Governing with PM horrendous says Sri Lanka’s President

[TamilNet, Sunday, 23 November 2003, 18:16 GMT]
President Chandrika Kumaratunga said Sri Lanka’s current crisis cannot be solved even if all parties are brought together because "the malaise runs deep in the country’s body politic," in a speech to businesspersons and academics telecast on state run TV Sunday night. Referring to cohabitation government with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, she said: "Governing like this is horrendous. The last two years had been the worst possible years of my life."

"I have been badmouthed all over the world by a group of UNP journalists who are today correspondents for international agencies," the President said, referring to adverse publicity her action had received in the international media.

The President claimed that a survey done after she sacked the ministers for defence, interior and media in Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s government showed that 82 percent of the people supported her action.

"The law and order situation is horrendous at the moment, as you all know." "In the last two years, at certain level once again by the state, violence has seeped from top to the bottom in our society," the Sri Lankan President said.

She insisted that she acted in her country’s interest. President Kumaratunga said her action has "at long last at least done one thing – it has balanced the power between the executive who is supposed to be all powerful, who decided to give all the powers to the cabinet (and the PM).

"At least it has balanced it off a little bit. A lot of executive functions are still with the other side," the President added.

She said constitutionally she had the power to sack the Prime Minister and the entire cabinet although she did not contemplate the prospect.

"Constitutionally I have to send only a one line letter to the Prime Minister saying you are removed from the office of Prime Minister – the entire cabinet goes out. President doesn’t even need to write to the rest of the cabinet. They thought I was going to do this. Some people got hysterical. They ran around collecting signatures. And then the Prime Minister wrote to me saying you do not need to remove me as Prime Minister. I just smiled. I could have replied that letter very sarcastically. I knew what I was going to do," President Kumaratunga said.

The Eye Channel of the state run TV Rupavahini Sunday aired the speech she had made last Thursday 20 November at a closed door meeting with leading businesspersons and academics in Colombo.

 

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