The Lanka Academic

JULY 12, 2001 EST, USA
VOL. 2, NO. 97

Headline Summary
F R E E      C L A S S I F I E D S
T  O  P      H  E  A  D  L  I  N  E
Elections department has 40 days to implement the referendum
Frederica Jansz in Colombo, 9.40 a.m. SLT Friday July 13. Mr. K. Senanayake, Assistant Commissioner at the Elections Department admitted the department has been pushed into fast forward mode as they hurry to prepare the entire country for a referendum. The Election Commissioner, Dayananda Dissanayake will again adopt certain precautionary methods, similar to his plan in October 2000, to ensure the authenticity of the ballot papers. Senanayake asserted the Elections Commissioner will not consult the government or the President in this regard, but will bring into place certain security precautions at his own discretion.

Going by the electoral list of the year 2000, Senanayake said they were still in the process of counting the number of voters on that list. The forthcoming referendum scheduled for August 21, he said would cost an estimated Rs. 500 million. The money he claimed would be given from the Government Treasury.

Ballot papers would carry the question, do you want a new constitution? If Yes, one is expected to mark a cross (X) in front of a lamp, if your answer is No, then you pen a cross (X) in front of a pot.

The printing of the ballot papers will be done at the government printers and distributed accordingly. Asked if the elections department had been given sufficient time to organize the referendum, Senanayake said "we just have to do it."

Asked how the referendum would be conducted in areas like the Vanni and some northern and eastern regions where voters would find it impossible to cast their vote, Senanayake reiterated that the department would carry out the referendum in the same manner as it did the general elections in October 2000.

Senanayake maintained that the President has the power to lend a minimum of thirty days notice to the elections department to organize a poll. In this instance the department has been given 40 days notice to plan, organize and implement the referendum by August 21, 2001.
Published: Thu Jul 12 23:39:17 EDT 2001

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Lankans fear major showdown in streets
gulf-news, July 12. Opposition parties reacted cautiously yesterday as citizens feared a major showdown with the Government would spill from the parliamentary arena to the streets following the sudden suspension of Parliament for two months by President Chandrika Kumaratunga by midnight gazette effective yesterday. The move was clearly precipitated due to contingencies faced in Parliament, and it appears that what President Kumaratunga is trying to do is to change the composition of Parliament by by-passing a general election. More...
Published: Thu Jul 12 19:15:27 EDT 2001 Back to the top

President's moves to change the constitution is illegal - UNP
Saroj Pathirana in London, Thursday 12/07/01 1740GMT. President Chandrika Kumaratunge cannot legally change the current constitution as she lacks even a simple majority in the parliament , a spokesman of the United National Party (UNP) said. UNP MP Karunasena Kodituwakku said that the draft constitution brought in on 3rd August 2000, was opposed not only by the opposition parties, but also by the members of the ruling coalition. He was reacting to the President?s speech to the nation in which she blamed opposition for not supporting the constitutional reforms, brought in last year.

"She needs two thirds majority in the parliament to change the constitution. If she is trying to bring a new constitution unconstitutionally, she is dragging the country to another crisis" Mr. Kodituwakku told BBC?s Sandeshaya.
Published: Thu Jul 12 13:41:36 EDT 2001 Back to the top

Related News Stories
Lanka Oppn slams dismissal of Parliament  - indiainfo
Parliament suspension unconstitutional: Lankan opposition  - Times of India

PA rebel MP house attacked
Frederica Jansz in Colombo, 9.35 p.m. SLT Thursday July 12. The home of Ananda Moonesinghe, a rebel MP of the ruling Peoples Alliance was attacked today by unknown persons. Moonesinghe, together with 10 other MPs recently informed President Kumaratunge of their dis-satisfaction with the manner in which the government was handling the no confidence motion among other matters.

Moonesinghe is also attempting a cross-over to the UNP. The MP said today that as a parliamentarian he has done no wrong to point out wrongdoing on the part of the government he represents.

Meanwhile, the Mahanayake for the Malwatte Chapter said today he doubted a free and fair referendum would be held in the country.

Opposition parliamentarians have pointed out there is no need for a referendum seeking the people's mandate for a new constitution as the nation has already voted in the positive for a new constitution not once but on consecutive occasions when elections were held after 1994.
Published: Thu Jul 12 11:38:52 EDT 2001 Back to the top

President calls for a new mandate to introduce a new constitution
Frederica Jansz in Colombo, 7.55 p.m. SLT Thursday July 12. President Chandrika Kumaratunge called for a fresh mandate at the August referendum to bring a new constitution. Addressing the nation on state television and radio at 7.30 this evening, the president said the people should give a clear verdict against the current constitution which is the main cause for a series of crises in the country.

"It was brought in without the approval of the people," the President said. She added that the purpose of the new constitution would be to achieve three main aims.

