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Sri Lanka Timeline - Year 2017



January 1

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe highlighting the Government's achievements in the past two years in his New Year message said the Government is focused on empowering the people while encouraging co-existence and harmony between all communities.

SLMC, backed by some other minority parties, opposed the new electoral system called the "Mixed Member Proportional System". SLMC leader, Urban Development Minister Rauff Hakeem told that his party was against it because, if enacted, it would be disadvantageous for the parties.

January 2

Minister of Local Government and Provincial Councils Faizer Mustapha refused to accept the report of the Delimitation Committee reviewing the demarcation of electoral boundaries in local Government wards as only three members of the five-member committee has signed the much-delayed report.

Mullaitivu District Court asked the Army to submit the list of LTTE cadres who surrendered to the security forces during the final phase of the war with the LTTE in 2009.

January 3

Task Force on Reconciliation Mechanisms appointed by the Prime Minister on January 26, 2016 handed over its complete report to the Foreign Affairs Minister Mangala Samaraweera.

CaFFE made an open request from the Local Government and Provincial Councils Ministry to publish the report of the Delimitation Commission through a gazette notification as soon as possible.

January 5

The three-day parliamentary debate on constitutional proposals was postponed because some political parties sought further time to come up their stands.

Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu Secretary of CTF on Reconciliation mechanisms said that war victims have no trust in domestic mechanism.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein welcomed the report published by the CTF on Reconciliation Mechanisms.

January 6

Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe said that I have no confidence in the CTF on Reconciliation Mechanisms appointed by the Prime Minister.

Addressing a hurriedly called press conference at the President's House, State Minister of Finance Lakshman Yapa Abeywardene said that President Maithripala Sirisena categorically ruled out the participation of foreign judges to hear or inquire into war crime allegations.

January 8

TNA's Jaffna District MP M.A. Sumanthiran said that TNA is positive about six subcommittee reports on new Constitution.

January 10

Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne said "Deciding on the participation of foreign judges with the investigations on Sri Lanka's war crime allegations and human right violations is a sovereign right of the Sri Lankan Government and will be decided by the Sri Lankan Government."

HRW urged the Sri Lankan Government to adopt recommendations of the CTF on including foreign judges in a domestic mechanism on accountability as stated in the consensus resolution the country sponsored with the UNHRC.

January 11

European Commission on proposed GSP+ trade concessions to Sri Lanka in exchange of the Government's commitment to ratify 27 international conventions on human rights, labor conditions, protection of the environment and good governance.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said the recovery of the GSP+ concessions is a result of the present Government's efforts and dedication over the last two years to protect the rights of the people and establish democracy in the country.

Foreign Affairs Minister Mangala Samaraweera said "Sri Lanka is committed to the implementation of the United Nations resolution, which it cosponsored in October 2015 so that we as a country can deal with the past honestly and truthfully, accept that past, put it behind us, and then move forward to build our Sri Lankan nation anew."

January 12

AI backing the recent report of CTF on Reconciliation Mechanisms called on the Sri Lankan Government to chart a roadmap for the establishment and efficient functioning of the mechanisms proposed by the report.

HRW said that though the Sri Lankan Government was able to report progress on certain aspects and sought technical expertise from the UN and other countries, the UNHRC resolution adopted in October 2015 on the country remained largely unimplemented.

Commonwealth delighted to give technical assistance to the constitutional realignment to Sri Lanka, Secretary-General of Commonwealth, Patricia Scotland said when she met with Sri Lanka's Foreign Affairs Minister Mangala Samaraweera. I

January 14

President Maithripala Sirisena addressing a gathering in the Galle said that the Government will never advocate federalism or division of the country on federal lines.

GTF welcoming the recommendations of the CTF on Reconciliation Mechanisms released on January 3, 2017 has called on the Sri Lankan Government to fully implement the recommendations.

January 15

TNA senior leader Dharmalingam Siddharthan said "If the Government abandoned the idea of finding a solution for the National question, we won''t be part of the Constitution making process and we would be compelled to leave it."

