted Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe holds a copy of the constitution of Sri Lanka as he attends a media briefing at his official residence in Colombo, Oct. 29, 2018. VOA

He replaced Wickremesinghe with Mahinda Rajapaksa, the country’s former president and strongman, then suspended parliament the next day. In an apparent bow to international pressure, Sirisena summoned lawmakers back to work last Monday.

But when it became apparent that Rajapaksa would not survive a no-confidence vote, Sirisena dissolved parliament on November 9 and called for snap elections. The Supreme Court overruled the president’s decree in a ruling issued just days later.

Wickremesinghe has remained in the prime minister’s official residence in Colombo in defiance of Sirisena’s actions.

Sri Lanka, Parliament
Newly appointed Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa speaks during the parliament session in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Nov. 15, 2018. VOA

The push to oust Rajapaksa dragged Sri Lanka’s parliament into chaos. Speaker Karu Jayasuriya held a voice vote on November 14 on the no-confidence motion after Rajapaksa’s supporters staged an noisy, impromptu protest in the chamber before debate began.

Also Read: Sri Lanka On The Brink of ‘Economic Anarchy’

The next day, rival lawmakers exchanged blows after Jayasuriya declared that Sri Lanka had no prime minister or a cabinet, with some of Rajapaksa’s supporters hurling water bottles and other objects at Jayasuriya. (VOA)