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🔴 LIVE – Sri Lanka marks 76th independence Day with grand celebrations

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Sri Lanka celebrates its 76th Independence Day at the Galle Face Green in Colombo from 8 a.m. today. President Ranil Wickremesinghe and Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena will jointly preside over the celebrations on the theme “Let’s Build a New Country.”

Prime Minister of Thailand Srettha Thavisin arrived in the country yesterday afternoon to participate in the national Independence Day celebrations as the Guest of Honour on the invitation of President Wickremesinghe.

The historic Thailand-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement (SLTFTA) was signed yesterday in the presence of President Wickremesinghe and Thai Prime Minister Thavisin, who is accompanied by a 39-member delegation.

The delegation comprises Thailand’s Deputy Prime Minister and Commerce Minister Phumtham Wechayachai, Foreign Affairs Deputy Minister Jakkapong Sangmanee and a high-profile business team.

At the Independence Day celebrations, the national anthem and Jaya Mangala Gatha will be sung by a choir of 100 students.

This year’s celebrations will prioritise the Tri-Services Guard of Honour segments, according to the Ministry of Public Administration, Home Affairs, Provincial Councils and Local Government.

The War Heroes commemorative parade will be held with the participation of 3,042 members from the Army, 917 members from the Navy, 605 members from the Air Force, 299 members from the Police, 209 members from the Police Special Task Force (STF), 379 members from the Civil Defence Force (CDF), 500 members from the National Cadet Corps (NCC), 22 retired officers and 29 differently-abled officers. The parade will display over 100 armoured vehicles, some of which have been locally fabricated and manufactured.

The Police launched a special traffic plan from January 30 for the Independence Day parade rehearsals. Effective from 2 pm yesterday, it covers the environs of the Galle Face Green.

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IMF approves Sri Lanka program review

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The International Monetary Fund has approved a review of Sri Lanka’s program, Foreign Minister Ali Sabry has said.

On a X post, he has said, “This achievement is a testament to our dedication to driving forward economic reforms and securing a prosperous future for all Sri Lankans.”

According to the State Minister of Finance – Shehan Semasinghe, “a favorable outcome from the review is expected to unlock the 3rd tranche of approximately USD 330 million”.

The IMF had earlier said Sri Lanka had made “sufficient progress” on debt restructuring for a review on June 12, despite final deals pending with bilateral creditors and private creditors.

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Another probe related to Easter Sunday attacks

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President Ranil Wickremesinghe has appointed a Committee of Inquiry to investigate the actions taken by the State Intelligence Service (SIS), Chief of National Intelligence (CNI), and other relevant authorities concerning prior intelligence received about the bomb attacks on April 21, 2019. This decision follows the findings of the Final Report of the Commission of Inquiry, dated January 31, 2021, which highlighted that Indian Intelligence agencies and other sources had provided advance warnings about the impending attacks.

The Committee of Inquiry will be chaired by Ms. A.N.J. De Alwis, Retired Judge of the High Court. Other esteemed members of the committee include SLAS special grade Officer Ms. K.N.K. Somaratne and Senior Lawyer Mr. W.M.A.N. Nishane, AAL. 

The committee’s mandate includes examining whether actions or measures were taken by the SIS, CNI, and other relevant authorities based on the prior information or intelligence on an impending attack on April 21, 2019 by Indian intelligence agencies and any other sources and if so, adequacy of the actions and measure taken by the SIS, CNI and other relevant authorities. 

Additionally, the committee will investigate the circumstances surrounding the Directorate of Military Intelligence’s (DMI) and Criminal Investigation Department’s (CID) initial belief that the Vavunathivu killing of two police officers on November 30, 2018, was connected to the LTTE. This belief was held for four months before suspects with alleged links to the National Thowheed Jamath (NTJ) were identified.

A compact disk containing the Final Report of the Commission of Inquiry on the Bomb Attacks of April 21, 2019, has been provided to the committee. The President has authorized the committee to inquire relevant officials and examine pertinent documents to thoroughly investigate these matters.

Ms. Sarathanjali Manoharan, Senior Assistant Secretary to the President, will serve as the Secretary to the Committee of Inquiry. The committee is expected to submit its report, including findings and recommendations, to the President by September 15, 2024.

(President’s Media Division)

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New, free train ride for pilgrims visiting Mihintale (Video)

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Cabinet Spokesman Mass Media Minister Dr. Bandula Gunawardena has said that a new short train ride between Anuradhapura and Mihintale will be arranged for pilgrims during the Poson season.

He said this at the Cabinet briefing held today (June 12) at the Government Information Department.

Since work on the Northern railway line have been delayed, 400 special buses will be deployed to Anuradhapura instead during the Poson season, he added.

Noting that a special railway line from Anuradhapura to Mihintale has been reconstructed,  the minister said that Sri Lanka Railways has been directed to arrange special, free train rides on this line for pilgrims.

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