Mahinda Rajapaksa becomes Sri Lanka's new PM

News Network
November 21, 2019

Colombo, Nov 21: Sri Lanka's former strongman Mahinda Rajapaksa on Thursday took oath as the new prime minister of the island nation after incumbent Ranil Wickremesinghe formally stepped down from his post.

Rajapaksa, the elder brother of the newly elected President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, will function as the prime minister of the caretaker cabinet until the general election in August 2020.

The 74-year-old leader, who described himself as "a rebel with a cause", earlier served as the country's president from 2005-2015, becoming South Asia's longest-serving leader. He was also prime minister for a brief period in 2018.

Gotabaya on Wednesday named Rajapaksa as the new prime minister after incumbent Wickremesinghe announced his resignation from the post following the presidential election debacle.

Gotaaya defeated Wickremesinghe's deputy Sajith Premadasa in the presidential election held on November 16.

Rajapaksa was appointed the prime minister on October 26, 2018, by the then President Maithripala Sirisena, who sacked Wickremesinghe in a controversial move that plunged the country into an unprecedented constitutional crisis.

He resigned on December 15 as two crucial Supreme Court decisions made the former strongman's efforts to cling to premiership untenable.

The apex court later unanimously declared that the dissolution of Parliament by President Sirisena was "illegal".

Rajapaksa became the country's youngest-ever parliamentarian in 1970 at the age of 24.

The two brothers -- Rajapaksa and Gotabaya -- led a decisive campaign that helped end the island nation's three-decade-long civil war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

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News Network
September 16,2021

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Bengaluru, Sept 16: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Thursday paid last respects to veteran party leader and former union minister Oscar Fernandes at the Saint Patrick’s Church in the city.

Rahul Gandhi was received by Opposition leader Siddaramaiah and Congress President D.K. Shivakumar and other top Congress leaders at Kempegowda International Airport (KIAL). He directly reached the residence of Oscar Fernandes on Rest House Road in Bengaluru and met his family members.

Later, he attended the final blessing ceremony organized at Saint Patrick’s church for family and invited guests. He sat through the final ceremony in the church and consoled Oscar Fernandes’ family members.

AICC General Secretary and Karnataka In-Charge Randeep Surjewala and other top leaders also paid their last respects.

Veteran Congress leader Oscar Fernandes passed away on September 13 at a private hospital. An octogenarian, Oscar Fernandes was being treated for a head injury he suffered when he was practicing yoga at his residence. 

Doctors had conducted a surgery on him to remove a clot in his head. However, he never came back from the state of unconsciousness. Fernandes was also undergoing dialysis at regular intervals. He is survived by his wife, a son and a daughter.

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News Network
September 23,2021

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The five permanent UN Security Council members found common ground Wednesday on Afghanistan with officials saying all the powers would press the Taliban to be more inclusive after their military takeover.

China and Russia have described last month's Taliban victory as a defeat for the United States and moved to work with the insurgents, but no country has moved to recognise a government that includes international pariahs.

The Security Council powers all want "a peaceful and stable Afghanistan where humanitarian aid can be distributed without problems and without discrimination," Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told reporters after the meeting during the annual General Assembly.

They seek "an Afghanistan where the rights of women and girls are respected, an Afghanistan that is not a sanctuary for terrorism, an Afghanistan with an inclusive government representing all sections of the population," he said.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and the foreign ministers of Britain, France, and Russia met in person while their Chinese counterpart Wang Yi joined them virtually for the talks of just over an hour.

A US official described the meeting called by British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss as "constructive" and with "a lot of convergence," including hopes that the Taliban respect the rights of women and girls.

"I don't think anybody is satisfied with the composition of this interim government, including the Chinese," the official said.

Speaking to AFP before the meeting, China's ambassador to the United Nations, Zhang Jun, agreed that the five powers all wanted an inclusive government.

"Unity is everywhere," he said.

China has previously criticised the United States for freezing billions of dollars in Afghan assets.

But Beijing is also keen for the neighboring nation not to be a base for outside extremist groups.

Afghanistan was also the subject of virtual talks by the Group of 20 major economies that included the participation of several other nations including Qatar, the hub for Taliban diplomacy.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, addressing the G20, renewed concern about the Islamists' caretaker government which includes no non-Taliban and no women but has ministers blacklisted by the United Nations on terrorism allegations.

"The announcement of a non-inclusive government was a tactical mistake by the Taliban, as it will make it harder for us to engage with them," Maas said.

"It is important that they hear this from all of us. And we should also speak with one voice when it comes to the basic political parameters and benchmarks for any future engagement with them."

The Taliban have requested to speak at the UN General Assembly but the United States, which sits on the credentialing committee, has made clear that no decision will be made before the summit ends early next week. 

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News Network
September 17,2021

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Kasaragod: Nagma Mohammed Mallick, a native of Kasaragod has been appointed as the Indian Ambassador to Poland. She took charge of the office on September 1. Nagma is the daughter of Mohammad Habibullah and Sulu Bhanu, both residents of Fort Road, Kasaragod.

Habibullah and his family shifted to Delhi from Kasaragod after getting a job in the Central Government's Overseas Communications Department. Nagma was born and raised in Delhi. She studied at St. Stephen's College and Delhi School of Economics. She holds a bachelor's degree in English literature and a master's degree in economics.

She started her career in 1991 as a career diplomat in the foreign service. Her first assignment was to the UNESCO Indian Mission in Paris. Later, she worked in various departments of the Ministry of External Affairs. She also served as staff officer to former Prime Minister IK Gujral.

Nagma was in charge of the commercial wing at the Indian Embassy in Kathmandu. She was also an ambassador to Tunisia and Brunei. Her husband is Mallick, a lawyer in Delhi.

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