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
July 12,2021

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Tamil superstar Rajinikanth on Monday announced that he has no plans to take the political plunge in the future, and dissolved his political outfit Rajini Makkal Mandram (RMM), formed as a precursor to his political entry. The announcement by the actor came after he met office bearers of the RMM here on Monday morning.

“I have no intention of joining politics in the future. So, I have decided to dissolve the Rajini Makkal Mandram. The office-bearers of the RMM would continue to be part of Rajinikanth Fan Club Association that will involve itself in public service,” Rajinikanth said in a statement.

He recalled that RMM was formed as a precursor to his political party, which Rajinikanth never launched owing to his health. The actor said he called for a meeting of RMM office-bearers as there were doubts about his political plans in the future.

Rajinikanth, who had in 2017 declared that he will contest 2021 assembly polls, did a volte face by announcing his decision not to launch a party in December 2020 citing his “ill-health” as the reason.  

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News Network
July 12,2021

Dubai, July 12: The suspension on inbound passenger flights from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka to the UAE has been extended until at least July 21, Dubai-based airline Emirates said on its website.

"In line with UAE government directives, Emirates will be suspending the carriage of passengers from India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka to Dubai until July 21, 2021. Furthermore, passengers who have connected through India, Pakistan, Bangladesh or Sri Lanka in the last 14 days will not be accepted to travel from any other point to the UAE," the airline said.

UAE nationals, holders of UAE Golden Visas and members of diplomatic missions who comply with updated Covid19 protocols are exempt and may be accepted for travel, the airline added.

The UAE has suspended flights from India since April 24, following a second and lethal wave of the Covid-19 outbreak. In a similar move, on May 13, it also suspended entry for passengers from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka, who, along with Indians, comprise 70 per cent of the workforce in the country. 

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News Network
July 20,2021

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Beirut, July 20: The Israeli military has fired artillery shells into southern Lebanon, shortly after the regime’s aircraft launched a number of missiles at targets near the northwestern Syrian city of Aleppo.

The Israeli army said in a statement that two rockets had been fired from Lebanon at the northern part of the occupied territories early Tuesday morning, setting off warning sirens in the Western Galilee region.

The statement added one of the rockets was intercepted by the so-called Iron Dome missile system, while the second projectile fell in an open area. There were reportedly no injuries or damage.

The Israeli military said it later fired artillery shells at targets in Lebanon. It gave no details about which targets were hit or who was behind the rocket fire.

Back on May 19 and amid Israeli bombardment of the besieged Gaza Strip, the Lebanese territory was targeted by Israeli artillery shells after rockets were launched from southern Lebanon towards the occupied territories.

Lebanese media outlets said the rockets had been fired from the village of Seddiqine in southern Lebanon.

Avichay Adraee, a spokesman for the Israeli military, said in a post on Twitter at the time that four rockets had been fired from Lebanon, claiming that one was intercepted by Israel’s missile systems, another landed in an open area and two others fell in the sea.

Late on Monday, neighboring Syria’s official SANA news agency said the country’s missile defense systems had confronted Israeli airstrikes near the town of al-Safirah, southeast of Aleppo.

No casualties have been reported so far. An investigation is now underway to determine the extent of damage.

Lebanese al-Mayadeen television news network stated that Israel’s target was a factory and research center on the outskirts of al-Safirah. 

Israel frequently strikes various targets in Syria, especially the positions of the resistance movement Hezbollah.

Tel Aviv mostly keeps quiet about the attacks on Syrian territories which many view as knee-jerk reaction to Syrian government’s increasing success in confronting terrorism in country.

The regime has been a main supporter of terrorist groups that have been fighting the government of President Bashar al-Assad since militancy erupted in Syria nine years ago.

Syrian government forces have taken back many areas once controlled by the terrorist groups. 

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