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Friday December 9th, 2022

Sri Lanka police to investigate cops who stopped masked, armed riders at protest site

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s police chief has promised the commander of the army a probe into an incident involving police officers on duty at a protest site in Colombo who had reportedly questioned a group of masked and armed men that had arrived on unregistered motorbikes.

Inspector General of Police (IGP) C D Wickramaratne has informed Army Commander Shavendra Silva that an investigation will be held on the incident, the police media division said on Wednesday (06).

A video circulating on social media showed at least eight armed riders with their faces concealed riding four black motorbikes with no visible license plates to a protest near parliament Tuesday (5) afternoon.

Footage showed protestors react angrily to the arrival of the masked men, with some overheard jeering and hooting at them. The video also showed two police officers questioning the bikers.

The video further shows police officers trying to apprehend the suspicious biker squad. However, the masked group is seen fleeing the scene after the police officers attempted to question their identity.

A wave of protests have erupted in Sri Lanka since last Thursday (31) demanding the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his government for their handling of one of the worst economic crises in the country’s history. The first protest held last Thursday near Rajapaksa’s private residence turned violent leading to a confrontation between police and protestors. The government has blamed the isolated incidents of violence on radical “extremists” with affiliations to opposition parties who have infiltrated the otherwise peaceful public protests.


Sri Lanka defence establishment monitoring protests for acts of violence: official

Issuing a statement regarding the incident, Director of Media, Army, Brigadier Nilantha Premarathne said Army Commander Gen Shavendra Silva has asked the IGP to take disciplinary action against the police officers who, according to the statement, had “interrupted” the duty of the Army bikes squad.

“When four motorcycles belonging to the Sri Lanka Army motorcycle team approached the roadblock near the parliament complex, two police officers on duty at the roadblock misbehaved with the members of the motorcycle crew,” Premarathne said.

“A request has been made to the IGP to conduct an immediate investigation and take disciplinary action.”

Premarathne said, responding to the incident, the IGP has informed the Army Commander that appropriate disciplinary action will be taken.

Defence Ministry Secretary Gen Kamal Gunarathne has also instructed the IGP and the Secretary to the Ministry of Public Security to take immediate action regarding the incident. (Colombo/Apr06/2022)

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Sri Lanka bond yields end higher, kerb dollar Rs370/371

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka bonds yields ended up and the T-bills eased on active trade on Friday, dealers said.

The US dollar was 370/371 rupees in the kerb.

“The bond rates went up, however more interest was seen in the short term bills by the investors” dealers said.

A bond maturing on 01.05.2024 closed at 31.90/32.20 percent on Friday, up from 31.25/70 percent at Thursday’s close.

A bond maturing on 15.05.2026 closed at 30.30/31.30 percent steady from 30.30/31.00 percent.

The three-month T-bills closed at 30.75/31.30 percent, down from 32.00/32.25 percent.

The Central Bank’s guidance peg for interbank transactions was at 363.18 rupees against the US dollar unchanged.

Commercial banks offered dollars for telegraphic transfers between 371.78 and 372.00 for small transactions, data showed.

Buying rates are between 361.78 – 362.00 rupees. (Colombo/Dec 09/2022)

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Foreign minister, US ambassador discuss future assistance to crisis-hit Sri Lanka

ECONOMYNEXT — In a meeting in Colombo, Sri Lanka Foreign Minister Ali Sabry and US Ambassador to Sri Lanka Julie Chung discussed ways in which the United States can continue to support Sri Lanka going forward, the Ambassador said.

Chung tweeted Friday December 09 afternoon that the two officials had reflected on the “twists and turns” of 2022, at the meeting.

Minister Sabry was recently in Washington D.C. where he US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

A foreign ministry statement said the two officials held productive discussions at the Department of State on December 02 on further elevating bilateral relations in diverse spheres, including the 75th anniversary of diplomatic relations which will be marked in 2023.

Incidentally, Sri Lanka also celebrates the 75th anniversary of its independence from the British in 2023, and President Ranil Wickremesinghe has given himself and all parties that represent parliament a deadline to find a permanent solution to Sri Lanka’s decades-long ethnic issue.

The US has been vocal about Sri Lanka addressing concerns about its human rights record since the end of the civil war in 2009 and was a sponsor of the latest resolution on Sri Lanka passed by the United Nations Human Rights Council. Unlike previous resolutions, this year’s iteration makes specific reference to the country’s prevailing currency crisis and calls for investigations on corruption allegations.

In the lead up to the UNHRC sessions in Geneva, Minister Sabry Sri Lanka’s government under then new president Wickremesinghe does not want any confrontation with any international partner but will oppose any anti-constitutional move forced upon the country.

On the eve of the sessions on October 06, Sabry said countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom, who led the UNHRC core group on Sri Lanka, are greatly influenced by domestic-level lobbying by pressure groups from the Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora.

These pronouncements notwithstanding, the Wickremesnghe government has been making inroads to the West as well as India and Japan, eager to obtain their assistance in seeing Sri Lanka through the ongoing crisis.

The island nation has entered into a preliminary agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for an extended fund facility of 2.9 billion dollars to be disbursed over a period of four years, subject to a successful debt restructure programme and structural reforms.

Much depends on whether or not China agrees to restructure Sri Lanka’s 7.4 billion dollar outstanding debt to the emerging superpower. Beijing’s apparent hesitance to go for a swift restructure prompted Tamil National Alliance MP Shanakiyan Rasamanickam to warn of possible “go home, China” protests in Colombo, similar to the wave of protests that forced the exit of former pro-China President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

The TNA will be a key player in upcoming talks with the Wickremesinghe government on a solution to Sri Lanka’s ethnic issue. (Colombo/Dec09/2022)

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India smogs out Sri Lanka’s China tower observers


ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Chinese-built Lotus Tower has halved visitors to its observation deck an official said as dirty air flowing from India triggered air quality warnings and schools in the capital closed.

“Masks are mandatory at the observation deck and roughly around 50 to 60 can go up to the observation deck at a time, time limits have not been altered and still persists at 20 minutes for observation,” the official told EconomyNext.

Prior to the smog, 120 observers were permitted at once to the deck.

However, even after limitations the Lotus Tower has continued to draw visitors, and revenues are coming in, the official said.

The tower built with a Chinese loan by the cash rich Telecom Regulatory Commission has been described by critics as a white elephant that eats the money earned from telecom operators mainly as spectrum fees.

Sri Lanka’s National Building Research Organization (NBRO) said India air heavily polluted with particulate matter was flowing across the island into a depression in the South West Bengal Bay. (Colombo/Dec09/2022)



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