TNA Spokesman M.A. Sumanthiran pointed out any Constitutional Amendment could not be made without a referendum.

January 16

UNP MP Nalin Bandara Jayamaha said that Constitution is outdated and should be changed in keeping with today's needs.

January 17

An alleged fundraiser for LTTE lost his battle to stay in Canada as Federal Court upheld deportation order.

January 17

Delimitation Review Committee reviewing the demarcation of electoral boundaries in local Government wards handed over its much-awaited final report to the Minister of Local Government and Provincial Councils Faizer Mustapha.

Vavuniya Government Agent M.B.R. Pushpakumara said the Omanthai Army Camp and Checkpoint on the A-9 Road had been dismantled after 25 years and the land occupied by the Army was officially handed over him to be given to its original owners.

January 18

Army Spokesman Brigadier Roshan Seneviratne said that Omanthai Army Camp has not been removed but 18 acres of land around the camp belonging to the civilians has been handed over to the Vavuniya Government Agent.

EU said that the ratification and implementation of 27 international conventions signed by the Sri Lankan Government was the only criteria to to re-gain the GSP+ facility.

January 19

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein expressed his satisfaction towards the positive steps taken by Sri Lanka to improve the country's human rights conditions.

January 21

Northern Province Chief Minister C.V. Wigneshwaran speaking during a discussion in Jaffna District said that no skills based training was provided to Ex-LTTE cadres during the reconciliation programmes.

January 22

ICJ called on the Sri Lankan Government to implement the recommendations made by the Consultation Task Force on Reconciliation Mechanisms.

January 23

Joint Opposition MP Keheliya Rambukwella said that President Maithripala Sirisena is attempting to enact a 'Sampanthan Constitution' by cancelling the first three clauses in the First Chapter of the current Constitution.

January 25

Government at a function held in Mullaitivu District handed over another 243 acres of land held by Army to the people in the North. At the function land entitlement deeds were presented to 1,352 families and subsistence to the tune of 100,000 rupees were given to 300 low income families of the District.

January 28

Four ex-LTTE cadres in the Tamil-majority Northern Province were arrested by the TID officials for plotting to assassinate TNA parliamentarian M.A. Sumanthiran.

Minister for Regional Development and former Army commander Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka speaking to the media after participating in a function at the Hadabima Authority said that war crime perpetrators should be punished irrespective of their status.

January 30

President Maithripala Sirisena speaking as the Chief Guest at a ceremony at Ambepussa town in the Kegalla District said that the country will never forget the sacrifices made by the Security Forces and the Police during the country's three decade old LTTE war.

Provincial and Local Government Minister Faizer Mustapha said the Delimitation Committee Report will be gazetted within a month.

February 5

Skills Development and Vocational Training Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe speaking at an Independence Day ceremony in Kalutara District said Northern Province Chief Minister C. V Wigneswaran's moves to establish a hybrid court in the province is a dream which will never materialize.

February 7

Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera told foreign correspondents that the Government will seek more time at the next UNHRC session to investigate war crime allegations against the LTTE which ended in 2009.

Northern Province Chief Minister C.V.Wigneswaran said that Police saying there is a threat toTNA leader Sumanthiran's life is a ploy to station the Army permanently.

February 8 Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera while meeting Colombo-based foreign correspondents said that a new Constitution is the most potent weapon for non-recurrence of Sri Lanka's conflict and would have to be given priority over accountability mechanisms.
February 9

Speaker Karu Jayasuriya informed the Parliament that the relevant authorities have been instructed to take the necessary action to provide maximum security to the TNA Parliamentarian M.A. Sumanthiran.

Leader of the House Lakshman Kiriella in reply to a question raised by MP Wimal Weerawansa on devolution of power in Parliament said that the Government intends to hold a public referendum on new Constitution with the consent of all political parties.

February 10

TPC in a resolution adopted at the Eluga Thamil rally held in Batticaloa District called for an international investigation on war crimes allegations.