Firstly, to bring about a new electoral system. A mix between the current proportional representation system and the first past the post system.

The president said the current PR system has ensured that no party gets a stable majority in parliament. The President asserted the preference system would also be done away with and a new system introduced. However she did not specify the new system.

The second target was to implement the independent commissions that have been widely discussed today. The President said that the third and important target would be to solve the ethnic problem by introducing clauses in the new constitution that would allow all religious and ethnic groups to live amicably together in the country.
Published: Thu Jul 12 09:58:27 EDT 2001 Back to the top

Related News Stories
Chandrika defends referendum  - Hindu
Sri Lankan president vows new constitution this year  -

Sri Lankan president outlines controversial reforms
Yahoo Singapore, Thursday July 12, 11:49 PM. Sri Lanka's president on Thursday appealed for support for a new constitution designed to help end the country's ethnic war and change an electoral system which she said prompted her to suspend parliament.Facing opposition allegations that she was moving toward a dictatorship, President Chandrika Kumaratunga also promised to trim her own powers if the reforms were endorsed in an August 21 referendum, called after she suspended the legislature to thwart an no-confidence vote against her minority government. More...
Published: Thu Jul 12 13:04:04 EDT 2001 Back to the top
Related News Stories
Sri Lanka president vows new constitution as crisis deepens  - Yahoo Asia
New Lankan constitution - an old idea with a new focus  - Press Trust of India

Hasina Murder Plot-III: How the LTTE deal was blocked and suicide bombers failed to explode
Thenewspapertoday, July 12. Major Alam's brother Najml Amin came up with an idea which was immediately taken note of. Amin is married to a Tamil Muslim from Jaffna in Sri Lanka. And his mother-in-law is an active member of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam's (LTTE) women's wing. Amin proposed that LTTE suicide bombers be hired through his mother-in-law.At a meeting on June 6, 1999 at St. James Court Hotel (see map) in London, the group finally gave shape to the assassination plan. They decided to pay $10 million for LTTE suicide bombers rather than assign the French for half the amount. The logic was that the LTTE was more dependable and it hardly leaves any trace. What's more, Najmul Amin argued, the LTTE would be a better option because of "the sub-continental features" of its suicide bombers. They could easily pass off as Bangladeshis and, hence, could mix with the local populace. More...
Published: Thu Jul 12 13:10:27 EDT 2001 Back to the top

Victim of the Ranatunge assaualt case suffers Psychiatric damage
Saroj Pathirana in London, Thursday 12/07/01 1645GMT. A schoolboy who was beaten up by the cricketing legend of Sri Lanka Arjuna Ranatunge, has been admitted to Angoda Mental hospital after being diagnosed as brain damaged as a result of the attack. The student suffered head injuries and was in hospital for a lengthy period. The boy is among the group of schoolchildren who were allegedly assaulted by ex-cricket captain Arjuna, his politician brother Prasanna and their bodyguards after a dispute over a cricket ball. Ranatunge Family accompanied by the bodyguards allegedly stormed the neighbouring Asoka Vidyalaya after a group of young children had climbed over the wall to retrieve their cricket ball. Ranatunge brothers were charged for the assault by the police.

The assault and the alleged attempts to cover up the incident led to street protests by students from many Colombo schools including Asoka Vidyalaya and Ananda College, Arjuna?s ex-school. Maradana Asoka Vidyalaya?s principal had to close the school for few days as angry parents gathered asked for justice and tried to attack Ranatunge family compound alleging that Food Minister and the leader of the House Reggie Ranatunge, Arjuna Rantunge's father, trying to influence investigations. There are also allegations that the political pressure attempting to stop treatments might have led to deteriorate the boy?s psychological health.
Published: Thu Jul 12 12:46:59 EDT 2001 Back to the top

Asian Age, 13 July 2001. Sri Lanka’s match-fixing tainted cricketers Arjuna Ranatunga and Arvinda de Silva have been cleared by Sri Lanka investigator Desmond Fernando, according to sources in Colombo. Desmond Fernando, appointed probe commissioner by the Board of Control for Cricket in Sri Lanka, has given a clean chit to both crickers for “not having concrete proof”. Fernando’s report will be sent to the International Cricket Council’s Anti-Corruption Unit soon. Both Lankan players are now all set to be cleared by the ICC unit following England’s Alec Stewart. More...
Published: Thu Jul 12 21:35:32 EDT 2001 Back to the top

Western countries and India express concern over Sri Lanka's political crisis
Frederica Jansz in Colombo, 7.30 p.m. SLT Thursday July 12. Ambassadors of western countries and India today expressed concern over the political crisis in Sri Lanka. The ambassadors expressed their concern, quote, "over the part taken by the President and its effect on democracy and governance," unquote, at a meeting with leaders of the United National Party.

