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Sri Lanka frees 16 Indian fishermen as goodwill gesture

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

Colombo/New Delhi: As a goodwill gesture ahead of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s visit to India, Sri Lanka has decided to set free 16 Indian fishermen.

The fishermen were arrested after they allegedly intruded into Sri Lankan waters. Earlier, the fisherman’s associations of Tamil Nadu had urged the Sri Lankan government to release the 16 fishermen.

R_Wickremasinghe (1)
Ranil Wickremesinghe

It was decided to release the fishermen in order to ensure that the strong friendship between India and Sri Lanka is maintained, the Colombo Gazette reported on Sunday citing the statement received from the Sri Lanka Prime Minister’s Office.

Wickremesinghe’s office said the government also took note of the request made by the Indian fisherman’s associations.

Ranil Wickremesinghe’s visit to India beginning Monday will be his first official overseas visit since being appointed as prime minister last month. The Sri Lankan Prime Minister’s office said that Wickremesinghe considers it important to visit India first.

The Sri Lankan government has also said that the proposed Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) between Sri Lanka and India will not be discussed during Wickremesinghe’s visit to India.

Wickremesinghe is to discuss domestic issues as well as regional security with the Indian leaders, the daily said, quoting the Prime Minister’s Office.

Wickremesinghe is to meet President Pranab Mukherjee, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, among others, during his three-day visit.

Meanwhile, Minister of International Trade and Investment Malik Samarawickreme denied reports that the CEPA agreement will be discussed and signed during the visit.

The signing of the CEPA agreement has remained stalled over the years as both sides had failed to reach a consensus on several issues.

Samarawickreme said that before signing such an agreement there is need to look at Sri Lanka’s requirements today.

The minister said be it an agreement with India or any other country, the new Sri Lankan government will ensure it meets the interests of the Sri Lankan people, the Colombo Gazette reported.

(With inputs from IANS)

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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)