Ministers' resignation poses new threat to PA govt.

[TamilNet, Thursday, 13 September 2001, 20:10 GMT]
The political crisis in Sri Lanka's ruling People's Alliance (PA) government took a dramatic turn Thursday with the sudden resignation of four senior ministers. The resignation of these ministers came under severe scrutiny at a discussion held between President and Prime Minister Thursday evening, ruling party sources said.

The four Ministers, S.B.Dissanayake, Professor G.L.Peiris, Mahinda Wijesekara and Jeyaraj Fernandopulle tendered their resignation at a time when President Chandrika Kumaratunge had almost decided to include two of them in her twenty member cabinet, the sources said.

They told President Chandrika Kumaratunge in their joint resignation letter that "the memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed between the ruling PA and the Marxist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) is an obstacle to finding an acceptable political solution to the ethnic problem and the economic stability of the country."

They pointed out to the President that "the MOU between the PA and JVP has no provision to bring peace to the country by finding a political solution to the ethnic problem."

They said that they would not accept any portfolio in the twenty-member cabinet, which is to be sworn on Friday morning. However they assured President Chandrika that "they would remain in the ruling parliamentary group and Sri Lanka Freedom Party, the major constituent of the PA".

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Political analysts said that they have given this assurance to President to avoid expulsion from the government parliamentary group at this juncture.

Sri Lanka's main opposition United National Party (UNP) sources said that these four former ministers would come to their side at the appropriate time soon after the passage of 17th amendment to the constitution enabling the establishment of four independent commissions for police, elections, public service and judiciary.

Ruling party sources said that the 17th amendment is likely to be tabled in parliament on September 18 and would be debated for two days from September 24.

Meanwhile representatives of the PA and JVP held discussions Thursday afternoon under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister, Mr.Ratnasiri Wickremanayake, with regard to the implementation of some provisions of the MOU signed between them.

 

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