UNP leader Ranil Wickemasinghe , Deputy Leader, Karu Jayasuriya and Colombo District Parliamentarian Milinda Moragoda briefed the Ambassadors. "They were concerned and said they were watching the situation closely," Moragoda told Lacnet News.
Published: Thu Jul 12 09:39:37 EDT 2001 Back to the top

The central committee of the SLFP to meet tomorrow in emergency sessions
Frederica Jansz in Colombo, 7 p.m. SLT Thursday July 12. The Central Committee of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party is to meet tomorrow in emergency sessions. The meeting is to be chaired by party president Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunge. The CC is expected to endorse the Presidents decision to prorogue parliament and call for a referendum on August 21. However all eyes will be on Samurdhi Minister and SLFP General Secretary, S. B. Dissanayake to see whether he will attend the meeting.

Mr Dissanayake is leading a group of SLFP MPs who want to form a government with the Opposition. Mr. Dissanayake walked out of the last cabinet meeting, yesterday.
Published: Thu Jul 12 09:39:39 EDT 2001 Back to the top

Opposition parliamentary leaders to meet Speaker to ask for summoning of Parliament
Frederica Jansz in Colombo, 6.45 p.m. SLT Thursday July 12. Leaders of all political parties in the opposition are to meet parliamentary speaker Anura Bandaranaike tomorrow morning to request him to summon Parliament ignoring the two month prorogation by President Kumaratunge.

Opposition sources said even if the Speaker rejects the request the party leaders were considering whether to meet in parliament and conduct business in defiance of the prorogation.
Published: Thu Jul 12 09:39:38 EDT 2001 Back to the top

Business leaders call for national government
Frederica Jansz in Colombo, 5 p.m. SLT Thursday July 12. The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce today called on all political parties to come together to solve the burning problems of the country. In a statement issued today the chamber said a solution to the ethnic crisis was a pre-requisite to solve the economic crisis and said all political parties should now get together to achieve this.
Published: Thu Jul 12 09:39:38 EDT 2001 Back to the top

Chandrika vows to abolish Executive Presidency and PR system: New Constitution to be enacted by year end.
Roy Mendis in Colombo, 7.15 PM SLT Thursday July 12, 2001. President Chandrika Kumaratunga today vowed to abolish the all powerful Executive Presidency and jettison the Proportional Representation (PR) system through a new constitution, which she said, should be in place by the end of this year.

Appealing to the people over the state run Rupavahini TV to vote for a new constitution in the August 21 referendum, the President said that she did not need the awesome power bestowed on the Executive President by the 1978 constitution."I am committed to abolishing it," she said.All honest and right thinking sections of society would be consulted on the features of the new constitution before enacting it by year end.

Justifying the prorogation of parliament and also the ordering of a referendum on the need for a new constitution,Mrs.Kumaratunga said that the present turbulence in parliament was due to the electoral system stipulated in the 1978 constitution.The Proportional Representation (PR) system that it introduced would prevent any party from forming a stable government.A change in the electoral system was,therefore,imperative, she said.
Published: Thu Jul 12 09:27:54 EDT 2001 Back to the top

Milk producers reject request to reduce prices
Frederica Jansz in Colombo, 7.50 p.m. SLT Thursday July 12. Milk produces have rejected a request by a government cabinet committee to reduce milk prices by cutting advertising and packaging costs.

Producers said even if advertising is reduced to zero, cost reduction would be only Rs. 1.25 per packet of milk.
Published: Thu Jul 12 09:39:39 EDT 2001 Back to the top

United States Pacific Command Transcript
US Embassy, 13 July 2001. It's good to be here in Sri Lanka. This is my first visit to Sri Lanka itself, although I've made a couple of previous visits to South Asia -- to India, Bangladesh, Nepal, some of the other countries here, but this is my first chance to be in your beautiful country. The purpose of the visit is to see with my own eyes and hear with my own ears what's going on in this country from my military colleagues and the other leaders. Unfortunately it's a shorter visit than it should be. I don't have much time to get around the country. But so far this morning, I've had good talks with both General Daluwatte and his Service Chief colleagues, with the Foreign Minister, the Deputy Defense Minister, and with the President. More...
Published: Thu Jul 12 21:25:52 EDT 2001 Back to the top

Sri Lanka ruling party wants to oust Muslim defectors from parliament, Jul 12 2001 15:40 IST. COLOMBO, July 12 (AFP) - Sri Lanka's ruling coalition Thursday launched action to sack from parliament seven Muslim legislators who defected from the government and cost it its majority. The ruling People's Alliance (PA) general secretary, D.M. Jayaratne, said he had asked the seven to explain why they abandoned President Chandrika Kumaratunga's coalition on June 20 for the opposition, plunging the government into deep political crisis. More...
Published: Thu Jul 12 08:13:11 EDT 2001 Back to the top

SB is the lone dissenter
Roy Mendis in Colombo, 3.55 PM SLT Thursday,July 12, 2001. Contrary to press reports that four Sri Lankan ministers had walked out of Wednesday's cabinet meeting, protesting against the clandestine way in which President Kumaratunga decided to prorogue parliament and hold a referendum on the need for a fresh constitution, only one minister did.

