Sunday February 23, 2020
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Sri Lankan president vows to fight corruption


Colombo: Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena has said that the battle against corruption will continue even as a new united government began work on Tuesday.

Addressing parliament which convened after the August 17 elections, Sirisena said he will continue with the work he started after winning the January 8 presidential election, Xinhua news agency reported. “My government will continue to crack down on corruption and punish those who exploit national resources no matter who they are. There will be no political interference in the appointment of officials,” he said. He added that the new government would focus on an Asia-centric foreign policy and would aim to maintain good relations with all countries.

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He extended an open invitation to Sri Lankan professionals working overseas to return to the country and contribute to its economy. Sirisena arrived in parliament to officially inaugurate the sessions and was greeted by the new speaker, Karu Jayasuriya. Earlier, 225 members took oath before the speaker. The United National Party (UNP) of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe won the parliamentary polls to form a new government. The UNP defeated the main opposition United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) by winning 106 seats. The UPFA got 95 seats.


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Modi meets Bhutan PM, Sri Lanka president

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New York: Prime Minister Narendra Modi continued his round of neighborhood diplomacy by meeting Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena and Bhutan Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay on Friday to discuss economic cooperation.

On Thursday he met Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. There were no plans to meet Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Nepal Prime Minister Sushil Koirala has canceled his visit to New York because of violent protests at home against a new constitution.

Modi complimented Sirisena on the successful and peaceful completion of parliamentary elections and said it showed a deep-rooted commitment to democracy, a trait shared with India.

About a recent UN Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) report calling for special courts with international participation to try those charged with war crimes during the civil war, Modi said that he supported the quest for justice, but also respected Sri Lanka’s sovereignty. He added that a way could be found for a consensus between Colombo and the UNHRC.

Sri Lanka opposed UNHRC proposals for so-called ‘hybrid courts’ that had both Sri Lankan and international judges and investigators, and said it would only accept advice from outside. The United States is drafting a resolution on the subject, and according to media reports, it would call for ‘hybrid courts’ and Sri Lanka is trying hard to block it.

Modi and Sirisena also discussed the bilateral development projects that include the building of 57,000 houses in areas ravaged by civil war, railway infrastructure and power generation.

Development projects figured prominently in discussions between Tobgay and Modi, according to Swarup. The hydroelectric projects India was building for Bhutan would export power to India in a large enough quantity to save 11 million metric tons of carbon by not using fossil fuels to generate that amount of electricity. That would be a contribution to sustainability.

Tobgay suggested extending the Bhutan-Bangladesh-India-Nepal connectivity project beyond the motorway to other types of links.

Both Sri Lanka and Bhutan backed Security Council reforms. Tobgay said that it was an anomaly that India was not a permanent member of the Council.


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