CBK in crucial
talks with potential rebels
By Harinda Vidanage
President Chandrika Kumaratunga is to personally talk to every PA
MP in an apparent bid to prevent the government from getting a two-thirds
majority for the 19th Amendment.
Her move came
amidst growing indication that upto 20 PA MPs might support the
constitutional amendment to clip the President's power to dissolve
parliament. The highly-charged amendment was gazetted on Wednesday
night and is to be presented in parliament on Tuesday with government
sources indicating it would be taken up in parliament early next
from government leaders, the former Leader of the House and senior
PA minister Richard Pathirana is coming out openly in favour of
the amendment. Mr. Pathirana told The Sunday Times he would defy
the party and vote for the amendment. He said he was confident that
at least 20 PA MPs would join him in giving a two-thirds majority
for the motion.
The Sunday Times
learns that during the last PA parliamentary group meeting, the
President had openly blamed some MPs who she suspects would vote
with the government. These include Richard Pathirana, A.H.M. Fowzie,
M.K.D.S. Gunawardena, Sarana Gunawardena and Jeyaraj Fernandopulle.
While Mr. Pathirana
is outspoken, Mr. Fowzie was more discreet and told The Sunday Times
he was still undecided though he felt the President also was undecided.
But SLFP sources said the party's central committee would meet tomorrow
to decide on action against Mr. Pathirana and Mr. Fowzie.
Besides PA support,
UNF leaders are also known to be canvassing votes from other parties,
like Ferial Ashraff's NUA, the EPDP and the PLOTE which together
have six seats.
But PA sources
alleged that the government was trying to force PA members to vote
for the bill using highly unethical methods such as pulling up court
cases or instigating police investigations into past affairs like
in the Rubber deal investigation on the former Prime Minister Ratnasiri
Wickramanayake and bringing allegations against PA MP Chandana Kathriarachchi.