The lone dissenter was Samurdhi Minister and Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) General Secretary Mr.S.B.Dissanayake.

Cabinet ministers told this correspondent that Mr.Mahinda Wijesaekara had excused himself because he had to attend a funeral,and Mr.Arumugam Thondaman went out to mollify Mr.Dissanayake but came back when he did not succeed.Prof.G.L.Peiris did not walk out,but made a seminal contribution to the proceedings by suggesting ways to make the referendum a meaningful exercise.

Admittedly, the meeting was stormy, because the issues were grave.The ministers expressed their political fears and their moral dilemmas,openly.But the President was able to convince them of the constitutional and legal validity of her decisions and explained the circumstances in which such decisions had to be taken.As minister Athuada Seneviratne put it,there was no option but to act in the way the President did if the government was to be saved.She was persuasive on the political soundness of the decisions also.

The PA's parliamentary group also went through the motions, only to come to the same conclusion.The group then adopted a formal resolution,proposed by Mr.Richard Pathirana and seconded by Mr.Douglas Devananda,which ran as follows:" We,the Ministers,Deputy Ministers and Parliamentarians of the Government Party,in our role as peoples' politicians,propose to extend our blessings and maximum support to Her Excellency the President and place our full confidence in her in carry out any campaign to suppress the treacherous,conspiratorial moves by Opposition political parties who have become the political tools of opportunists and conspirators who have no idea of the mandate given by the people to establish democracy in this country where democracy prevailed only in name for nearly two decades and by certain persons in the media business,who do not have an iota of feeling for peoples' aspirations."

Asked if the rebellious Mr.Dissanayake would defect to the UNP and if he was going to be replaced as SLFP General Secretary by Mr.Mangala Samaraweera,cabinet ministers said that there was little or no chance of Mr.Dissanayake's quitting.He had fought with the President before and patched up.He was a committed SLFPer,who would also not be accepted in the UNP.

Meawhile, leaders of the opposition parties tried to meet the Speaker Mr.Anura Bandaranaike to urge him to disregard the Presidential Proclamation proroguing parliament and to convene the house for taking up the no-confidence motion.But the Speaker was not there.He would meet them on friday at 9.30 am in his official residence on Galle Road.The opposition's argument is that the President cannot prorogue the house when there is a no-trust motion on the table.

But government supporters say that the constitution is clear that it is the President's prerogative to summon,prorogue,or dissolve parliament.Also, there is no bar on the house taking up the no-trust vote after the prorogation ends on September 7.But obviously,the opposition is worried about losing momentum as a result of the prorogation and wants the debate here and now.
Published: Thu Jul 12 05:57:05 EDT 2001 Back to the top

Sibling rivalry at the fore as Sri Lanka crisis deepens
Yahoo Asia, Thursday, July 12 3:41 PM SGT . Sri Lanka's political crisis deepened Thursday as the opposition pushed parliamentary speaker Anura Bandaranaike into a showdown with his estranged sister, President Chandrika Kumaratunga. Leaders of all opposition parties, who together command a majority in the 225-member assembly, demanded that Bandaranaike disregard his sister's decree that parliament be suspended for two months. More...
Published: Thu Jul 12 05:22:06 EDT 2001 Back to the top
Related News Stories
Lanka parliament heads for showdown with President  - Times of India (Breaking News)

Opposition Calls Sri Lankan Leader A Dictator
Yahoo Singapore, Thursday July 12, 7:41 PM. Sri Lanka's main opposition group sharply criticized President Chandrika Kumaratunga Thursday for suspending parliament, saying she did it to escape a no-confidence vote she would have lost."This is a death knell to democracy and the first step toward dictatorship," the main opposition United National Party said. More...
Published: Thu Jul 12 09:31:35 EDT 2001 Back to the top

The Lanka Academic, July 10.

Dear Readers.

President Chandrika Kumaranatunge has suspended the Parliament for a period of 60 days and called for a referendum for a direct mandate from the electorate for constitutional changes.Please share your thoughts and comments on this interesting political development with your fellow readers by using the Letters to the Editor feature on the front page. Please be civilized and succinct in your comments. Do not use profanities, swear words or derogatory terms. In short do not use any word,term or slang you would not use in polite company. Also please provide a verifiable email address.

