Daily Archives: October 1, 2006

Sri Lanka heading for snap polls by year’s end: state paper

COLOMBO (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s president has asked his party to prepare for general elections before year’s end if the main opposition fails to back his minority government, a state-run newspaper said.

President Mahinda Rajapakse has summoned members of his Sri Lanka Freedom Party and asked them to get ready for elections, the Sunday Observer said, quoting unnamed sources close to the president.

The newspaper said he told party workers that elections would likely "be held before the year is up" to help pave the way for consensus on peace talks with the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

"It is more importantly an imperative for any move towards advancing a constitutional package with a view to addressing the country’s conflict," the newspaper said, citing the unnamed sources.

Rajapakse narrowly won the presidency last November and inherited a parliament where his party first secured power with the help of a Marxist group to form a minority government in April 2004.

Parliamentary elections are not due until 2010, but the president can use his executive power to dissolve the legislature and call a snap election after parliament sits for one year.

Rajapakse has been trying to rope in the right-wing United National Party, the main opposition group, while also wooing Marxists to join his party.

The Marxist JVP, or People’s Liberation Front, has stayed outside of the cabinet and is opposed to Norwegian-backed peace efforts to solve a decades-old ethnic conflict with Tamil rebels that has left more than 60,000 dead since 1972.

via… Picture Politics

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Oh how soon those hugs have turned to blows!

By Rypvanwinkle

My Dear Somay,

I thought I must write to you because you seem to be in the news so much these days, even more so than your other illustrious ‘wansa’ sahodaraya, Weeray.

Of course, there would be many who would say that you are in the news for all the wrong reasons but as the not so young Anura will happily tell you, the only thing worse than being in the news is not being in the news at all!

Anyway, Comrade Somay, the question that baffles us all is what happened in just two weeks to upset Mahinda maama’s applecart. There you were, all smiles and embracing him and everyone thought we would soon have your sahodarayas in the cabinet looking after the usual subjects of ‘dheevara’ or ‘sanskruthika katayuthu’…

Then, while he was away in New York with half of his cabinet, half of his parliament and half of his household, you were berating him publicly saying that if he doesn’t toe the line, he too would have to go home. Tough talk indeed, from a party that could manage only a handful of votes in the recent local government elections, but it must have surely got the ever smiling Mahinda maama angry because we saw quite a few reactions from the Blue camp, with that chap Maithripala even calling you and your party a ‘bambuwa’! I dare say the comparison was valid too when you were claiming credit for the victories of the Armed Forces, the same forces which your party killed and maimed some seventeen years ago…

Then, there was Wimal sahodaraya who as usual could be relied on to add spice to any kind of situation. We didn’t quite fathom why he was asked to deliver a lecture at the National Literary Festival but then, we also never imagined he would bungle on something as simple as who wrote ‘The Old Man and the Sea’. Of course this was the same Wimal who took Ranil to task for not knowing the origins of the word ‘Pas Dun Rata’ and now Wimal himself has to eat his own words…

Then, Somay, we hear that splits and cross-overs which were never heard of in your camp are now about to become a reality. If the rumours that we hear are true, your onetime presidential candidate Nandana sahodaraya is ready and willing to parachute to the blue camp with maybe just a minor ministerial portfolio as a reward. Now, if that happens, Somay, your days of ridiculing Ranil for Greens deserting him will also be over!

But, Somay, just when we thought we had heard it all, now we hear that you are talking to the Greens. Now, we did think that Mahinda maama was talking to the Greens just to let you know that if you didn’t join him, he would get the Greens to join him, but this makes the situation even weirder. Just for the record, the Blues are talking to the Greens, The Greens are talking to the Reds and the Reds are talking to the Blues, and so we the ordinary folk of this country will surely be marooned in the not too distant future, when all these talks collapse in one big heap!

So, Somay, it looks as if even your luck is running out. All you need now is a general election to drive the nail into your party’s coffin and don’t be too surprised if Mahinda maama opts for just that!

Yours truly,
Punchi Putha.

PS- I once heard that Satellite, that much maligned soul, said that ‘politics’ was her ‘family business’. Now we know that politics is certainly not your family business because that is something else, isn’t it?

via.. The Sunday Times

If the stock market’s the barometer we’re headed for peace!

If the stock market is an accurate barometer, then Sri Lanka is at last headed in the right direction towards peace. The market reacted last week to comforting headlines that the UNP – SLFP talks were going nicely and, mirabile dictu, that parallel talks between the greens and the JVP too were to begin. These, it appeared, had been initiated by MP T. Maheswaran who, according to reports, had been given the go ahead by Ranil Wickremesinghe. There were even uncontradicted newspaper reports that Maheswaran, Bandula Gunawardene, Gamini Jaywickrema Perera and Vajira Abeywardene will represent the UNP at the proposed talks.

This development, according to a senior UNPer, “bewildered’’ party people. Telephones began ringing and there was a great deal of discussion among individual party members. It turned out that Wickremesinghe had told Maheswaran to wait three weeks to pursue to the idea, presumably to give time to the UNP – SLFP talks to come to a conclusion. But Maheswaran had plunged headlong into the deep end. Adding to the confusion were reports that Gunawardene and Gamini Jayawickrema Perera, the UNP’s Kurunegala strong man, were most unenthusiastic about the project and did not see any purpose in participating. That made it look as though the whole thing was doomed even before it got off the ground. Read the rest of this entry

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