He also said that unlike when the former Government was in power, the current Government has the freedom to discuss and even oppose any proposal. The Government today played down a reported clash between Ministers Dayasiri Jayasekera and Lakshman Kiriella during the cabinet meeting held yesterday.Cabinet co-spokesman Gayantha Karunatillake said that there was no clash as reported by the media but only an exchange of opinion. It was reported that the weekly cabinet meeting held yesterday heated up after two ministers opposed the proposed Central Highway. A Cabinet paper presented by Highways Minister Lakshman Kiriella had reportedly led to an argument between three key Ministers.Kiriella presented to the cabinet a proposal related to the Central Highway but two Ministers including Minister Dayasiri Jayasekera had raised concerns on the project. (Colombo Gazette) read more

More than 30 political parties and 12,570 candidates are in the running to sway close to 106-million registered voters who will elect both the national and four provincial assemblies. Pakistan citizens went to the polls a few hours before the blast amid heavy security following the assassination of a candidate. The polls close at 6pm local time, which is 11pm tonight AEST. (Courtesy Nine News) This week’s election will be only the second time since Pakistan became independent 70-years ago that power has been transferred peacefully from one government to another. It all goes to plan.The opposition party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), led by cricketer-turned-politician Imran Kahn is looking to unseat the incumbent Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), which was formally led by the now imprisoned ex-prime minister Nawaz Sharif. The run up to today has been shadowed by increasing tensions over allegations the country’s military has secretly backed Mr Khan.Earlier election violence saw a suicide bomber in Balochistan kill 150 people – including one of Mr Khan’s party candidates Ikramullah Gandapur.The main problem for the ruling PML’N’s campaign is that since the ousting of its leader Mr Sharif who was jailed over corruption allegations, his less charismatic brother has been running the party’s campaign. Candidates from the party claim they’ve been targeted by the military. A suicide bomber struck outside a crowded polling station in Pakistan’s southwestern city of Quetta, killing 31 people as Pakistanis cast ballots in a general election meant to lead to the nation’s third consecutive civilian government.The Deputy Inspector General Abdul Razzal Cheema said the injured have been shifted to the Sandeman Provincial Hospital. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan said it was “gravely concerned” about violence being directed against candidates during the campaign, warning “election gatherings must not become killing fields.” The Pakistan People’s Party is also expected to pick up seats as is the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), an alliance of right wing religious parties.Sixty seats are reserved for women and ten for minorities which are decided on a basis of five-percent proportional representation.About 800,000 security personnel and 370,000 army soldiers are watching over election day to ensure a free, fair and transparent vote for the people of Pakistan. read more

The UN Office of the Iraq Programme reported that since resuming its oil exports on 10 July, Baghdad has sold 6.8 million barrels of oil. The average price of Iraqi crude oil during the week was approximately €25.42, or $21.71 per barrel.Over the past week, nine new oil purchase contracts were approved by the Security Council committee monitoring the sanctions against Baghdad. Those contracts cover 51 barrels of crude, the Office reported. Currently, there are 45 approved oil contracts, amounting to almost 160 million barrels of oil.The value of contracts placed on hold by the sanctions committee remained almost constant at $3.4 billion. During the past week, the committee released from hold 25 contracts worth $104.1 million, while placing on hold 58 new contracts valued at $105.3 million, the Office said. read more