Thank You

The Lanka Academic Team

Published: Wed Jul 11 09:44:02 EDT 2001 Back to the top

Sri Lanka's very own GI Janes
Asia Times, Thursday, July 12th 14:45GMT. VAVUNIYA, Sri Lanka - Lasantha Sumathipala joined the Sri Lankan army two years ago without telling her parents, fearing they would oppose the move. Now, they have come to accept what she's doing - helping the state fight the 18-year-old Tamil Tiger insurgency. "My parents now believe that women, too, have a duty towards their country, like the men," she said as she patrolled the Jaffna-Kandy road in the northern Vavuniya district with her colleagues. More...
Published: Thu Jul 12 10:45:46 EDT 2001 Back to the top

Sri Lanka arrests two soldiers over rape, Jul 12 2001 15:34 IST. COLOMBO, July 12 (AFP) - Sri Lanka's military police have arrested two soldiers in connection with the alleged rape of a Tamil woman in the northern peninsula of Jaffna, the defence ministry said Thursday. The two men have been handed over to the local police, who will carry out further investigations into last week's attack on a 42-year-old woman, the ministry said in a statement. More...
Published: Thu Jul 12 08:11:08 EDT 2001 Back to the top
Related News Stories
Sri Lanka soldiers arrested for Jaffna rape  - MSNBC

Sri Lanka press slams Kumaratunga over parliament suspension
Yahoo Asia, Thursday, July 12 1:57 PM SGT . Sri Lanka's newspapers Thursday lambasted President Chandrika Kumaratunga for suspending parliament to avoid the collapse of her government and warned the country was heading for further turmoil. In an editorial headlined "Unbridled arrogance", the privately-run Island newspaper said Kumaratunga's move to prorogue parliament on Tuesday was clearly aimed at avoiding a vote of no confidence brought by the opposition. More...
Published: Thu Jul 12 03:55:13 EDT 2001 Back to the top

Chandrika plans constitutional ploy
The Hindustan Times, july 11. Thwarted from pushing through its no-trust motion by Tuesday's presidential proclamation proroguing Parliament till September 7, Sri Lanka's Opposition United National Party (UNP) has vowed to take the issue to the streets and get President Chandrika Kumaratunga impeached. "The President has wantonly subverted Parliament and prorogued the House when it was to take up the no-trust motion. The announcement of a referendum on a new constitution on August 21 is only a smokescreen to hide the truth. More...
Published: Wed Jul 11 19:02:39 EDT 2001 Back to the top
Related News Stories
Move akin to establishing a dictatorship? : Oppn pillories Chandrika's decision  - Deccan Herald
Power game: Chandrika repeats black history  - The Indian Express

Hasina Murder Plot-II: How former Bangla Army officers hatched plan in Europe
TheNewsPapertoday, July 11. The arrest of ISI agent Manoj Srivastav has blown the lid off a fresh plot to eliminate Sheikh Hasina in the Netherlands after one meticulously drawn-up plan involving the LTTE, the militant outfit operating in Sri Lanka, failed last year. The new strategy evolved at a meeting at Breda (see map), a small town in southern Holland on March 7 at a restaurant owned by A.K.M. Mohiuddin (see Rogues' Gallery), an Army officer-turned-diplomat, who left his job in the Bangladesh embassy in the Hague to escape arrest on the charge of taking part in the killing of Hasina's father, Sheikh Mujibur Rehman. More...
Published: Wed Jul 11 22:11:10 EDT 2001 Back to the top

Sri Lanka Bank modernises with loan from World Bank, Jul 12 2001 15:57 IST. COLOMBO, July 12 (AFP) - Sri Lanka's Central Bank Thursday announced a 42 million dollar modernisation plan backed by an interest-free World Bank loan and a grant from a Swedish aid agency. The International Development Agency of the World Bank signed an agreement with the Central Bank Thursday to give 30.3 million dollars for the four-year restructuring program, the bank said in a statement. More...
Published: Thu Jul 12 08:14:06 EDT 2001 Back to the top

Sri Lanka Pvt Sector Calls For Govt Of Natl Unity
Yahoo Singapore, Thursday July 12, 4:37 PM. COLOMBO (Dow Jones)--Sri Lanka's private sector Thursday urged the government and other political parties to unite and form a government of national unity in a bid to mend the shaky economy. The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, which counts more than 500 key companies among its members, said in a statement that all political parties in parliament should cooperate to settle a series of issues, including the northeast conflict. More...
Published: Thu Jul 12 06:57:18 EDT 2001 Back to the top
Related News Stories
Sri Lanka Says Privatization Unfazed By Political Woes  - Yahoo Singapore
Sri Lanka Shrs End Flat; Investors Watch Political Devts  - Yahoo Singapore

Four cabinet ministers walk out in disgust
Frederica Jansz in Colombo, 5.40 p.m. SLT Wednesday July 11. Four cabinet ministers today walked out in disgust from a cabinet meeting summoned by President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunge this morning.