February 11 Former LTTE leader turned politician Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan alias Karuna Amman launched a new political party to voice the concerns of minority Tamils in the North and East.
February 13

TNA MP MA Sumanthiran said that TNA is for a public referendum on constitution. He said the TNA is prepared to engage in a meaningful discussion on the issue of devolution of power in the new constitution instead of insisting on words.

UK representative at the organizational meeting for the 34th session of the UNHRC held in Geneva communicated that it is planning to sponsor a new consensus resolution on Sri Lanka at the UNHRC at its upcoming 34th regular session in Geneva from February 27 to March 24.

February 15

President Maithripala Sirisena while addressing a ceremony in Colombo said that he is committed to establish a fair and transparent judicial system in the country.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, who is in Canberra meeting with his Australian counterpart Malcolm Turnbull said that asylum seekers detained in Australia's offshore detention centers can return as it is safe to return to the island now.

Coordinator to the UN Una Makoli and Ambassador of the EU Toolai Margue during a meeting with the Chief Minister of the Northern Province C. V. Wigneswaran on their tour of Jaffna pledged their cooperation to promote reconciliation between all communities in Sri Lanka.

Chandrika Kumaratunga, Chairwoman of the Office for National Unity and Reconciliation, said Tamil women who survived civil war now face widespread sexual exploitation by officials in their own community as well as from the Army.

HRW said the Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull must ask the visiting Sri Lankan Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe some hard questions about how the Sri Lankan Government will provide accountability to victims of war and their families.

February 16

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull offered practical aid for reconciliation measures in Sri Lanka. Turnbull commended Sri Lanka on its strong economic growth and considerable progress toward national reconciliation since the end of the conflict in 2009.

February 17

HRW Australia's Director Elaine Pearson said "Sri Lanka must employ international judges and prosecutors to ensure accountability during trials of those responsible for alleged war crimes against mostly Tamils."

February 18

Army refuted the allegations of sexual exploitation and abuses of Tamil women in the North by the Army during the post conflict period.

February 20

JO claimed that the Government had turned down all proposals made to the Subcommittee on Centre-Peripheral Relations by the JO.

Chairman of the Northern Provincial Council C.V.K. Sivagnanam addressing a media briefing in Jaffna said that TNA will continue to support the Government despite failure to resolve Tamil people's issues.

HRW said that the Sri Lankan Government has not met its pledge to curtail police abuses prior to the March 2017 session of the UNHRC.

February 22

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe addressing a ceremony at Bishop College in Colombo said that Political issues prevailing in the country for over 30-40 years based on the differences in religion and nationality cannot be resolved overnight.

Colombo Additional Magistrate Aruni Atigalla ordered that a former LTTE cadre and three others arrested from the Bandaranaike International Airport when they were attempting to send a cap embossed with the official emblem of the LTTE be remanded till March 1.

February 23

Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development Minister Mahinda Amaraweera said in Parliament that innocent military personnel should not be punished but those who had committed offences should be dealt with.

TNA in Parliament extended its fullest support to the Government in the process of formulating a new constitution while expressing party's dissatisfaction in the Government's lack of progress in resolving the Tamil people's issues.

February 24

Prime Minister Rani Wickremesinghe in a message to celebrate the Hindu festival Maha Siva Rathri said Maha Siva Rathri is a deeply symbolic of co-existence and harmony among all and is also an ideal time for reflection.

HRW called on the UNHRC to bring a credible follow-up resolution to resolution adopted in October 2015. While acknowledging the positive developments, the HRW expressed concern about the Government's actual willingness to fully implement all aspects of resolution 30/1.

February 25

President Maithripala Sirisena at a ceremony in Polonnaruwa District reiterated that there will be no foreign judges in the domestic mechanism which is to be established to probe the alleged war crimes and human right violations during the three-decade long conflict with LTTE.

February 26

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said that Government will bar provincial councils from discussing separatism.

February 27

President Maithripala Sirisena has assured that the lands in Kepapaulavu and Pudukuduirippu will be handed over to the people in the area within two days.

