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Sunday October 1st, 2023

UNP nominates defeated former Sri Lanka PM Ranil Wickremesinghe for national list seat

ECONOMYNEXT – The United National Party (UNP) has nominated former Sri Lanka prime minister and UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe for the one national list seat the defeated party is entitled to in parliament.

A spokesperson for the UNP confirmed that party general secretary former MP Palitha Range Bandara has submitted Wickrmesinghe’s name to the Election Commission June 16 morning.

The former PM had previously declined a unanimous request from the UNP working committee to take up the seat, calling for a younger member to represent the party in parliament instead.

A source close to Wickremesinghe told EconomyNext on April 15 Wickremesinghe didn’t deem it appropriate for him to enter parliament through the national list as he was decidedly defeated at the polls.

The UNP suffered the party’s worst defeat in its history at the August 2020 parliamentary elections, failing to secure even a single seat barring the one national list seat. The exodus of a faction led by then UNP deputy leader Sajith Premadasa contributed significantly to the party’s spectacular defeat.

UNP Chairman Vajira Abeywardena told reporters in Galle on April 14 that the party leader would be taking the national list slot in two months’ time. With the formal handover of the nomination today (16), Abeywardena’s prediction seems to becoming to pass.

Speaking to reporters outside the Election Commisson on June 16, the UNP general secretary said Wickremesinghe will likely attend the next parliament session.

Asked about the party’s stance on defeated candidates entering parliament through the backdoor, Bandara said: “This isn’t about party policy. It’s about what the country needs at this juncture, at a time when the Treasury says we don’t have enough foreign exchange reserves to last us three months. So you can imaging the state of the economy.”

“People are facing economic hardships. We have to decide who the suitable person for is for this and we discussed as a party and the working committee decided unanimously to send to parliament a person that not just the party needs but the entire country needs,” he added. (Colombo/June16/2021)


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Sri Lanka National Christian Council opposes Online Safety Bill

ECONOMYNEXT – The National Christian Council of Sri Lanka (NCCSL) in a statement on the Online Safety Bill, said that the existing legal regime is adequate to deal with instances of harmful speech, making it unjustifiable to enact such “stringent laws”.

The Council called upon the government to withdraw the bill immediately.

The body expressed “deep concern” over the proposed bill, detailing its potential to curtail freedom of speech and how, according to the Council, the piece of legislature is inconsistent with the principles of democracy.

“The bill proposes the establishment of an entity named the Online Safety Commission without provisions to guarantee its independence and impartiality,” the statement said.

Chapter 3 imposes restrictions on online communication of certain statements, many of which are vague and overbroad, leaving room for executive control and the curtailing of legitimate criticism and dissent that are basic features of democracy, the statement said.

“The laws granting wide discretion to the executive and its investigative agencies with expansive reach have been misused in the past.”

The Council said that the bill was not drafted with the process of public consultation and discussion, which might have ensured the bill would be less draconian in nature.

“The National Christian Council of Sri Lanka calls upon the government to withdraw this anti-human rights and anti-democratic bill immediately.” (Colombo/Sep30/2023)

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Sri Lanka to implement new vehicle revenue licence issuing system

ECONOMYNEXT – A new system of issuing vehicle licences called eRL 2.0 is to be implemented in 5 provinces, excluding the Western Province, from 3 October onwards.

The new system is to be implemented beginning in the North West, South, North Central, Central and Sabaragamuwa provinces, respectively. The existing vehicle licence issuing system eRL 1.0 will continue to be used in the Western Province.

The issuing of revenue licences islandwide at Department of Motor Traffic head offices and regional branches will be temporarily halted on October 2.

The facility of obtaining vehicle permits online will also be temporarily halted on 6 October till midnight.

The Sri Lanka Information and Communication Technology Agency (ICTA) and the Provincial Motor Traffic Departments are working to modernize the current vehicle revenue license issuance system.

The implementation of the new eRL 2.0 system is expected to be an important step in the digitalisation of Sri Lanka. (Colombo/Sep30/2023)

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Sri Lankan Airlines flights cancelled as aircraft grounded

ECONOMYNEXT – State-run SriLankan Airlines has apologized to passengers who were stranded as multiple aircraft were grounded at the same time.

The airline said it has strict procedures which requires aircraft to be grounded when technical issues are discovered.

“Unfortunately, in this case we suffered a number of groundings at the same time,” the airline said.

“We apologize for the disruption and inconvenience caused and assure all our loyal customers that we are working diligently to minimize such occurrences moving forward.”

The airline said it was booking passengers on other airlines while some have been accommodated at hotels. (Colombo/Sept30/2023)

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