Prof. G L Peiris, Minister for Constitutional Affairs was the first to verbally express his protest at the meeting when he chided the President for not informing or consulting him before deciding to prorogue parliament with effect from midnight yesterday. "There is no purpose in my being the Minister for Constitutional Affairs, if you can arbitrarily go ahead and take such a decision without informing me," the Minister allegedly said before leaving the meeting.

The Minister allegedly knew nothing until he had received a phone call from the JVPs Publicity Secretary, Wimal Weeravansha, in the early hours of this morning asking if he, (Peiris) was aware of the president's midnight decision.

The minister was followed out by Ministers S. B. Dissanayake, Mahinda Wijeysekera and Arumugam Thondaman who have also expressed their anger at what they term is an unconstitutional and undemocratic decision by Kumaratunge.
Published: Wed Jul 11 07:40:26 EDT 2001 Back to the top

Related News Stories
Suspension of parliament triggers turmoil in Lanka  - Dawn
Suspension of Sri Lanka parliament trigger more turmoil  - Yahoo Asia

President Kumaratunga suspends parliament.
Leo de Lile in Colombo, 11.50am SLT, July 11, 2001. A worker sweeps the roadside as Colombo residents walk pass posters supporting President Chandrika Kumaratunga on Wednesday morning, few hours after she prorogued parliament for two months and ordered a national referendum on August 21 to seek a direct mandate from the people for a new constitution. The dramatic midnight move, which would effectively pre-empt the opposition attempt to defeat the government through a no-confidence motion, came just hours after the joint opposition handed in a petition signed by 115MPs, a clear majority in the 225 seat parliament. The step is seen as a political move by the president to avoid an embarrassing defeat later this month in the parliament where her 9 month old coalition has been reduced to a minority with only 109 seats. More...
Published: Wed Jul 11 02:10:49 EDT 2001 Back to the top

Canadian envoys deceived by Tigers
National Post, July 11. A South Asian terrorist leader convinced Canadian diplomats he wanted to make peace while his forces were secretly mobilizing for combat, newly released government documents show.After meeting with the second-in-command of the Tamil Tigers at a jungle hideout, Canadian foreign affairs staff sent a dispatch to Ottawa on May 4 saying the terrorists were "genuinely committed" to peace talks.A few weeks later, however, a huge military buildup was detected by the Sri Lankan government, which claimed the Tigers were amassing their firepower for a major offensive to capture the country's north. More...
Published: Wed Jul 11 13:07:19 EDT 2001 Back to the top

Mangala Samaraweera to be SLFP Secretary General?
Saroj Pathirana in London, Wednesday 11/07/01 1130GMT. Urban Development Minister and President Kumaratunge’s closest ally Mangala Samaraweera is to be appointed as Sri Lanka Freedom Party’s (SLFP) new secretary general, the political sources revealed. Parliamentary Affairs and Samurdhi minister S.B.Dissanayake, who currently holds the party’s key post is to be replaced and will be sacked from the portfolio, too. There are strong speculations that ministers G.L.Peiris, Maithreepala Sirisena and Jeyaraj Fernandopullai, who earlier had discussions with main rival United National Party (UNP) to form a "National Government" will also be sacked from the cabinet.

"They have had secret talks with UNP to impeach the president. The UNP is still considering the possibility of an impeachment" Ravaya journalist Jayasiri Jayasekara told The Lanka Academic. According to the reliable sources angry minister S.B. Dissanayake , one time another very close ally of the President, has walked away from this morning’s cabinet meeting held after suspension of the parliament for two months.
Published: Wed Jul 11 07:31:59 EDT 2001 Back to the top

PA says cabinet with President amid dispute reports
Tamilnet, July 11. The government Parliamentary group and the cabinet Wednesday unanimously expressed ?their fullest support and confidence on President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunge.Minister Mr. Richard Pathirana proposed the vote of confidence on the President at parliamentary group meeting. Minister Mr. Douglas Devananda seconded it. They said the President was finally consolidating democracy in the country which almost for two decades was democratic only in name, the State - run Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation reported in its evening news bulletin. More...
Published: Wed Jul 11 11:55:21 EDT 2001 Back to the top

Chandrika has to seek refuge in JR’s constitution which she herself condemned - Vasudeva
Island, 12 July 2001. Democratic Left Front National Organiser Vasudeva Nanayakkara in a statement issued yesterday stated that President Chandrika Kumaratunga unable to face a no-faith motion has fallen back on J.R’s constitution which herself slated. The statement added: "Madam Kumaratunga has resorted to her black magic again. Unable to face Parliament on the no confidence motion of the opposition she has now brought forth a referendum from her hat. More...
Published: Thu Jul 12 01:13:53 EDT 2001 Back to the top

UNP says prorogation - first step to dictatorship
Frederica Jansz in Colombo, 2 p.m. SLT Wednesday July 11. The main opposition United National Party (UNP) today claimed that the prorogation of parliament was the first step to a dictatorship. UNP Leader, Ranil Wickremasinghe said for President Chandrika Kumaratunge to have taken this decision even without consulting her entire cabinet of ministers only proved the country is fast moving towards a dictatorship.