February 28

MP Athuraliye Rathana Thera addressing the inaugural conference of the Sri Lanka National Council said that land and Police powers should be given to the people of the Northern Province.

Delivering UK's statement at the 34th Session of UNHRC in Geneva, the UK Minister for Asia and the Pacific Alok Sharma said more time should be given to Sri Lanka to fully implement the October 2015 resolution.

Eight Parliamentarians of the TNA have written to the UNHRC chief requesting him not to give more time to the Sri Lankan Government to address the accountability issue.

March 1

Minister of Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Medicine Dr. Rajitha Senaratne addressing the weekly Cabinet briefing at the Government Information Department said the Government would proceed with a new Constitution along with a referendum.

March 2

Joint Opposition warned that the separatist groups are capable of arming 15,000 terrorists within 48 hours.

Sri Lanka's Permanent Representative to United Nations in Geneva Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha addressing the 34th Regular Session of the UNHRC said the National Unity Government is firm in its commitment to a zero-tolerance policy on torture.

March 3

A group of ex-LTTE cadres formed a new political party in Trincomalee District. The 'Rehabilitated United Liberation Tigers Front' was formed to get the issues faced by the minority Tamils addressed since the main stream political parties have failed.

UN said that Sri Lanka's slow progress in accountability mechanisms necessitates international participation.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe addressing the ceremonial inauguration of "National Law Week 2017" in Colombo ruled out the possibility of a 'hybrid court', saying it was not politically feasible.

March 4

Rejecting UN's recommendation for a hybrid court to probe war crimes allegations in Sri Lanka, President Maithripala Sirisena said "I have backbone to reject foreign judges."

President Maithripala Sirisena participating at the opening ceremony of the first regional office of the "Tell the President" program at Northern Province Governor's office said a new initiative through a new strategy will be implemented for the development of the Northern Province.

TNA welcomed the report of the UNHRC on the implementation of the 2015 Human Rights Council resolution, and its recommendations.

March 5

Megapolis and Western Development Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka said that LTTE weapons are falling into hands of criminal elements.

March 6

Gampaha District High Court ordered to further detain two LTTE cadres for bombing of a military aircraft in 2000 till March 21.

March 7

Government presented a Bill to ratify and implement the 'International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance'. The Bill seeks to ensure the right to Justice and reparation for victims of enforced disappearances.

TNA urged the Government to take quick action to release all the land occupied by the security forces to the original owners of the land without delay.

March 8

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe told Parliament that the Government will take action against any individual, whether they are military or civil, only if the OMP acknowledges them as forced disappearances.

Acting Foreign Minister Harsha De Silva said that Sri Lanka has been given two more years to implement the resolution adopted by UNHRC in October 2015 without any amendment or new suggestions.

March 9

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said in Parliament that a group of Joint Opposition members joined hands with LTTE cadres to stage a protest against him while he was in Australia when the Deakin University conferred him with an honorary degree.

March 10

GTF urged the UNHRC to adopt a new resolution to closely monitor Sri Lanka's compliance in the resolution HRC 30/1 adopted by the council in October 2015.

March 13

An ex-LTTE cadre and three others were arrested by the Police in Wellawaya town of Monaragala District in Uva Province on suspicion.

Sri Lanka sought two more years from the UNHRC to probe the alleged war crimes committed during the conflict with the LTTE.

March 14

EU Court of Justice delivering the judgment of a case on fundraising by the LTTE in Netherlands rejected an argument by people accused of collecting funds for LTTE rebels that activities by the group shouldn't be classified as 'terrorist acts'.

SFHQ-J Commander Major General Mahesh Senanayake at a ceremony held in Jaffna District to hand over new houses built in Nallinakkapuram to displaced families who were living in the welfare centers in Jaffna District said that Government will continue to provide houses built by the Army to all the displaced families in Jaffna.

March 15

Sri Lanka's Permanent Representative to UN in Geneva, Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha said that Sri Lanka is carefully studying the Report of the Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues and will take action to implement the recommendations in the report in consultation with the relevant stakeholders.

