in crisis – JVP keeps out
By Harinda Vidanage
President Chandrika Kumaratunga yesterday swore-in a 31-member Cabinet
of Ministers from the People's Alliance whilst her major ally, the
Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna, boycotted the ceremonies.
what appears to be a growing acrimonious relationship between the
two major partners of the United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA),
just eight days after the April 2 parliamentary elections, the two
sides were locked in controversy over portfolios and subjects assigned
Kumaratunga, however, decided to ignore the JVP's boycott and went
ahead with her plans the same way she ignored the JVP in choosing
her new Prime Minister (Please see separate story).
television made out that the JVP representatives were not present
at the swearing-in because they were taking part in commemoration
ceremonies to mark the 33rd anniversary of the April 1971 abortive
at that rally, JVP leaders Somawansa Amarasinghe and Tilvin Silva
berated President Kumaratunga and warned her that all the promises
given to the people would have to be fully implemented by the new
government. (Please see separate story.)
four portfolios reserved for the JVP -- National Heritage and Culture;
Fisheries and Aquatic Resources; Rural Economy and Agriculture,
Lands and Irrigation remained vacant.
swearing-in ceremony came three days after it was scheduled to take
place. Unlike on previous occasions, there was no live television
coverage of the ceremony and the time was postponed thrice yesterday
from 10 am to 2.30 pm and eventually to shortly after 4 pm.
stalwarts who were angered by what they called were the JVP's "pressure
tactics" said they would not yield to "all the unreasonable
demands by the JVP".
Kumaratunga retained the Ministries of Defence, Constitutional Affairs
and Education while Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse is Minister
Kumaratunga sent the detailed list of ministerial subjects and functions
to the JVP hierarchy prior to the swearing in of Ministers of the
new UPFA government, but the JVP strongly opposed certain subjects
that were allocated to PA Ministers.
bone of contention was over the subject of Mahaveli Development
that had been taken away from the Agriculture, Lands and Irrigation
Ministry and given to SLFP General Secretary Maithripala Sirisena,
who was sworn-in as Minister of River Basin Development.
subject of Livestock Development had also been axed from this Ministry
reserved for the JVP. The JVP also complained that certain functions
of the new Ministry of National Heritage and Cultural Affairs assigned
to it had been stripped with particular reference to the National
Film Corporation that had not been assigned to this new Ministry.
JVP also complained that there was 'no logic' in some of the Ministries
created by the President. The first meeting to resolve the crisis
was held on Friday night at the President's House and ended inconclusively
while the second was held last morning at the Rosmead Place residence
of Anura Bandaranaike between the SLFP's Mangala Samaraweera, Susil
Premajayantha and Maithripala Sirisena and the JVP's Wimal Weerawansa,
Nandana Gunatilleka and K. Lal Kantha.
Sunday Times learns that the JVP leaders had questioned the SLFP
leaders on the appointment of almost all their elected MPs as either
ministers or deputies, while of the 41 JVP members elected, only
eight will hold ministerial posts or deputyships.
JVP was also unhappy over the sudden appointments made by President
Kumaratunga for the posts of chairmen to key state institutions
– the Ceylon Electricity Board, Board of Investment and the
Ceylon Petroleum Corporation. The JVP had wanted that they be consulted
before officials were appointed to top positions.