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STATE NEWS

AUSTRALIA SUPPORTS SRI LANKA TO ELEVATE SUSTAINABLE TOURISM

Lankapuvath | Colombo | 09-05-2024 |
Claude Gunasekera

Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority and Australia’s Market Development Facility Join Forces to Elevate Sustainable Tourism through Enhanced Research, Innovative Promotion, and Responsible Practices

In a landmark move to bolster sustainable tourism practices in Sri Lanka, the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) has entered into a strategic partnership with Australia’s Market Development Facility (MDF). This Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) aims to enhance research capabilities, diversify promotional efforts, and foster inclusive responsible tourism initiatives within the country. The MoU signing was attended by the Chairman and Director General of SLTDA and other SLTDA officials. Representing MDF was MDF Team Leader Oliver Mathieson, MDF Sri Lanka Country Director Maryam Piracha, and MDF Sri Lanka Deputy Country Director Subraja Subramaniam.

Mr. Priantha Fernando, Chairman of SLTDA, expressed optimism about the partnership, stating, "This collaboration underscores our commitment to advancing sustainable tourism in Sri Lanka. By strengthening research capabilities and diversifying promotional efforts, we aim to foster a vibrant and resilient tourism sector."

Oliver Mathieson, MDF Team Leader, emphasizes the organization’s commitment towards supporting Sri Lanka’s sustainable tourism initiatives. “MDF Sri Lanka has been a longstanding supporter of the industry,” he noted. “We are pleased to continue our work with Sri Lanka’s apex tourism body, particularly in strengthening tourism research. Accurate and timely tourism data is invaluable to better marketing and promotion strategies – and increasingly important in targeting the growing segment of tourists seeking sustainable products and services.”
A previous collaboration between SLTDA and MDF focused on initiatives inculcating an evidence-based decision-making culture within the tourism industry which included the development of a five-year research roadmap and supported capacity building of the research team. Building on this foundation, the new MOU underscores a commitment to further elevate Sri Lanka's tourism sector through strategic partnerships and innovative initiatives.



Talaimannar-Dhanushkodi Paddle Challenge Sea Kayak Race Held for Avurudu by SL Navy

Lankapuvath | Colombo | 14-04-2024 |
Claude Gunasekera

Talaimannar-Dhanushkodi Adam's Bridge Paddle Challenge concludes on successful note, for the first time in Sri Lanka.

The inaugural Adam's Bridge Paddle Challenge – a sea kayak race held from Talaimannar, Sri Lanka to Dhanushkodi, India was held on 11th April 2024. The event was organized by the Sri Lanka Navy in partnership with the Ministry of Sports, National Association of Canoeing and Kayak Sri Lanka and Indian Kayaking and Canoeing Association.

The shallow waters of the northern region, particularly the Mannar and Jaffna peninsulas, offer an ideal natural setting for the advancement of water sports. Against this backdrop, this competition was arranged to boost tourism linked to water sports, providing numerous advantages to the people of the Northern Province. This initiative also aims to foster the longstanding friendship and cultural ties between India and Sri Lanka, inspired by the Commander of the Navy, Vice Admiral Priyantha Perera's vision. The opening ceremony of the event was held under the auspices of the Chief Secretary of the Northern Province, Mr. Ledchumanan Ilaangovan and the Commander of the Navy, at the Talaimannar beach vicinity in the evening of 10th April.

Meanwhile, the Adam's Bridge Paddle Challenge got underway on the morning of 11th April from Talaimannar to Dhanushkodi. Representing Sri Lanka, 31 athletes from National Association of Canoeing, Kayak Sri Lanka, Jade High School Kayaking Club, Adventure SEALs, Sri Lanka Army, Navy and Air Force, Bolgoda Lake Rowing Club, Royal College Colombo 07, Gateway College and Lanka Adventure took part in the competition. In the same vein, 03 players from Indian Kayaking and Canoeing Association also competed in the event. In a notable achievement, the Navy Commander also participated in the event by kayaking. The Commander of the Navy, known for his expert kayaking skills and record-setting paddle around the island, provided significant motivation to young athletes by participating in the Adam's Bridge Paddle Challenge.