Sri Lanka's Permanent Representative to UN in Geneva, Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha said that Sri Lanka is carefully studying the Report of the Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues and will take action to implement the recommendations in the report in consultation with the relevant stakeholders.

Former members of CTF on Reconciliation Mechanisms appointed by the Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe urged the Government to consider their recommendations and not to ignore the final report.

March 16

Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera speaking at a press briefing in Colombo said the Government could not bring in foreign judicial officers under the existing constitution.

March 17

National Peace Council, an independent and nonpartisan organization working towards peace in Sri Lanka, urged the Government to set a timeline to fulfill those obligations to strengthen its credibility.

March 18

Northern Provincial Council passed a resolution calling for the ratification of the Rome Statute so that Sri Lanka could be hauled up before the ICC if crimes were committed in future.

TNA Spokesman M A Sumanthiran speaking to the media following an event in Jaffna District insisted on foreign judges in the judicial mechanism to inquire into the human rights violations during the last stage of LTTE war.

March 19

A leader Ava Group that committed armed crimes in the Jaffna Peninsula was arrested in the Dehiwela area of Colombo by a special Police team.

March 21

Two members of Ava Group were arrested at Kotahena in Colombo by a team of Jaffna Division Policemen. Police recovered a hand grenade and three swords from them.

Two members of Ava Group were arrested at Kotahena in Colombo by a team of Jaffna Division Policemen. Police recovered a hand grenade and three swords from them.

March 22

Sri Lanka reaffirming its commitment to the reconciliation process and commitments articulated in the UN Resolution 30/1 it cosponsored in 2015, announced that it will be co-sponsoring UN Resolution 34/1 which will grant Sri Lanka two more year to implement the 30/1 proposals.

Sri Lanka reaffirming its commitment to the reconciliation process and commitments articulated in the UN Resolution 30/1 it cosponsored in 2015, announced that it will be co-sponsoring UN Resolution 34/1 which will grant Sri Lanka two more year to implement the 30/1 proposals.

HRW urged the Sri Lankan Government to develop a time-bound implementation plan of all elements in the UN Resolution 30/1 and called on UN member states to remain engaged until all commitments in the Resolution are met in full.

EU, delivering a statement to the 34th Session of the UNHRC in Geneva said Sri Lanka appears to be "turning a corner" on the promotion and protection of human rights.

United States while commending Sri Lanka for the important steps taken since 2015, toward implementing its key human rights, justice, and reconciliation commitments, suggested the Sri Lankan Government to make public a strategy and timetable for implementation of the reforms and commitments outlined in the UN Resolution 30/1.

United Kingdom urged the Government of Sri Lanka to provide the "determined leadership" and a "comprehensive and time bound" implementation strategy to fully deliver on the commitments it made when co-sponsoring the 2015 UN Resolution.

March 23

UNHRC without a vote adopted the consensus resolution on Sri Lanka giving two more years beyond 2017 to fulfill its commitments for reconciliation and transnational justice.

March 24

TNA in a statement said "We urge the Government of Sri Lanka to honor its commitment with regard to these resolutions and implement the same in letter and spirit. In keeping with its commitments, we also urge the government to sincerely address the issues of land release, the detention of Tamil political prisoners, grievances of the families of missing persons, and the enactment of constitutional reforms. The Tamil people have reached their limits of tolerance, and urge that their deprivation and suffering on these several issues be brought to an early end."

March 25

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe at the induction of U. R. L. De Silva the newly elected President of BASL said that anti-terrorism law would be brought in this year as a part of Government's bid to modernize the country's legal system.

March 27 Former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa said war crime investigations backed by some Western countries and the United Nations will exacerbate the differences between Sri Lanka's two main ethnic groups instead of uniting them.
March 28

ONUR Chairperson Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga said that anyone proven guilty of murdering innocent civilians under the pretext of fighting a war will be held accountable.

Prison Reforms, Rehabilitation, Resettlement and Hindu Religious Affairs Minister D.M. Swaminathan said that his ministry has constructed over 11,000 houses in war affected areas.

