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Tuesday April 23rd, 2024

Sri Lanka Speaker dismisses role of foreign forces in 2022 protests-led regime change

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Parliament Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardana dismissed possible role of foreign forces in the mass protests-led government change in 2022 when the post of president fell vacant after former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled the country fearing for his life.

The Speaker stated this when responding to a request from opposition parliamentarian Wimal Weerawansa to have two-day parliament debate and appoint a parliament committee to find out who were behind the protests, popularly known as Aragalaya and what were their motives.

“I have no information to say that it happened due to international forces,” Abeywardana told the parliament on Tuesday (02).

“I did not see a threat that you mentioned. I only saw a threat where they all came here (to the parliament) and threatened our lives,” he said referring to hundreds of local protesters including “Buddhist monks and other religious leaders”.

Weerawansa’s request was based on a statement made by the Speaker on March 21 after defeating a no confidence vote against Abeywardana.

The Speaker on March 21 said he protected the island nation’s constitution despite he got requests from by both locals and foreigners to go against the constitution and take over the presidency after former leader Rajapaksa had fled the country and later resigned in July 2022.

“SERIOUS INSULT”

In his request. Weerawansa said if some local and international groups had influenced the Speaker to take decision outside the constitution and take over the country’s presidency “it was a serious issue.”

“It is an issue of the country’s sovereignty,” Weerawansa, a legislator who had been blaming a Western diplomat, said.

“It would be a serious insult for the people of this country if we consider it something that had happened in the past and forget it.”

Soon after President Rajapaksa resigned, Speaker Abeywardena had to step in to chose a president through Parliament vote. He himself could have become a president through parliament vote as per constitution. However, sources close to him say he was asked to take over the presidency.

“We need to ask first who tried to influence our country’s sovereignty, who tried to encourage (you) to take decision outside the constitution during that moment and the reason they did it,” Weerawansa said.

“Give us a two-day debate on this in the next two weeks. I don’t think there will be a Presidential Commission appointed, but appoint a parliament select committee with the representations from all the ruling and opposition parties.”

“Then only we will know the power behind that kind of an act.”

RAJAPAKSA’S CONSPIRACY THEORY

Some of Sri Lankan political leaders, mainly from ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) say the 2022 mass protests and regime change were well backed by foreign powers to achieve their goals which could not be possible under Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s nationalist government.

Gotabaya Rajapaksa himself has released a book titled “The Conspiracy: How Internationally Sponsored Regime Change Made a Mockery of Democracy in Sri Lanka”.

In the book, he said there were NGO (Non-Government Organization) related foreign funded liberal political activists, youtubers, and social media activists along with usual opposition associated with various political parties in Aragalaya at the country’s popular Galle Face Green.

“From day one, the so called argalaya was an operation inimical to Sinhala and particularly Sinhala-Buddhist interests, and it was well supported by foreign interests that had much the same objectives,” he said.

“It would be extremely naïve for anyone to claim that there was no foreign hand in the moves made to oust me from power.”

“These foreign powers maintain a permanent cadre of activists to promote their agenda in this country and can at short notice deploy dozens of commentators, speakers, writers to create public opinion on Sri Lanka.”

“Money is just one way of buying influence. Granting a permanent residence visa, giving a scholarship to the offspring of important persons, ‘research’ grants or even a simple foreign trip will even be enough to induce certain people to act against the national interest of their country.”

“Thus we had a toxic mix of foreign money, geopolitical interests and notions of [liberal] ideological superiority all coming together at a strategically appropriate time to achieve the objectives of certain parties in Sri Lanka.” (Colombo/April 03/2024)

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Iran President to open Sri Lanka $514mn irrigation, hydro power project

MULTIPURPOSE: Uma Oya multipurpose development project is the largest since the end of the Mahaweli projects.

ECONOMYNEXT – Iran President Seyyed Ebrahim Raisi will inaugurate an irrigation and hydropower project that was designed and built by Iranian engineering firm and was also initially financed before international sanctions hit the project.

The Uma Oya (River) project will irrigate 4,500 acres of new agricultural land, generate 290 Gigawatt hours of electricity and also provide drinking water, a government statement said.

Sri Lanka had awarded an engineering, procurement, construction (EPC) to Iran’s FARAB engineering group to design and construct the 514 million dollar multipurpose project in 2010.

The project was funded until 2013 with a million US dollar credit from the Export Development Bank of Iran but international sanctions prevented the country from continuing financing, a government statement said.

The project continued with funding from Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka had since repaid 19.3 million dollars of the credit and 35.2 million remains outstanding.

The Uma Oya project has a 120MW of hydro power generators, which can generate 290 Giga Watt hours of energy.

Each year 145 million cubic metres of water will be taken from Uma Oya to the Kirindi Oya river valley after generating electricity in an underground power station.

It will irrigate 1,500 hectares of existing agricultural and 4,500 hectares of new land in the Moneragala district, where crops can be cultivated in both the Maha and Yala seasons.

About 39 million cubic meters of water will be used for drinking and industrial purposes.

Two reservoirs built at Dyraaba and Puhulpola in Uma Oya basin is connected by a 3.98 kilometre conveyance tunnel and water is taken through a 15.2 kilomtre headrace tunnel to an underground power station. A tailrace tunnel takes water from the power station to the Kirindi Oya basin.

The project was originally expected to be completed in 2015, but due to financing delays and later water leaking into the headrace tunnel and the Covid pandemic had delayed it. The project completion date was extended to March 31, 2024 and defect liability date to March 31, 2025.

(Colombo/April23/2024 – CORRECTED Iran President Seyyed Ebrahim Raisi will inaugurate an irrigation and hydropower project that was designed and built by Iranian engineering firm.)

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Sri Lanka state oligopoly allowed to import some black gram

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka has allowed the import of some black gram, by three state agencies, according to a gazette notice issued under the hand of President Ranil Wickremesinghe.

Import licenses will be given for 2,000 metric tonnes of the seed classified under HS Code 7312.31.22 and 29.

Sri Lanka State Trading Corporation, National Food Promotion Board and Sri Lanka Hadabima Authority is to be given import licenses.

Traders have resorted to smuggling some types of black gram (ulundu) mis classified as chick peas, to get over high taxes and import restrictions.

Tamil legislators have also protested the import controls, which they go into several key ethnic foods they consume. (Colombo/Apr23/2024)

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Sri Lanka Foreign Ministry consular division shifted to Battaramulla

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Foreign Ministry said it consular division would be shifted to the Suhurupaya building in Subuthipura, Battaramulla from May 02, 2024.

Document authentication services provided by the Consular Affairs Division in Colombo will be suspended on 29 and 30 April 2024 held transfer the Electronic Document Authentication System (e-DAS) to the new premises at Suhurupaya.

Urgent applications for authentication to the Consular Division in Colombo, or any Regional Consular Offices by 4.15 pm on 26 April 2024, the Foreign Ministry said.

Regional Consular Offices in Jaffna, Trincomalee, Kurunegala, Kandy and Matara will remain open to accept applications.

Authenticated documents will be delivered to the applicants only on Thursday, 02 May 2024.

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