Kadirgamar's move said linked to no confidence motion

[TamilNet, Friday, 11 May 2001, 19:34 GMT]
"The Sri Lankan government announced that it had reached an agreement with the Liberation Tigers not because of a genuine commitment to peace but to deftly pre-empt the support of minority parties for the opposition's impending no confidence motion against the government", a spokesperson for the ten party Tamil alliance told TamilNet in Colombo Friday evening. "The government is alarmed now that it might lose the support of at least a section of its main coalition partner, the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress over the Mawanella pogrom. This is has created a serious crisis for the People's Alliance. Why should the Sri Lankan government, which consistently rejected the LTTE's ceasefire and refused to even partially lift the embargo on the Vanni despite facing greater military defeats than Agni Khiela I last year, jump the gun at this juncture to falsely declare that it had reached an understanding with the Tigers to begin peace talks?" the Tamil politician in Colombo asked.

On Thursday, the Foreign Minister, Lakshman Kadirgamar, said there was agreement on several matters and that a foundation had been laid for peace talks.

Meanwhile, Mr. Alisahir Moulana, United National Party MP for Batticaloa, told TamilNet Friday, "The PA government rushed to announce that an agreement has been reached with the LTTE to trick the Tamil parties and the Tamil people and prevent them from supporting the no confidence motion for which the UNP will seek a date from the Speaker on Monday 14 May".

kadirgamar_lakshman_2-p.jpg"The government is now desperate. We are confident that the no confidence motion will succeed. The only way out for the PA now is to fool the Tamil people by lying to them that it has worked out an agreement with the Tigers", Mr.Moulana said.

"The Tamil political parties should not forget how the People's Alliance used them opportunistically in to confound the UNP and the JVP in the crisis over its election promise to abolish the executive Presidential system in July 1995", pointed out the spokesperson for the ten Tamil party alliance in Colombo.

The People's Alliance came to power in 1994 promising to abolish Sri Lanka's executive Presidential system before 15 July 1995. The Janata Vimukthi Peramuna and other leftist parties supported the PA on this pledge. However, with Ms.Chandrika Kumaratunga elected as President with a very comfortable margin, the PA was not keen to keep its promise.

Hence as the 15 July 1995 deadline for the abolition of the executive Presidency approached, the PA persuaded Tamil parties in Parliament to tell the UNP and JVP that they would support the move only if it was part of a process to completely overhaul the constitution including regional autonomy. The PA's legerdemain meant that the delay in working out an acceptable constitutional solution to the ethnic conflict would equally procrastinate the abolition of the executive Presidency.

Sri Lanka's opposition is now busy working on a strategy to defeat the government in Parliament, according to Mr. Alisahir Moulana.

The ruling PA has 116 members the Sri Lankan Parliament, which has 225 seats.

There are 89 UNP MPs including the speaker, 10 JVP MPs, 5 TULF, 3 TELO, 1 the All Ceylon Tamil Congress and 1 Sihala Urumaya. There are 108 MPs in the opposition (minus the speaker who casts his vote only when there is a tie)

The PA number includes 18 MPs of its Tamil and Muslim coalition parties, of whom 9 are SLMC, 5 are EPDP and 4 CWC.

The UNP says that if it woos four MPs from the government side, mostly from its minority partners, then there would be a tie, with 112 on each side. The speaker's vote in this situation would belong to the UNP, ensuring the defeat of the PA.

"In this situation the only way for the PA to counter the UNP's no confidence motion is to prevent the 9 votes of the Tamil parties from being cast against the government by starting talks with the LTTE. The Tamil parties will have to refrain from supporting the no confidence motion because their main demand that peace should be negotiated with the LTTE would have been met at least in principle", the spokesperson for the ten Tamil party Alliance told TamilNet.

"But bitter experiences have taught us that once it tidies over the no confidence motion crisis the PA will start equivocating on the Tamil question again", he said.


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