Sri Lanka minister defects to challenge president

Updated 21 November 2014

Sri Lanka minister defects to challenge president

COLOMBO: A senior member of Sri Lanka’s government has announced that he is quitting the ruling party to stand as the main opposition’s candidate against President Mahinda Rajapakse in upcoming elections.
“I thank the UNP (United National Party) for choosing me as the common opposition candidate,” said Health Minister Maithripala Sirisena, who is also general secretary in Rajapakse’s Sri Lanka Freedom Party.
“I am grateful to the UNP for choosing the general secretary of the SLFP to be their candidate,” he added.
“We will definitely win.”
Sirisena made his announcement at a press conference in Colombo, seated alongside three other ministers and former Sri Lankan president Chandrika Kumaratunga, who is the main patron of the president’s party.
Rajapaksa, who came to power in 2005, declared on Thursday that he will seek an unprecedented third term as president — a move that was only made possible after he pushed through changes to the constitution.
While Rajapaksa remains generally popular with majority Sinhalese voters after overseeing the end of a 37-year war against Tamil separatists in 2009, critics say he has become increasingly authoritarian.
“The country is heading toward a dictatorship,” said Sirisena, who also accused the president of nepotism.
“The entire economy and every aspect of society is controlled by one family,” he said in reference to the president’s brothers who include the speaker of parliament Chamal Rajapakse.
“Corruption is rampant, there is no rule of law,” he added.
Although the exact election date has yet to be announced, it is widely expected to be held in the second week of January.

Minneapolis braces for more riots, arson following police killing of Afro-American George Floyd

Updated 30 May 2020

Minneapolis braces for more riots, arson following police killing of Afro-American George Floyd

CHICAGO: Minneapolis exploded into riots and arson this week after an African-American suspected of handling counterfeit money was killed on Monday during his arrest by two city police officers.

Videos on social media showed an officer placing his knee on George Floyd’s neck as he was handcuffed and being restrained on the street by the kerb. The 46-year-old said that he could not breathe, but police insisted that Floyd was “resisting arrest” and had to be forcibly restrained.

The officer who was seen kneeling on Floyd’s neck was arrested on Friday and charged with murder.

Floyd was pronounced dead at the scene and his family immediately called for an independent probe.

His family turned to civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, who said the family’s first concern was to seek an autopsy independent of the police because of a lack of trust in law enforcement and to give their deceased family member a proper funeral.

“Is it two justice systems in America?” Crump said as he addressed the media. “One for black America and one for white America? We can’t have that. We have to have equal justice for the United States of America and that’s what I think the protesters are crying out for.”

Protests spread across the country and turned violent as arson destroyed property, including the police station where the police officers were assigned.

President Donald Trump denounced the rioters as “thugs” and warned that he might send in the military “to take control.” 

Minneapolis Police handed the investigation into Floyd’s death to the FBI and US Justice Department on Thursday night. Officials from the FBI and US Justice Department promised that the probe would be “robust and meticulous.”

The media’s role in the protests came sharply into focus when, early on Friday, CNN’s Omar Jimenez was arrested along with his TV crew.

CNN anchor Alisyn Camerota, who looked on as her colleague was being arrested, told viewers: “If you are just tuning in you are watching our correspondent Omar Jimenez being arrested by state police in Minnesota. We are not sure why our correspondent is being arrested.”