Referendum cancellation reports dismissed

[TamilNet, Monday, 06 August 2001, 18:35 GMT]
Sri Lankan government sources Monday dismissed reports that the President might cancel the referendum on 21 August in the face of mounting opposition to it. "Postal voting will begin as scheduled in three days. The Commissioner of Elections has made most of the arrangement for holding the referendum", a government spokesman said.

Press reports Sunday speculated that the President might call off the referendum and go for a national government. The Sinhala nationalist group, Sihala Urumaya, was quoted as saying that it was brokering a deal between the People‚s Alliance and the United National Party on forming a government of national reconciliation.

Mr. Batty Weerakoon, the Minister of Justice who represents the Marxist Lanka Samasamaja Party, a government ally, said Monday that he and his party would walk out through the "back door"‚ if a national government were to be formed with the United National Party.

A spokesman for the People's Alliance said Monday that the Sihala Urumaya was "junior partner of the UNP" and that it was trying to "promote the interests of capitalists."

"The attempt by the Sihala Urumaya to broker a deal for a national government is an insidious ploy to bring the UNP to power and make the President a powerless puppet", PA spokesman said.

Opposition sources say that the government is confidently pushing ahead with the referendum despite widespread opposition because there would be widespread rigging.


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