MR warns of attempt to create an Arab spring in Sri Lanka

President Mahinda Rajapaksa has warned of attempts to create an ‘Arab Spring’ in Sri Lanka to topple the government.The Arab Spring is a revolutionary wave of demonstrations, protests, and wars which occurring in the Arab world that began on 18 December 2010 which led to the leaders of Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen being removed from power. On new evidence of wrongdoing in the final stages of the war in 2009, collated by international organisations and media outlets, he said that putting out such reports and videos was their job. “We must not merely look at one side. They must not merely listen to one group and the Opposition [in Sri Lanka]. So they [the Opposition] are trying to get the support of other countries to create an ‘Arab Spring’ here. That won’t happen in Sri Lanka.”Asked whether he would hold the Northern provincial elections in September, as he had told this newspaper, Rajapaksa said: “Yes, we will hold [the poll] in September. That’s why we have postponed the other [provincial] elections too. I did not want to face the criticism that I was doing it only because I had no intention of holding the Northern provincial elections.” The North would have powers which are “not more, not less” than those enjoyed by the eight other provinces. “Had it happened, I would have known [it]. It is obvious that if somebody [from the armed forces] had done that, I must take responsibility. We completely deny it. It can’t be,” he told The Hindu in an exclusive interview. On the coming U.S.-sponsored resolution at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), Rajapaksa said Jaffna was provided with all infrastructure just three years after the war ended. “Who did this within three years? Anybody who has come and seen it has talked about it positively and has commended us.”Even India was “harassed” by the UNHRC over Kashmir, he said. “Sri Lanka is like a volley ball. Everyone is taking turns punching it to cover up their sins.”On the issue of a political solution for the Tamil people, he said that unless the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), an umbrella group of Tamil parties, joined the Parliamentary Select Committee, there could be no way forward. “Without TNA [on the committee], I will not be able to do anything… Earlier, all the leaders gave their solutions from the top. It has failed. The 13th Amendment has failed. Everything has failed,” he said. In an interview with India’s The Hindu newspaper, the President said denied that the Army killed LTTE chief Vellupillai Prabakaran’s 12-year-old son Balachandran. The President said he had not discussed with India its support to Sri Lanka at the UNHRC. “India must know its duty, as a neighbour…, as a friend of Sri Lanka. I can’t dictate to India.”Referring to External Affairs Minister Salman Kurshid’s comments in Parliament on accountability for alleged human rights violations in Sri Lanka, he insisted that Sri Lanka had held people accountable for excesses. “We have filed cases… We have handed down punishments. But this can be done only as per the laws of this country…I have released 14,000 [LTTE] prisoners, who had serious charges against them like murder, after a process of rehabilitation. Had I filed cases against the 14,000 people, what would have happened? I am a Buddhist. We have tolerance and compassion. There are still some more people [of the LTTE] in prison. We are examining ways…to release them.”Sri Lanka’s relations with India were fine after the 2012 vote in Geneva. “There are many incidents to show that the relationship is good. We don’t hold… Indian fishermen who routinely fish in our waters…Thousands of fishermen are crossing and fishing…We sent so many Indian prisoners back home. Despite incidents in Tamil Nadu [where Sri Lankan pilgrims were sent back], there has not been any incident [involving] Indians in Sri Lanka. I understand that there are people who want India to have some confrontation with Sri Lanka… It is all politically motivated,” he said. Rajapaksa allayed fears that MPs of the majority community would hijack the agenda, pointing out that some individuals and parties in the government would not allow it to happen. read more

Vodafone in talks to sell stake in Verizon Wireless and exit US

AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email by Danica Kirka, The Associated Press Posted Aug 29, 2013 4:24 am MDT LONDON – Britain’s Vodafone PLC, one of the world’s largest cellphone companies, confirmed Thursday that it was talking to Verizon Communications about selling its U.S. operations.The U.K. company is mulling options for its 45 per cent stake in the U.S.’s Verizon Wireless, of which Verizon Communications owns the other 55 per cent.Analysts have suggested that Verizon wants to pay around $100 billion for Vodafone’s stake, although reports have said that Vodafone is pressing for as much as $130 billion.Vodafone’s shares were trading 8.14 per cent higher at 2.05 pounds after it confirmed the talks with Verizon.Vodafone, which has wide-ranging interests and is expanding in Europe, has long been rumoured to be interested in a U.S. exit. Talks on a sale earlier reportedly broken down over price and tax concerns.But competition among cellphone providers and other companies moving into the cellphone space is pushing both companies toward a deal, said Ronald Klingebiel, a telecommunications specialist with Warwick Business School.Vodafone also had no control in running its Verizon stake, which made it more of an investment than a base from which to expand into the U.S. market.“This would be a happy moment to exit,” Klingebiel said.Meanwhile, there has been recent speculation that Verizon could enter the Canadian market with the possible purchase of at least one of the country’s smaller wireless players.In July, Verizon said it was taking a look at the Canada.“We continue to explore and have discussions, but at this point it’s really just an exploratory exercise,” Verizon chief financial officer Francis Shammo said a the time.The Canadian government recently eased the rules on foreign investment for wireless companies with less than 10 per cent of the marketplace, paving the way for the entry of Verizon and possibly other foreign telecom companies to set up shop and also buy small Canadian wireless companies.Canada’s big wireless carriers have launched a media campaign to warn that they would be at a disadvantage if Verizon were allowed into the market under the current set of rules.At the same time, Vodafone is pushing ahead with a takeover bid for Germany’s biggest cable operator, Kabel Deutschland, as part of its strategy to dominate media services in Europe, its biggest market.If approved by regulators, Vodafone would gain 32.4 million mobile, five million broadband and 7.6 million direct TV customers in Germany. It has 19.2 million mobile customers in the UK, and it has been under intense competition.Any proceeds from a Verizon Wireless sale would add to its war chest for further acquisition or allow the company to pay down debt.But analysts have been cautious, wary of Vodafone’s track record on mergers. In 2000, in what was the largest corporate merger ever, the company took over Mannesmann AG in a stock-swap deal valued at $180 billion. Many analysts at the time believed the German company was overvalued.— With files from The Canadian Press Vodafone in talks to sell stake in Verizon Wireless and exit US market read more

Ban condemns deadly attack on military post in northern Burkina Faso

A statement issued by his spokesperson said Mr. Ban wishes a speedy and full recovery to those injured in the attack, which was near the border with Mali, and sends his deepest condolences to the families of the victims, to the Government and people of Burkina Faso. The statement reiterated that the UN will remain committed to sustaining peace and reinforcing security in Burkina Faso, while also continuing its cooperation with the countries in Sahel region, as well as the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA). Finally, the Secretary-General in his statement expressed his appreciation for Burkina Faso’s contribution to the stabilization and peace efforts in Mali, and encouraged the authorities to launch an investigation to bring the perpetrators of this attack to justice. read more