PA strongman removed amid cross over fears

[TamilNet, Monday, 08 October 2001, 08:15 GMT]
Mr. S. B. Dissanayake, a former cabinet minister and one time close confidante of the Sri Lanka's President Chandrika Kumaratunge was removed from his powerful post of General Secretary of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), which is the major constituent of the ruling Peoples' Alliance. The executive committee of the SLFP unanimously resolved Monday morning amid strong speculation that Mr. Dissanayake would cross over to the opposition with several ruling party parliamentarians when the no confidence motion of the United National Party against the government is taken up for debate on Thursday. Mr. Maithiripala Herath, the Mahaweli Development Minister has been appointed the acting general secretary of the SLFP with immediate effect.

dissanayake_s_1-p.gifMr. Dissanayaka was minister for Rural Development, Samurdhi and Parliamentary Affairs. He contested and won the powerful post of the general secretary of the SLFP by contesting Mr. Maithiripala Herath who has replaced him today. President Chandrika Kumaratunge chaired the special ex-co meeting of the SLFP.

The committee also decided to take disciplinary action against Mr. Dissanayake. Earlier the President accused Mr. Dissanayake of fraudulent activities that had taken place when he was Minister for Samurdhi (Poverty Alleviation). Mr. Dissanayake challenged the President to prove her allegations against him.

He was not included in the cabinet that was downsized from 44 to 20 under the PA's pact with the Marxist Janata Vimukthi Peramuna.

Mr. Dissnayake was first elected Member of Parliament from the Nuwara Eliya district in the 1994 general election.

He rapidly rose in the party and was considered a strong man in the PA government. The opposition and independent polls observers have charged that he and his supporters were involved in intimidation and large scale rigging.

Meanwhile, it was decided at the meeting of leaders of all political parties held Monday to take up the no-confidence motion of the United National Party for debate on October 11 Thursday on a suggestion made by the Prime Minister, parliamentary sources said. The Speaker Mr. Anura Bandaranaike chaired the meeting. Party leaders agreed to conduct the debate and voting on Thursday, sources added.

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