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Boris Johnson resigns from UK parliament

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Boris Johnson, Britain’s former prime minister and one of the most divisive leaders of his generation, has resigned as a member of Parliament after accusing a committee of attempting to “drive me out,” he said in a letter on Friday.

The former Conservative party leader said he was “bewildered and appalled” after receiving a letter from the from a House of Commons committee, which is investigating whether he lied to British lawmakers over lockdown-breaking parties during the pandemic, known as ‘Partygate.’

Johnson, one of the main architects of Brexit, said the letter made “it clear, much to my amazement, that they are determined to use the proceedings against me to drive me out of Parliament.”

The former leader said the committee’s Partygate report, which has yet to be released publicly, “is riddled with inaccuracies and reeks of prejudice but under their absurd and unjust process I have no formal ability to challenge anything they say.”

“I have today written to my association in Uxbridge and South Ruislip to say that I am stepping down forthwith and triggering an immediate by-election,” he said.

Last year, the Metropolitan Police issued Johnson and then-finance minister Rishi Sunak – who is currently Prime Minister – with a fine for attending a gathering in Downing Street during Covid-19 lockdown, making Johnson the first sitting UK prime minister to be found guilty of breaking the law.

This March, Johnson admitted to the committee that he misled Parliament about what happened, but claimed he did so unintentionally.

His resignation means Johnson gets to write the script to the end of his political career himself. Rather than face a by-election – should the investigation into his conduct during the pandemic demand it – or risk losing his seat at the next general election, he will avoid the indignity of public rejection.

The fact he won’t be booted out of parliament but leaves on his own terms will help Johnson and his supporters tell a story: That Johnson did great things in office, was betrayed and then forced from office by people like Sunak. If only he could have come back, the next general election and fate of the Conservative party would be saved, they’ll say.

Johnson’s current approval ratings suggest that might not have been true. But the point is that now we will never know. And that suits Johnson and his acolytes just fine.

In the lengthy statement on Friday, Johnson said he was a victim of “a witch hunt” that was taking revenge “for Brexit and ultimately to reverse the 2016 referendum result.”

Johnson also criticized Sunak’s government, saying that when he left office last year “the government was only a handful of points behind in the polls” but “that gap has now massively widened.”

“Just a few years after winning the biggest majority in almost half a century, that majority is now clearly at risk. Our party needs urgently to recapture its sense of momentum and its belief in what this country can do,” he said.

Johnson’s entire political career was built on his personality. He was the jovial, optimistic Conservative that even a liberal city like London could tolerate as mayor.

His TV persona – part clown; part pseudo-intellectual; part loveable-but-out-of-touch-poshboy – won Johnson fans beyond the traditional Conservative base. He loved being loved, and his supporters in the Conservative party still believe he is a once-in-a-generation vote winner who would romp to victory at the next election if he were still in power.

But Johnson was also desperate to be taken seriously – and his time as prime minister offered him plenty of opportunities. Brexit, arguably his greatest victory, required diplomacy and statecraft that eluded his predecessor Theresa May.

The Covid-19 pandemic put matters of life and death in the hands of national leaders. Johnson was criticized for being slow to act at first. But the UK’s rapid vaccine rollout – made possible by a huge gamble Johnson took – boosted his popularity at a critical moment in his premiership.

Johnson has also played a leading role in supporting Ukraine. So popular is he that some streets in Kyiv have been renamed after him.

This Johnson – the one that wins elections, delivers on the biggest policy issues of a generation, stands tall on the world stage – is the one he will want to be remembered. Not the person who broke his own Covid rules and became a political irrelevance. (CNN)

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“14.3% Surge in new HIV infections in 2023, reveals national program”

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The National Sexually Transmitted Diseases and AIDS Prevention Program states that the reporting of new HIV infections has increased by 14.3 percent.

This is higher in 2023 compared to 2022, director, Dr. Janaki Vidanapathirana, community medicine specialist said.
She said that last year, 694 new HIV infected people were identified, most of them were men, and the number is 611, which as percentage is 88%. Last year, 81 HIV infected women were reported, which is 11.7 percent as a percentage. It is also
reported that there are 4100 infected people in society.

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Sri Lanka to Host Digital Economy Summit in July

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The State Minister for Technology, Mr. Kanaka Herath, announced that the anticipated National Cyber Security Act will be introduced this year, followed by the establishment of the Cyber Security Authority.

Additionally, the State Minister underscored the preparations made for the Digital Economy Summit scheduled to take place in Sri Lanka by the end of July. The summit serves as a platform for fostering innovation, collaboration, and investment in digital technologies, thus propelling the country towards a more resilient and prosperous digital economy.

Speaking at a press briefing titled “Collective Path to a Stable Country” held at the President Media Centre (PMC) today (29),

State Minister Herath further said;

The digital economy, which previously stood at 4.73%, has now surpassed the 5% mark, indicating significant growth.

This expansion has notably bolstered the country’s overall economic resilience. To further enhance this momentum, preparations are underway for the Digital Economy Summit scheduled to take place in Sri Lanka at the end of July. The summit aims to attract both local and foreign investors, with collaborative efforts from foreign embassies, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Ministry of Investment Promotion facilitating this initiative.

Furthermore, a sum of Rs. 50 million derived from the profits of Sri Lanka Standards Institution (SLSI) was allocated to the treasury in the previous year. In line with President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s proposal, a new initiative has been launched to uplift small and medium-sized industrialists, who constitute 52% of the country’s economy. This endeavour seeks to empower such enterprises technologically, offering them Good manufacturing practice (GMP) and SLSI certifications. Additionally, plans are underway to facilitate access to low-interest loans through the Asian Development Bank (ADB), with the ultimate goal of guiding these small and medium-sized industrialists into the market.

(dailynews.lk)

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SC quashes Cabinet decision granting Paget Road residence to Maithripala

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The Supreme Court on Thursday (29 Feb.) quashed the Cabinet decision allowing former President Maithripala Sirisena to occupy his official residence at Paget Road in Colombo 07 even after he left office.

Accordingly, the court stated that an order will be issued invalidating the Cabinet decision taken on 15 October 2019 in this regard.

The relevant court order was issued by Supreme Court Justice Priyantha Jayawardena, with the concurrence of Justices Gamini Amarasekera and Kumudini Wickremasinghe, upon consideration of a Fundamental Rights (FR) petition filed by the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) and its Executive Director Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu.

The petition further sought a court order stating that former President Sirisena had violated several fundamental rights of the public by taking decisions pertaining to his own privileges and rights during his tenure as the President, thereby making him the head of the Cabinet of Ministers.

Announcing the verdict, Supreme Court Justice Priyantha Jayawardena highlighted that the relevant Cabinet decision made by Sirisena was, in fact, unlawful, given that he was both, the President and the head of the Cabinet of Ministers at the time the decision in question was taken.

In their petition, the CPA and Dr. Pakiasothy Saravanamuttu claimed that the residence in question is of great financial value to the country, and thereby stated that such an allocation for a former President was irrational, illegal and arbitrary, and also violated several fundamental rights of the country’s citizens including that of the right to equality.

(adaderana.lk)

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