An Echelon Media Company
Tuesday December 5th, 2023

Sri Lanka lobbying Muslim countries ahead of crucial Geneva vote

WELCOMED – Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina welcomes Sri Lanka Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa in Dhaka/PMD handout

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka has ramped up contacts with Islamic countries as the vote on the Resolution against the island nation at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva nears.

Steady support from Muslim countries has in the past helped stave off similar resolutions against Sri Lanka’s Human Rights record particularly in the last stages of the separatist war.

The Council is expected to vote on the resolution against Sri Lanka this week which aims to condemn Sri Lanka’s lack of reconciliation after the war and also enforce targeted sanctions against key members of the current government.

This year, however, support from Islamic countries has been lukewarm due to the anti-Muslim rhetoric emanating from government leaders as well as the insistence on the cremation of the remains of all Sri Lankans who die of Covid 19. Cremation is abhorrent to people who follow the Abrahamic faiths, Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) said yesterday that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa had called the Secretary-General of the Organisation Dr Yousef A. Al-Othaimeen and “discussed with him the existing relations between the OIC and Sri Lanka as well as the situation of the Muslim community in the country.”

In an earlier session of the Council Al-Othaimeen had slammed Sri Lanka over the burial issue. However yesterday’s statement “welcomed the decision of the Government of Sri Lanka on the right of Muslims to bury their dead in accordance with the Islamic rites. The Secretary-General reaffirmed the OIC’s keenness to follow up the conditions of Muslim communities and defend their rights in non-OIC member states.”

Yesterday Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa returned from a two-day trip to Bangladesh where he attended the centenary birth celebrations of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, considered the liberator of Bangladesh and father of long-standing Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wazed.

Although not officially stated, Sri Lanka is known to have lobbied Dhaka to either vote in favour of Sri Lanka or abstain from the poll.

Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena also had a meeting last week with the Afghan Ambassador in Colombo Ashraf Haidari, at which Kabul’s envoy had asked for Sri Lanka’s support for the candidacy of Dr Zalmai Rassoul for the post of President of the United Nations General Assembly. Rassoul is a former Foreign Minister of Afghanistan.

Official statements did not say whether the Geneva Resolution was discussed. (Colombo, March 22, 2021)

Reported by Arjuna Ranawana

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Sri Lanka rupee closes stronger at 327.40/90 to the US dollar

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s rupee closed at 327.40/90 to the US dollar on Tuesday, from 328.10/30 the previous day, dealers said.

Bond yields were stable.

A bond maturing on 01.06.2025 closed at 13.60/70 percent from 13.70/14.00 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.08.2026 closed at 13.90/14.00 percent from 13.90/14.10 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.01.2027 closed at 14.00/15 percent from 14.00/14.10 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.07.2028 closed at 14.10/20 percent from 14.20/35 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.05.2030 closed at 14.20/35 percent, from 14.25/45 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.07.2032 closed at 14.10/35 percent, from 14.05/40 percent. (Colombo/Dec5/2023)

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Sri Lanka stocks close down as investor sentiment dips

ECONOMYNEXT – The Colombo Stock Exchange closed down on Tuesday, CSE data showed.

The All Share Price Index was down 0.40 percent, or 43.50 points, at 10,700.09.

The S&P SL20 index was up 0.43 percent, or 13.32 points, at 3,054.41.

Turnover was at 711 million. The capital goods sector contributed 172 million, the food, beverage and tobacco sector contributed 140 million, and banks 113 million of this.

Top positive contributors to the ASPI in the day were John Keells Holdings Plc (up at 193.00), Richard Pieris And Company Plc (up at 19.80), and Nation Lanka Finance Plc, (up at 0.40).

Negative contributors were Commercial Bank of Ceylon Plc (down at 89.70), Sampath Bank Plc (down at 71.00), and Central Finance Company Plc, (down at 106.00). (Colombo/Dec5/2023).

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Sri Lanka plans to reduce number of school grades from 13 to 12

ECONOMYNEXT – The Ministry of Education proposes to reduce the number of school grades from 13 to 12, according to a government information department statement.

“Every child will be given the opportunity to finish school in 17 years through the proposed new education reforms,” education officials were quoted as saying after a discussion on budget allocations.

Under the proposed system, pre-school education will be at the age of 4 years, the primary section between grades 1-5, junior section between grades 6-8, and senior section between grades 9-12.

The General Certificate of Education Ordinary Level Exam (GCE O/L) is proposed to be conducted in grade 10, and the Advanced Level Examination in grade 12.

It has also been decided to reduce the number of mandatory subjects at the GCE O/L Exam from 9 to 7.

Three new subjects, information and communication technology (ICT), technical and professional skills, and religion and values will be made mandatory and included in those 7 subjects. (Colombo/Dec5/2023)

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