ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday November 18, 2007
Vol. 42 - No 25

JVP avoids meeting President ahead of Budget vote

By Chris Kamalendran

The JVP yesterday ruled out any meeting with President Mahinda Rajapaksa ahead of Monday’s crucial parliamentary vote on the budget, but did not completely shut the door on the possibility of extending its support if some of its main conditions were met.

“The President should demonstrate that he can take the country in the right direction. He can start it by abolishing the CFA (ceasefire agreement) or dissolving the APRC (All-Party Representative Committee). Our prime concerns are the sovereignty and the security of this country and taking the country along a proper economic path,” JVP Leader Somawansa Amarasinghe, flanked by party heavyweights General Secretary Tilvin Silva and Parliamentary Group Leader Wimal Weerawansa, told a media briefing.

On Friday Presidential Secretary Lalith Weeratunga wrote to the JVP inviting its leaders for talks with the President. The JVP leader said they would reply informing the President that there is nothing to negotiate.“We will not go for any meetings or enter any pacts or agreements. We have made our position clear. He (the President) must have the confidence to act now,” Amarasinghe said.

Both the Government and the UNP have expressed confidence that the vote will go their way but the JVP with 37 MPs holds the key in case some government members cross over to the opposition. The JVP leader said the party’s decision would be one that was favourable to the country and not to serve the interest of either the Government or the UNP.

Presidential advisor and parliamentarian Basil Rajapaksa told the Sunday Times the Government was confident that the JVP would not take a decision that would betray the country. “The JVP is a party which has always put the country before the party,” he said.

However, Mr. Rajapaksa said that even without the support of the JVP, the Government would be able to get the budget approved at tomorrow’s vote. “We are confident that every MP on the government side will vote for the budget tomorrow .We have the required 113 votes,” he said.

Chief Opposition Whip Joseph Michael Perera said some government members were expected to cross over to the opposition on Monday, leading to the Budget being defeated. “We have asked all our MPs to be present in parliament and we are confident that we can muster the votes to defeat the Budget,” he said.

The vote is scheduled for 5.30 p.m. at the end of the seven day debate on the second reading of the Appropriation Bill.

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