Certificates were distributed to all tournament participants at Talaimannar Beach, attended by the Commander of the Navy, Vice Admiral Priyantha Perera, the Chief of Staff of the Navy, Rear Admiral Pradeep Rathnayake, Director General Services, Rear Admiral Priyal Vithana, Commander North Central Naval Area, Rear Admiral Naleen Navarathna, Commander Southern Naval Area and Chairman National Association of Canoeing and Keyak, Rear Admiral Chinthaka Kumarasinghe, Deputy Area Commander North Central Naval Area, Commodore Mangala Mummullage, Secretary National Association of Canoeing and Kayak, Captain Chaminda Wijesiri as well as representatives from the Indian Kayaking and Canoeing Association.

The Adam's Bridge Paddle Challenge was held under two categories, namely K1 and K2. Accordingly, the men's championship (Best Paddler) in the K 1 category was won by Lance Corporal RR Senaratne of the Sri Lanka Army. The second place in the men's K 1 category was won by Chief Petty Officer JC Jayasinghe of the Navy and the third place was won by Leading Seaman HMAD Gunathilake. The women's championship (Best Paddler) in the K 1 category was won by Leading Air Woman KWN Madushani from the Sri Lanka Air Force. Its second and third places were won by MJ De Silva and SM De Silva respectively. Meanwhile, the men's championship in the K 2 category was won by Chief Petty Officer JC Jayasinghe and Leading Engineering Mechanic JB Ekanayake of the Sri Lanka Navy.

The Commander of the Navy, speaking at the event, expressed that the tournament would see the participation of numerous foreign athletes in the coming years. He highlighted the potential for significant tourism promotion as water sports gain popularity in the shallow seas of the northern region. He also mentioned plans to expand the competition route from India to Talaimannar in 2025, alternating the starting point each year. Moreover, he stated that organizing this tournament would greatly support the promotion of tourism and the development of bilateral relations between the two countries, fostering cultural exchange.

Representatives from the Indian Kayaking and Canoeing Association, senior officers from the Navy, government officials, kayak athletes from clubs, schools and tri services as well as school children from the area witnessed this event.

CBL sponsored Gift Parcels to over 10,000 Children Nationwide

Lankapuvath | Colombo | 14-04-2024 |
Claude Gunasekera

The distribution of annual gift parcels to children under the care of 336 child development centers throughout the country, in line with President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s initiative, took place across the island.

Coordinated by the Office of the President, with support from the Office of the Chief of Defense Staff and the Sri Lanka Army, the distribution aims to bring joy to over 10,000 children, alongside the President’s New Year message.

Regardless of their circumstances, these centers across various provinces, including the Central, Eastern, Northern, Sabaragamuwa, Southern, Uva, and Western, will ensure that every child feels included and valued, extending a sense of family to them.

CBL proudly sponsored this program, facilitating the delivery of these much-awaited parcels to children nationwide.

Under the vision of President Ranil Wickremesinghe, today marked the distribution of New Year gift parcels to children under the care of 336 child development centers nationwide in celebration of the Sinhala Tamil New Year.

Gifts were distributed in the districts of Colombo, Kalutara, and Gampaha, the initiative spanned the entire day, ensuring every district was covered as children received New Year sweets and gift parcels.

This endeavor, was executed in collaboration with the private sector, notably the Ceylon Biscuit Company and the President’s Office, was themed “Happy New Year to Children in Orphanages,” aimed at spreading joy to every child, regardless of their circumstances.

Accompanied by the President’s New Year message, over 10,000 gift parcels were distributed among the children. Following President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s directives, the Army, under the supervision of Lt. Gen. Vikum Liyanage, Commander of the Army, and guidance from General Shavendra Silva, Chief of Defence Staff, facilitated the distribution of these gift parcels.

This effort covered 336 centers, including 40 in the Central Province, 57 in the Eastern Province, 16 in the North Central Province, 23 in the Northern Province, 19 in the Sabaragamuwa Province, 25 in the Southern Province, 14 in the Uva Province, and 106 in the Western Province, ensuring this year’s gift parcels reached their intended recipients

PRESIDENT RANIL PARTICIPATES IN AVURUDU FESTIVAL

Lankapuvath | Colombo | 14-04-2024 |
Claude Gunasekera | April 14, 2024

President Participates in Sinhala and Tamil New Year Festivities Organized by the Meepilimana Youth Club Nuwara Eliya.

The New Year celebrations held in Nuwara Eliya, organized by the “Api Youth Club” in partnership with the Nuwara Eliya District Secretariat and the Nuwara Eliya Divisional Secretariat, took place today (14th). President Ranil Wickremesinghe graced the occasion with his presence.