Foreign Affairs Minister Mangala Samaraweera addressing the media at the Ministry said having foreign judges to investigate alleged war crimes is neither the sole obsession of the Government nor the international community.

March 30

Colombo High Court sentenced a LTTE suspect in Fort Railway Station bomb blast in 2008 that killed 16 people to 20-year-rigorous imprisonment.

The request to summon former Major General Shavendra Silva before the Court in connection with the disappearance of former LTTE leader Sinnathurai Sasitharan alias Elilan during the war period was rejected by the Mullaitivu Magistrate M. Samsudeen.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe speaking at a function organized for the unveiling of a replica of the Aukana Buddha Statue at the Sri Abhaya Vijayashramaya at Suduwella in Colombo said that the National Unity Government is determined build a unitary country with reconciliation among all communities and declares its full support to create religious reconciliation.

March 31

Skills Development and Vocational Development Training Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe at a press conference held at the Information Department auditorium in Colombo said that the Government would not allow any foreign tribunal or judge to inquire into the last phase of the LTTE war.

April 1

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe addressing the gathering at the concluding ceremony of the 'Yovun Puraya 2017' youth camp held at the Meheyzer Stadium in Trincomalee District said that Consensus Government was established to create peace, reconciliation and development.

April 2

Minister of Health Rajitha Senaratne speaking to the media after participating in a function held in Vavuniya District said everyone in the Government including the President and Prime Minister is ready to conduct a referendum on the new Constitution if the need arises.

April 3

Amnesty International in a new report said that Sri Lanka will not break with its violent past until it deals with the cruel history of enforced disappearance and delivers justice to as many as 100,000 families who have spent years waiting for it.

A latest opinion poll conducted by the CPA, a leading public policy research and advocacy think tank in Sri Lanka reveals that a majority believed the Government needs to show better results and the Government has been unsuccessful in informing people about the constitutional reform process.

April 4

Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne said that the Government is responsible for implementing the recommendations of the UNHRC during the next two years. The main objective of the Government is creating a country with devolution of power where all can live peacefully.

April 8

A study from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden has shown that psychosocial programs for children in war-torn Sri Lanka have shown beneficial results.

April 9

TNA leader MA Sumanthiran speaking to BBC Sandeshaya said that the Executive Presidency should be abolished and a new constitution needed to resolve the national issue in Sri Lanka.

President Maithripala Sirisena speaking at the cultural program, "Erabadu Vasantham", dedicated to enhance ethnic and religious reconciliation held at Singakkuliya, Dankotuwa District said that spiritual leaders are instrumental in the reconciliation process.

April 10

Fisheries and Acquatic Resources Minister Mahinda Amaraweera responding to queries raised by journalists at a ceremony held at Beliatta town in Hambantota District said that a special committee comprising the representatives of all parties in Parliament will take the final decision with regard to the Constitution.

Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr. Harsha De Silva said that the Government will be in a position to set up the Truth Commission soon and to gazette the OMP under a selected Ministry.

April 11

The Steering Committee of the Constitutional Assembly decided to let the country's courts of law decide whether the Constitutional reforms require a referendum or not.

SLFP informed the Steering Committee working on constitutional proposals that it was only supportive of constitutional reforms which does not require the approval by the people at a referendum.

April 12

Opposition Leader R. Sampanthan addressing a ceremony to handover houses to people displaced due to the LTTE conflict in Vavuniya District said that issues of Tamils need quick solutions but if the Government fails in giving solutions the people will feel fed up with the Government as well.

April 13

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in his New Year message said New Year is an occasion to strengthen ties between Sinhalese and Tamils.

April 17

TNA MP M.A. Sumanthiran said the Government had assured it would release several more blocks lands occupied by the security forces in the North and East.

April 20

President Maithripala Sirisena said he was ready to abolish or prune down the powers of the Executive Presidency.

TULF General Secretary V. Anandasangaree urged President Maithripala Sirisena to take immediate measures to release all the private lands in the North and East that are still being held by the security forces.

Source:Compiled from news reports and are provisional.





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