Package votes secure in Colombo hotels
[TamilNet, Friday, 04 August 2000, 12:53 GMT]
Sri Lanka's opposition charged Friday that the ruling People's Alliance (PA) is making "horse deals" to bribe members of Parliament to vote for the new constitution bill on 9 August. Opposition sources claimed that forty Parliamentarians, including cabinet ministers and some United National party MPs have been put up by the government at the Taj Samudra Hotel and the Oberoi Hotel in downtown Colombo until the date of voting. The government needs 150 votes in the Parliament to pass the constitution bill. There are 225 seats in the Sri Lankan Parliament.
A government politician denied the opposition's charge, saying that some PA Parliamentarians have put up at the two hotels and at the Visumpaya, the state guest house, purely for security reasons.
The PA has 112 votes (two MPs were sworn in earlier this week for the vacancy arising from the death of Tourism Minister Dharmasiri Senanayake and the seat that was kept vacant for long after the death of Y.P Silva MP). Of these, Ravi Karunanayaka MP has joined the opposition. Srimani Athulathmudali, MP, a coalition partner of the government said yesterday that she will not support the bill. So the total PA vote for the bill is 110.
The Ceylon Workers Congress (CWC) which has 8 MPs (this was formerly nine. One seat went to the UNP following party leader S.Thondaman's death last year) and the Eelam People's Democratic Party which has 6 MPs have pledged to support the bill.
There are seven UNP MPs who have joined the government. The total is 131.
The government therefore requires 19 more votes to pass the bill.
A government source said that twelve UNP MPs are expected to support the bill when it comes up for voting on 9 August.
The Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) has five votes and the People's Liberation Organisation of Tamil Eelam has two. Both parties say that they will not support the bill unless three fundamental aspects of it are changed.
The Sri Lankan President is expected to meet the TULF and the PLOTE on Monday in an eleventh hour bid to coax them to vote for the bill.