Embracing age-old traditions, this festive celebration was a tapestry of traditional sports and cultural richness.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe arrived at the venue this morning and observed various New Year competitions. Additionally, he awarded prizes to the winners of the Bakmaha cycling contest held earlier in the day.

Interacting warmly with the residents of Meepilimana, the President engaged in cordial discussion during the New Year festivities.

Furthermore, during his interaction with the people, President Ranil Wickremesinghe pledged swift resolutions to the issues raised by the local community of Meepilimana.

Simultaneously, many local government institutions and people have organized many New Year celebrations across the island to celebrate the Sinhala and Tamil New Year.

Compared to last year, more New Year’s celebrations have been organized this year.

ARMY TOP OFFICIALS PRESENTS AVURUDU GIFTS TO ALL RESCUED WAR HEROES IN SRI LANKA

Lankapuvath | Colombo | 14-04-2024 |
Claude Gunasekera

Sri Lanka Army Commander Lt. Gen. Vikum Liyanage visited the Abimansala III Veterans’ Wellness Center in Pangolla to inquire about the well-being of the heroic war heroes who were rescued during the humanitarian operation for the unity of the motherland and are receiving residential treatment and rehabilitation. He made this visit on the occasion of the Sinhala and Tamil New Year.

Commander visited the wards of the veterans undergoing residential treatment along with the officers and fellow officers to inquire about their well-being and presented them with special New Year gift parcels.

Commander Liyanage also assigned all Area Commanders and higher ranks to inquire about the well-being of the war heroes who are represented in all other war heroes’ wellness centers all over the country and present Avurudu Gifts.

Earlier, the Commander visited battle-hardened War Heroes at Attidiya ‘Mihindu Seth Medura’ to share his best wishes with them for the New Year - 2024.

Mrs Janaki Liyanage, President, Army Seva Vanitha Unit (ASVU), Major General M.K Jayawardena Commandant, Sri Lanka Army Volunteer Force, Major General S.W.M Fernando Military Secretary and Commander, Security Forces-West, Major General S.R.B Aluvihare Adjutant General and a group of Senior Officers joined and added significance to the visit.

Upon arrival of the Commander, a formal Guard Turnout at the entrance to the Mihindu Seth Medura greeted him in accordance with military formalities before a resident War Hero welcomed the Commander of the Army.

At the outset, the Commander of the Army, together with the President, Officers and Other Ranks visited wellness centres at the Mihindu Seth Medura, inquired about their well-being and gave away special gift parcels to them as tokens of New Year greetings. Afterwards, the Commander and the gathering interacted with them during the tea party.

During his address, the Commander of the Army, extended his best wishes to all who are still undergoing treatments and their families for a Happy New Year filled with new hopes, peace, happiness, prosperity and health.

Towards the end of the programme, an inmate presented a special memento to the Commander of the Army and prior to his departure the Commander penned down complimentary remarks in the visitor’s book.

SIRISENA OUT FROM SLFP CHAIRMANSHIP

Lankapuvath | Colombo | 04-04-2024 |
The Colombo High Court has issued an interim restraining order temporarily preventing former President Maithripala Sirisena from holding the post of Sri Lanka Freedom Party chairman.

It was considering a writ petition submitted to the court by former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga.

Chandrika Kumaratunga was the leader of the Sri Lankan National Party from 1994 to 2005.

The Sri Lanka Freedom Party was founded by S.W.R.D Bandaranaike in 1951 and, since then, has been one of the two largest parties in the Sri Lankan political arena. It first came to power in 1956 and since then has been the predominant party in government on a number of occasions. The party is generally considered as having a democratic socialist or progressive economic agenda and is often associated with nationalist Sinhalese parties. The party follows a Non-Aligned foreign policy but always had close ties to socialist nations.

The SLFP is currently one of the main constituent parties of the Freedom People's Alliance.

History
After independence, the SLFP represented a form of non-revolutionary socialism and a policy of non-alignment with strong ties to socialist countries. Its social democratic and nationalist policies in the aftermath of Sri Lankan independence supported its rapid rise towards attaining major party status alongside the centre-right United National Party. Founding leader, S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike stated that the basis of the party would be the ‘Pancha Maha Balavegaya’ (Five Great Forces) which consisted of the native doctors, clergy, teachers, farmers and workers.