Wickremasinghe alleged the president's decision is unconstitutional and undemocratic since the government is in the minority among its members in parliament.
Published: Wed Jul 11 04:08:37 EDT 2001 Back to the top

Plebiscite for constitutional reforms in August- Government statement
PRIU- The SL government website, July 11. Sri Lanka will conduct a referendum next month to ascertain the public viewpoint for constitutional reforms. President Kumaratunga issued a proclamation at midnight July 10, for the conduct of the referendum on August 21, 2001. The President has invoked the provisions of Article 86, which permit her to submit to the People by Referendum any matter, which in the opinion of the President is of national importance. More...
Published: Wed Jul 11 11:48:29 EDT 2001 Back to the top

Sri Lanka president 'undemocratic'
BBC, 12 July 2001. Opposition parties in Sri Lanka have attacked a move by President Chandrika Kumaratunga to suspend parliament for two months. The decision was an apparent attempt to save her nine-month-old coalition from defeat in a no-confidence vote. But on Wednesday the opposition hit back, calling the president's move undemocratic. "We will challenge this unexpected travesty of democracy on the streets," Ravi Karunayake of the main opposition United National Party said. More...
Published: Thu Jul 12 00:17:28 EDT 2001 Back to the top

Sri Lanka Shares Early -2: Blue Chips Lead Losers
yahoo, July 10. Sri Lanka shares opened lower Wednesday as retailers sold stocks after President Chandrika Kumaratunga suspended the legislature midnight Tuesday, brokers said. The move stalls a no-confidence vote against Kumaratunga's People's Alliance government - reduced to a minority in parliament - motioned by the main opposition United National Party, which local market players perceive as being more investor-friendly. More...
Published: Wed Jul 11 11:06:40 EDT 2001 Back to the top

Sri Lankan President to Seek Direct Mandate From People
People's Daily, 11 July. Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga has decided to seek a direct mandate from the people by way of a referendum on August 21 to change the constitution. At the proposed referendum Kumaratunga will ask the people if they agree with the proposal that Sri Lanka needs a new Constitution which is a nationally important and an essential requirement. In a communique issued late last night the government alleged that the main reason for the present crisis in parliament was the 1978 Constitution. Although the government had won more than two- thirds of the parliamentary seats at the last two elections that mandate was not properly reflected in Parliament due to the prevailing electoral system associated with he constitution. Earlier efforts by Kumaratunga were stalled through a lack of a two-thirds majority in Parliament which the opposition refused to accommodate. More...
Published: Wed Jul 11 07:57:22 EDT 2001 Back to the top

Sri Lanka's daughter of destiny battles MPs
Yahoo Asia, Wednesday, July 11 5:05 PM SGT . Sri Lanka's President Chandrika Kumaratunga romped to power promising peace. But seven years later she is still fighting Tamil rebels and now she has opened up a second battle front against the national parliament. he scion of two Sri Lankan prime ministers, who is regarded by loyalists as Sri Lanka's daughter of destiny, Kumaratunga is now firmly embroiled in a bitter power struggle with a parliament where her party has lost its majority. Opposition allegations Wednesday that she was moving towards a dictatorship with her decision to suspend parliament were in sharp contrast to the international praise she earned when she first came to power in 1994 and extended a hand of friendship to the Tamil Tigers. More...
Published: Wed Jul 11 06:03:18 EDT 2001 Back to the top

Elections department taken unawares
Frederica Jansz in Colombo, 1.55 p.m. SLT Wendesday July 11. The Elections department was taken completely unawares this morning after President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunge decided to suddenly prorogue parliament last night.

Confused election commissioners when asked for further details about the August 21 referendum, could only say that the year 2000 electoral register would be used for the forthcoming referendum. "We were only told this morning about the referendum," Mr. Senanayake, Assistant Elections Commissioner said, adding it was impossible at this stage to even ascertain how much a referendum would cost the nation.

