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Sri Lanka cabinet moves to clip President Rajapaksa’s powers | Politics News

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Cabinet approves amendment to the constitution in a move to appease protesters calling for President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to quit.

The Sri Lankan cabinet has approved constitutional reforms that will limit the powers of the president in a move aimed at appeasing the protesters calling for President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to quit over the country’s worst economic crisis in decades.

The decision to amend the constitution to clip the president’s wide-ranging powers was taken in a cabinet meeting on Monday, Dinouk Colombage, media adviser for Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, told Al Jazeera on Tuesday.

A draft of the so-called 21st amendment to the Sri Lankan constitution gives some powers back to the parliament and restores independence to commissions in key decision making.

“The 21 amendment was tabled and passed in cabinet today,” tourism minister Harin Fernando said in a tweet, adding that the proposal will now be sent to the country’s parliament where it needs the votes of two-thirds of its members.

In October 2020, less than a year after becoming the president, Gotabaya, with the help of his elder brother, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, had moved the 20th amendment in parliament, which gave the presidency sweeping powers.

The changes then allowed the president to hold ministries as well as appoint and fire ministers. It also made the president the appointing authority of the elections, public service, police, human rights, and bribery or corruption investigation commissions.

Sri Lanka has been ruled under a powerful executive presidential system since 1978, but a reformist government in 2015 clipped much of the president’s powers and gave them over to the parliament and independent commissions, saying successive presidents had been more authoritarian.

As the country reeled under its worst ever economic crisis, largely blamed on the powerful Rajapaksas, President Gotabaya had hinted at giving in to the demands of reducing his powers to assuage the protesters.

The removal of the Rajapaksas from public office had been one of the main demands of the months-long protests over the economic crisis in the island nation of 22 million people.

University students attend a protest calling for the resignation of the president
University students protest calling for the president’s resignation in Colombo [Chamila Karunarathne/EPA]

Economic mismanagement and the COVID-19 pandemic have left Sri Lanka battling its worst financial problems in seven decades, and a shortage of foreign exchange has stalled imports of essentials including fuel, food and medicines.

On Monday, a nine-member International Monetary Fund (IMF) team arrived in the commercial capital of Colombo for talks with Prime Minister Wickremesinghe on how to structure what will be the country’s 17th loan programme with the global lender.

Sri Lanka suspended payment on $12bn of foreign debt in April and is seeking up to $3bn from the IMF to put its public finances on track and access bridge financing.

But public distress at the prolonged shortages is growing. Thousands of students from state universities marched in Sri Lanka’s main city of Colombo on Monday to demand the president and prime minister resign.

The protesters blocked an entrance to the finance ministry on Monday and police had to help out an official due to attend the IMF talks.


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Hundreds of stolen cars recovered in global Interpol operation funded by the UAE

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A United Arab Emirates-funded global police operation targeting stolen vehicle trafficking has led to the recovery of hundreds of cars, trucks and motorbikes and almost half a million stolen cigarettes in just two weeks, Interpol announced on Wednesday.

Operation Carback saw frontline police at seaports and land border crossings in 77 countries use Interpol’s secure global police communications network – I-24/7 – to check vehicles and their owners against Interpol’s databases and instantaneously detect potential criminals or criminal activity.

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Interpol launched its ‘Reducing Vehicle Crime and Theft’ Program in 2016 with funding from the United Arab Emirates via Interpol’s ‘Foundation for a Safer World’, which financed Operation Carback 2022.

Since May 2016, the foundation has been supporting seven key Interpol initiatives by donating $52 million over a period of five years, as part of a contribution agreement between the Foundation and the UAE government.

In just over two weeks, Operation Carback led to the identification of 1,121 stolen cars and 64 motorcycles, the arrest or detention of 222 suspected stolen vehicle traffickers, the detention of eight suspected people smugglers, the detection of 26 fraudulent vehicle documents and the seizure of 480,000 stolen cigarettes.

Officers raided chop shops – places where stolen vehicles are dismantled into parts that are smuggled or sold online – with confiscations triggering further investigations into car crime gangs globally.

Interpol supported the operation by crosschecking information collected in the field against its international databases, with Frontex also supporting the European leg of frontline operations.

Experts from Interpol’s Stolen Motor Vehicles Unit were deployed to key locations to assist national law enforcement with database checks in the field as well as in exchanging, analyzing and acting on operational data.

With the Vehicle Identification Numbers (VIN) typically removed from stolen cars, on-the-ground assistance from Interpol enabled national law enforcement to connect with car manufacturers to identify vehicle origin.

Because stolen vehicles are frequently trafficked to finance and carry out crime ranging from drug trafficking, arms dealing and people smuggling to corruption and international terrorism, the Interpol General Secretariat headquarters is analyzing intelligence gathered during Operation Carback to identify links with other crime areas.

“With vehicles usually smuggled beyond borders and ending up thousands of miles away from where they were stolen, an international operation like Carback is crucial to enabling police to tackle the networks behind global car trafficking,” said Ilana de Wild, Interpol’s director of organized and emerging Crime.

“The main key to the success of Operation Carback is the wealth of information contained in Interpol’s Stolen Motor Vehicle database, and the fact that throughout the operation police in the field were able to access this crucial data.”

Last year, Interpol identified some 248,000 stolen vehicles thanks to the SMV database. More than 130 countries shared their national data with Interpol, and carried out more than 280 million searches.

The UAE has close links with Interpol and in November it was announced that the country’s Major General Ahmed Nasser al-Raisi, of the UAE’s interior ministry, had been elected as the new President of Interpol.

The senior police official will serve the four-year term in Lyon, France.

The new appointment makes him the first candidate from the Middle Eastern region to be elected into the position since the global crime fighting agency was founded in the 1920s.

Read more:

UAE Major General Ahmed Nasser al-Raisi elected as new Interpol President

UAE joins Interpol operation to crack down on human trafficking gangs

Dubai Police arrest international drug lord known as ‘The Ghost’


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Albanian Daily News – albaniandailynews.com

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Albanian Daily News  albaniandailynews.com


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S. Korean police drop case alleging defect in Tesla doors – The Hankyoreh

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