After winning 9 seats in the 1952 parliamentary election, leader S.W.R.D Bandaranaike contested the 1956 election on a platform of giving true meaning to the independence achieved in 1948. This involved a nationalist, democratic and socialist program which saw the SLFP achieve a huge victory at the 1956 elections and is seen by many observers as a social revolution resulting in the eclipse of the Westernized elite.

Under S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike (1956–1959)
Amongst the many achievements of S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike's term of office include the reverting of major defence facilities from British to local control, initiating a shift in Sri Lanka's foreign policy from the West to the Non-Aligned Movement and lowering the voting age from 21 years to 18 years of age.

Working people, a core base of support for the party, also benefited through the setting up of an Employee's Provident Fund and the empowerment of peasants through the Paddy Lands Act. The healthcare and education systems were also improved for the benefit of the common man with the establishment of ayurvedic research centres, recognition of native physicians as well as the allowing of students to learn in their mother tongue (rather than only English).

The S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike government also had a lasting contribution in language policy. In 1956 Sinhala replaced English as the official language of Sri Lanka, fulfilling a major election pledge. In reaction to Tamil unease, the Bandaranaike–Chelvanayakam Pact was signed to grant official status to the Tamil language. However, this agreement was vehemently opposed by extremists led by the main opposition party UNP and instead a watered down act was passed. In September 1959, Bandaranaike was assassinated by an extremist monk opposed to his attempts to allegedly appease Tamils. He was replaced as prime minister for an interim period by Wijeyananda Dahanayake.

Under Sirimavo Bandaranaike (1960–1977)
After this, the party turned to Bandaranaike's widow Sirimavo Bandaranaike who consequently in 1960 became the world's first elected female head of government. Sirimavo Bandaranaike was determined to carry on the program of her husband and her government pursued several socialist policies during its terms of office from 1960 to 1964 and 1970 to 1977. Sirimavo also initiated the trend of the SLFP forging alliances with other leftist parties such as the Communist Party of Sri Lanka and the Lanka Sama Samaja Party which continues to this day with the United People's Freedom Alliance.

Under Sirimavo Bandaranaike's leadership, SLFP governments nationalized key sectors of the economy such as banking and insurance, the Ceylon Transport Board and also all schools then owned by the Roman Catholic Church. Issues arose during the state takeover of foreign businesses which upset the United States and Britain. Consequently, this augmented the SLFP's foreign policy shift towards the East and Non-Aligned Movement. Further, in 1972, the SLFP led government oversaw the introduction of a new constitution which changed the country's name from Ceylon to Sri Lanka and declared Sri Lanka to be a republic.

During her term in office, Sirimavo Bandaranaike achieved high international standing, being chosen as chairman of the Non-Aligned Movement in 1976 and receiving plaudits as the SLFP led government attempted to mediate between India and China during the Sino-Indian war.

In government, the SLFP had to also overcome a number of challenges to democracy such as the 1962 coup attempt launched by Christian officers upset by the increasing number of Buddhist officer corp which had previously been three-fifths Christian. Likewise, in 1971 the SLFP led government was almost toppled by a violent Marxist insurrection, which was eventually put down after it claimed more than a thousand lives.

Towards the end of Sirimavo Bandaranaike's second term as prime minister, her government had become increasingly unpopular amidst the background of a declining economy and charges of corruption and the SLFP was routed in the 1977 election. This was the start of 17 years in opposition.

In opposition (1977–1994)
This period of opposition was made greatly difficult after President J.R. Jayewardene's government stripped Sirimavo Bandaranaike of her civic rights for 7 years and expelled her from parliament. As a result, the SLFP fielded Hector Kobbekaduwa at the 1982 presidential election, which failed to deliver a strong outcome for the party. The SLFP suffered a further blow in the same year, when a referendum to delay parliamentary elections by 6 years was passed. During this period, the party suffered from internal conflicts, with Sirimavo's son Anura Bandaranaike, who led the party in parliament after her expulsion, shifting the traditionally socialist party to the right, while her daughter and future party leader Chandrika Kumaratunga led a breakaway group, the Sri Lanka People's Party, in response to her brother's shift. In 1989 Sirimavo Bandaranaike returned to the parliament and took the lead again; she became leader of the opposition.

Towards the early 1990s, the existing UNP government had weakened through internal conflicts of its own as well as the descent into two civil wars and fading public support. New SLFP leaders, most prominently Mahinda Rajapaksa, had launched successful pada yatra, jana gosha and white flag campaigns against the UNP government during this period. By that time, Anura Bandaranaike had left the party for the UNP to receive ministerial appointments, so Kumaratunga, who had returned to the party, now was the undisputed leader behind her mother. Sirimavo Bandaranaike had lost her influence with the electorate and stepped aside as party leader in favor of her daughter.

