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Chris Hipkins set to replace Jacinda Ardern as New Zealand PM

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New Zealand Labour MP Chris Hipkins is set to replace Jacinda Ardern as prime minister after becoming the only nominee for the party’s leadership.

He was first elected to parliament in 2008 and was appointed minister for Covid-19 in November 2020.

In Ms Ardern’s shock announcement on Thursday she said she did not have “enough in the tank” to lead.

How long Mr Hipkins will be in office is uncertain as New Zealand holds a general election in October.

Mr Hipkins, 44, is currently minister for police, education and public service.

He will still need to be formally endorsed by the Labour Party in the House of Representatives on Sunday before he can become leader.

Should he receive that backing, Ms Ardern will formally tender her resignation to the governor-general, who will then – on behalf of King Charles III – appoint Mr Hipkins as prime minister.

But the incoming Labour leader faces an uphill battle if he wants to remain in the top job after the 2023 election.

Inflation and increasing social inequality saw Ms Ardern’s popularity fall to all-time lows according to opinion polls.

They also suggested public approval of the country’s Labour Party was similarly low.

Mr Hipkins’ appointment removes the immediate possibility of Justice Minister Kiri Allan becoming the country’s first Maori prime minister.

During her resignation announcement, Ms Ardern – who at 37 became the youngest female head of government in the world when she took office in 2017 – said the past five-and-a-half years had been the “most fulfilling” of her life.

However, she added that leading the country during “crisis” had been difficult – with the Covid pandemic, Christchurch mosque shootings and White Island volcanic eruption taking place during her premiership.

Reaction to Ms Ardern’s announcement was mixed, with some suggesting she was “running away before getting thrown out”.

But renowned New Zealand actor Sam Neill said she had faced “disgraceful” treatment from “bullies” and “misogynists”.

If Labour loses the general election Mr Hipkins will have only spent eight months as the nation’s leader – although the shortest prime ministerial stint was Harry Atkinson’s term in 1884, which lasted just eight days.

(BBC)

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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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