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No dissolution; CBK to JVP
By Harinda Vidanage
President Chandrika Kumaratunga has ruled out an immediate dissolution of parliament but indicated early provincial elections ahead of any general election.
Her position has been conveyed to the JVP and her own MPs this week. President Kumaratunga during a meeting with the JVP leadership had indicated her preference to go for Provincial council elections after sealing an SLFP-JVP alliance and test the electorate at a provincial level before plunging in for a general election.

The JVP has, however, been pushing for the alliance with the aim of having a snap poll. At its subsequent politburo meeting, the JVP decided to give President Kumaratunga a "final chance" on the alliance. The JVP had earlier taken up the position that the alliance was to form a new government at national level and not for provincial power sharing.

As a result of differences, the signing of a JVP-SLFP pact has been further delayed. The absence of some of the senior SLFPers who are flying overseas on vacation has also contributed to the delay. Fresh discussions on the alliance are now expected only after mid January.

The JVP this week handed over a 10-paged document containing the proposed MoU, the work programme and the constitution of the proposed alliance. This has been done after the documents were redrafted after the SLFP central committee proposed certain changes to the original draft.

According to the current document, the JVP will get the position of chairmanship, two ministries and 38 seats in Parliament under a no-contest pact. The JVP has 16 seats in the present Parliament. As the SLFP was trying to seal the alliance with the JVP, it has run into problems with the other constituent parties. Despite PA spokesman Sarath Amunugama stating that all PA constituent parties have approved the alliance the LSSP and CP have requested more time to study the issue. LSSP general secretary Batty Weerakoon told The Sunday Times his party had sought clarification from President Kumaratunga on the policies of the proposed alliance.

He said President Kumaratunga had promised them a response in a day but it was yet to come. He added that a recent document issued by the SLFP and the
JVP showed a glaring contradiction regarding the devolution of power. Meanwhile at a meeting between President Kumaratunga and PA electoral organizers, provincial council members asked for early parliamentary elections while MPs asked for early provincial elections.

The provincial council case was presented by Western Province Chief Minister Reginald Cooray. The opinion among majority of the SLFP MPs specially the party stalwarts is that general elections will make conditions worse for the country as well as the party. The backing for a snap poll was mainly coming from few of the MPs supporting the JVP-SLFP alliance.

Meanwhile The Sunday Times learns that the Mano-Malik committee talks have yielded minimal results. As the talks between the two heads of the parties could not progress as they were stuck on issues of defence the committee held an emergency meeting Wednesday night.

The emergency meeting was after the Prime Minister rejected offers made by the President on the peace process and defence during talks on Wednesday. The first part of the President-Prime Minister talks revolved around how Mr. Wickremesinghe was going to handle the peace process.

However when the Prime Minister asked how the President was going to handle the peace process she did not have an answer. The proposals made by the President at the meeting was on two areas. In the area of Peace process President Kumaratunga requested a distinct role for her but asked the Premier to carry on with his work as the preponderant figure in the whole process.

Secondly in the area of defence, the President proposed a Ministry of National security and a portfolio of Minister Assisting Defence. In this issue President Kumaratunga retained the preponderant role but offered a significant share of power to Prime Minister Wickremesinghe.

But after the rejection of both offers, Mano Tittawella tried to convince Malik Samarawickrama that the new defence role offered to Prime Minister had functions which would make the job even more powerful than the one held by Lalith Athulathmudali and Ranjan Wijeratne.

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