Under Chandrika Kumaratunga (1994–2005)
During the 1994 parliamentary and presidential elections, SLFP completed a successful return to power and Chandrika Kumaratunga was elected the nation's president as part of the SLFP led People's Alliance coalition. Kumaratunga's tenure marked the beginning of the SLFP's shift from the socialism of Sirimavo towards a more centrist philosophy that sought to combine both the free market and the SLFP's traditional people friendly policies.

The People's Alliance government continued with their predecessor's attempts to negotiate with the LTTE, whilst simultaneously attempting to weaken them militarily through force. The SLFP government however initially placed greater emphasis on achieving peace with the Kumaratunga government engaging in numerous peace talks. However, LTTE intransigence limited the policy's effectiveness.[25] The People's Alliance can be credited however with significant victories on the foreign policy front, with Foreign Affairs Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar spearheading successful efforts to further isolate the LTTE internationally. Other achievements of the Kumaratunga administration include the establishment of several new public universities.

Despite successes on these fronts, the Kumaratunga government also oversaw territorial losses to the LTTE as well as a flagging economy.[28] As a result of this, a UNP government was elected at the 2001 Parliamentary elections. In November 2003, Kumaratunga used her presidential powers to take powers away from Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe's UNP in the form of important ministries, and the People's Alliance returned to power at the 2004 polls with future party leader Mahinda Rajapaksa being appointed as the prime minister.

Under Mahinda Rajapaksa (2005–2015)
A rift opened up in the party in 2005 over the choice of its candidate for the 2005 presidential election between the President Kumaratunga backed Anura Bandaranaike and Mahinda Rajapaksa. Many members of the SLFP had been uneasy with Chandrika Kumaratunga's liberal economic policies, privatization of many public institutions as well as several allegations of corruption against her. Ultimately Rajapaksa was selected as the presidential candidate for the SLFP led United People's Freedom Alliance and was subsequently elected as President

Under Mahinda Rajapaksa, the SLFP shifted back to the left towards a social democratic program termed Mahinda Chinthana. Some of the companies privatized by the Kumaratunga administration were re-nationalized such as Shell Gas Lanka.

The major legacy of this period of UPFA government was the end of the long-running civil war and the reunification of Sri Lanka. This achievement boosted the popularity of the SLFP, leading to convincing victories in the presidential and parliamentary polls held in 2010.

In the post-war period, the Rajapaksa administration instituted a large-scale infrastructure and development drive including the construction and renewal of many of Sri Lanka's key roads, mainly using loans from China. In 2011 the construction of Sri Lanka's first expressway was completed. Likewise, new coal and renewable energy power plants were built, improving the nation's power generation capacity. Tourism received a boost specially in Colombo which ranked as the world's fastest growing tourist city in 2015. However many of such projects launched by Rajapaska mostly named after himself have been called white elephants, being built ignoring feasibility studies, Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport built by Rajapaksa only services one budget carrier and has been built near a migratory route for birds.

Other policies of the Rajapaksa government include programs to aid farmers and agricultural production, such as the re-launch of the farmer's pension scheme and subsidization of fertilizers.

In the area of foreign policy, the Rajapaksa government was seen to align itself towards the East, in accordance with SLFP tradition. This situation was augmented by the prevailing geopolitical environment which led some Western nations to criticize the UPFA government regarding accusations of human rights abuses during the civil war.

During this time the government has been implicated of political kidnappings and accused of running a family dynasty of four brothers.

The 2010-2015 period of SLFP led government was characterized by high economic growth and a reducing debt-to-GDP ratio. But the IMF has said Sri Lanka's national accounts "suffer from insufficient data sources and undeveloped statistical techniques" and Opposition legislators have accused Rajapaksa of giving overstated growth estimates. One of the top officials in the statistics office was sacked for disobedience and leaking internal information after he said that economic growth data compiled by the office was inflated

Eventually allegations of corruption and nepotism saw Mahinda Rajapaksa lose the presidency to SLFP defector Maithripala Sirisena in 2015, who ran against him with the support of the UNP and other smaller parties. The UNP consequently regained power despite the UPFA still holding a majority of seats in the legislature.