Opposition parliamentarians trying to get over the blow dealt by Kumaratunge, claimed the country could ill afford a referendum or an election. A limping economy has hit hard at the stomachs of a nation staggering to meet rising price hikes in all essential items.
Published: Wed Jul 11 04:08:36 EDT 2001 Back to the top

Opposition parties condemn prorogation
Frederica Jansz in Colombo, 1.20 p.m. SLT Wednesday July 11. Opposition parties today vehemently condemned the prorogation of parliament by President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunge last night. The Tamil political parties comprising of the All Ceylon Tamil Congress and the Tamil United Liberation Front stated the President's action was a total violation of parliamentary democracy.

Facing defeat, after a no confidence motion with 115 signatures from opposition parliamentary members was handed over to Speaker Anura Bandaranaike, the government was placed in the minority with only 109 members.

Rauf Hakeem, Leader for the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress also condemned the move by the president, claiming however that it only proved the government was already defeated in the face of an overpowering challenge.

Tilak Karunaratne, Leader for the Sihala Urumaya said "We feel, we have been betrayed." He asserted however that Kumaratunge by prorogation of Parliament has only shown defeat in the fact of a majority opposition.

The president meanwhile asserts that a referendum is necessary at this stage to ascertain and evaluate the will of the people to help formulate a new constitution.

Under section 86 of the constitution, the president used the powers given to suspend parliament without dissolving it. Claiming that a "new political era has dawned" the president today said that the people were not adequately represented in Parliament and this was why she has decided to hold a referendum which will reflect the will of the people.

The peoples mandate she claimed had been seriously flawed, while some individuals, with ulterior political motives were creating chaos in parliament.

The referendum will be held on August 21, 2001.

Kumaratunge made her lightening decision in the presence of only four of her most trusted ministerial confidantes. Ministers Mangala Samaraweera, Lakshman Kadirgamar, Sarath Amunugama and Premier Rathnasiri Wickremanayake were the only individuals summoned by the President last night, before she made her final decision.

The rest of her cabinet of 44 ministers met only this morning in order to be officially briefed by the President on her decision. Not even the Attorney General, K C Kamalasabyson was consulted before Kumaratunge decided to prorogue parliament.

Kumaratunge says she is determined to seek a mandate from the people to change the present constitution.
Published: Wed Jul 11 03:35:15 EDT 2001 Back to the top

Sri Lankan crisis has hint of dangerous deja vu
MSNBC, Wednesday, July 11 5:05 PM SGT . Sri Lanka's much-criticised constitution has two provisions with a particularly black history. One gives the president the power to call a referendum and the other allows her to suspend parliament. On Wednesday, President Chandrika Kumaratunga invoked both provisions, suspending parliament to thwart a no-confidence vote against her minority government and calling an August 21 plebiscite to change the country's electoral system. Until now, each provision had been used just once since the constitution came into force in 1978, each time as a means to cling to power with disastrous consequences. ''Here we go again. There's a feeling this country has been down this road before,'' said a Western diplomat. More...
Published: Wed Jul 11 06:05:23 EDT 2001 Back to the top

Sri Lanka Parliament Suspended; Opposition Cries Foul
ABC News, 07/11/2001 7:03 am ET . By Dayan Candappa COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (Reuters) - Sri Lanka's president on Wednesday suspended parliament to thwart a no-confidence vote against her minority government, prompting opposition accusations that she was moving the war-torn country toward dictatorship. More...
Published: Wed Jul 11 08:06:00 EDT 2001 Back to the top
Related News Stories
Sri Lankan president suspends parliament, orders referendum  - MSNBC

Proposed Referendum is a Bonapartist move- NLF
Saroj Pathirana in London, Wednesday 11/07/01 1110GMT. The New Left Front (NLF) requested all Left-Democratic forces to get together to fight for a proper solution to the national problem and urge them to resist to the conditions placed by the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and World Trade Organisation, describing President Chandrika Kumaratunge’s decision to prorogue the parliament as a Bonapartist move. A statement issued by NLF’s member of presidium Dr. Vickramabahu Karunarathne warns the working masses not to get carried away with President’s "Bonapartist tricks" to have a referendum on a new constitution.

"More than a dozen of MPs from PA under the leadership of S.B Dissanayaka and Ananda Munasinghe were planing to join the UNP to form a Sinhala National Government. Such a government would have been a civil facade for Sinhala Chauvinist dictatorship. She hopes to balance by an alliance with the Left - Peace forces and minority groups against the attempt to form Sinhala National Government" the statement said.
Published: Wed Jul 11 07:10:16 EDT 2001 Back to the top

Parliament suspension stuns Sri Lanka, Jul 11 2001 10:13 IST. Sri Lanka President Chandrika Kumaratunga's overnight suspension of parliament to head off an opposition bid ouster her coalition took many people and even the press by surprise Wednesday. Politicians and business leaders went into a huddle following Kumaratunga's move to prorogue parliament for two months and call a nation-wide referendum on August 21. More...
Published: Wed Jul 11 01:29:15 EDT 2001 Back to the top

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