CWC blows hot and cold

[TamilNet, Sunday, 18 July 2004, 12:46 GMT]
The Ceylon Workers Congress (CWC), a member of Sri Lanka’s opposition, blew hot and cold on joining the President Chandrika Kumaratunga’s minority government, according to reports in the Tamil press last week. Meanwhile, the Sunday Times said that the plantation workers’ party was still undecided on the switching sides, while the Sunday Leader said this week “joint opposition was buoyed by information the CWC for the foreseeable future will not join the government.”

The ruling United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA), with only 109 in the 225-seat Parliament is struggling to reach the 113 needed for a majority.

The Sudaroli reported that the CWC, which holds seven seats, was meeting this weekend to decide whether to join the UPFA or not.

But the paper also quoted the Janatha Vimukthi Perumana (JVP), the junior partner of the UPFA, as saying that it was opposed to the CWC joining on the basis of conditions being accepted.

A few weeks ago UPFA minister Mr. Mangala Samaraweera held talks with Mr. Thondaman but it proved futile, with President Chandrika Kumaratunga rejecting outlandish demands the CWC had reportedly made.

"We cannot be forced into submission like this, and it is better to sit in the opposition than be doing politics like this," President Kumaratunga had reportedly told UPFA members then.

The Thinakkural reported Thursday said that CWC will join the government after the Tamil calendar month of Aadi (the month of Aadi, which commenced on Friday July 16 and will end on August 16, is also considered bad for launching new ventures).

The paper quoting reliable presidential secretariat sources as saying Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse had a lengthy discussion with CWC leader Thondaman on Tuesday on the instructions of President Kumaratunga and this was the reason for CWC’s change of mind.

But the Sudaroli quoted CWC Deputy President, M. S. Sellasamy, as dismissing press reports that the CWC would join the government in a month's time.

The Sudaroli also quoted Mr. Sellasamy as having said that his party will not support a JVP move to remove the Parliamentary Speaker from his post.

The Sunday Times political column said the CWC’s support is crucial if the government was to get a working majority in parliament and “unless they got the CWC to break ranks with the Opposition, there [is] no hope [of this majority].”

Outlining the CWC’s dilemma, the paper said: “this week, the CWC hierarchy debated for over five hours. To jump, or not to jump. On the one hand, some of them argued that the CWC will find it difficult to sustain themselves without political power. Others argued, that the UPFA Government was not secure, and a wrong turn at this stage could be detrimental to the long-term interests of the party.”


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