Under Maithripala Sirisena (2015–present)
Soon after Sirisena's victory, Mahinda Rajapaksa handed over leadership of the party to Sirisena, as per the SLFP constitution which states any SLFP member who is president is automatically leader of the party. Soon afterwards, the SLFP split into two main factions: those who were supportive of president Sirisena and was willing to work with the minority UNP government, and the faction loyal to the Rajapaksas, which acted as the main de facto opposition to the new regime. Nimal Siripala de Silva was appointed as parliamentary leader of the SLFP and the official Leader of the Opposition.

During Sirisena's term as president, SLFP members came to dominate the cabinet numerically, albeit largely with lower ranking positions. The SLFP, especially the Rajapaksa faction, was instrumental in revising the 19th Amendment to the Constitution of Sri Lanka proposed by the UNP, so as to reduce the powers of the president without transferring executive powers to the prime minister. However, rigorous attempts by President Sirisena and the SLFP to modify the current and largely unpopular electoral system were unsuccessful due to stiff opposition from the UNP and other smaller parties.

On 14 August 2015, Sirisena issued a letter stating that pro-Rajapaksa loyalist and General Secretary Anura Priyadarshana Yapa had been removed from the post, claiming that Yapa was going against the party policy and disobeying the commands of chairman. As a result, Sirsena appointed his loyalist Duminda Dissanayake as acting General Secretary 48 hours ahead of parliamentary election, and also obtained court order to prevent Anura Priyadarshana Yapa from functioning as General Secretary thereafter until 24 August 2015. Eventually, Sirisena sacked both the General Secretaries of the SLFP and the UPFA.

In the August general election, the SLFP-led UPFA won only 95 seats while its opposition, the UNP-led UNFGG won 106 seats. The United National Party, who won the elections. invited the SLFP to jointly create a national unity government and an agreement was signed between the UNP and SLFP. 45 MPs joined the government and 50 MPs including Mahinda Rajapaksa remained in the opposition, which resulted in a split within the SLFP.

Alliance with the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (2019–2022)
By 2018, the influence of the SLFP in Sri Lankan politics began to decline, suffering a heavy loss in the 2018 local government elections and finishing in third place, while the newly formed Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) led by former president Mahinda Rajapaksa placed first, winning 40% of the votes and securing the most number of seats and local authorities. In the 2019 presidential elections, though president Sirisena was eligible to run for a second term, the SLFP chose to endorse SLPP candidate Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who won the election.[56][57][58]

The SLPP, SLFP and several other smaller parties formed a new political alliance, the Sri Lanka People's Freedom Alliance, to contest in the 2020 Sri Lankan parliamentary elections. The new alliance claimed a landslide victory, winning 145 seats in the parliament.

Between 2021 and 2022, however, the Rajapaksa government was beginning to lose much of its popularity. The ongoing economic crisis was only getting worse due to poor mismanagement by the government. By 2021, the foreign debt of Sri Lanka had risen to 101% of the nation's GDP. The government was also becoming highly nepotistic, with Rajapaksa family brothers Basil Rajapaksa as finance minister and Mahinda Rajapaksa as prime minister, and several more members of the Rajapaksa family holding prominent positions in the government.

On 5 April 2022, amidst increasing discontent with the Rajapaksa government, the SLPP began losing many of its key allies in the SLPFA, including the SLFP.[60][61][62] Maithripala Sirisena pledged that the SLFP would become a neutral party and would contest in future elections separately from the SLPP.

Freedom People's Alliance (2023)
On 11 January 2023, a new political alliance, the Freedom People's Alliance, was formed, consisting of the SLFP, the Uttara Lanka Sabhagaya led by Wimal Weerawansa and the Freedom People's Congress led by Dullas Alahapperuma. All three parties were parties formerly aligned with the SLPP-led SLPFA who later defected from the alliance. The alliance plans to contest in the 2023 local government elections under the helicopter symbol.

Jaffna Airport is leased to the private sector

Lankapuvath | Colombo | 03-04-2024 |

Sahan Rathanasekara

The Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Aviation Services says that it has invited interest from local and foreign investors to lease the renovated Jaffna International Airport to the private sector.

Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva mentioned that after selecting a suitable investor, the next steps will be taken.

Meanwhile, the Minister also said that the proposal to transfer the operations of Mattala Airport to two Indian and Russian companies has been forwarded to the Finance Ministry.

After submitting the related proposal to the Cabinet.

Newswave