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29th June 1997


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You have my blessings son, you've chosen the right profession, serve your motherland, seems to be what the mother was telling her son at the recent passing out parade at Diyatalawa Pic. Sanjiva Niroshana


NDUNLF kept out of crucial PA meeting

Lalith Front not invited for election talks at Temple Trees

By Arshad M. Hadjirin

Amidst strong indications that the New Democratic United National (Lalith) Front will be dropped from the ruling People's Alliance, the NDUNLF is being kept out of a crucial meeting tomorrow where PA leaders are scheduled to discuss plans for next year's provincial council elections.

PA General Secretary D. M. Jayaratne told The Sunday Times that at an alliance meeting recently most of the coalition leaders took up the position that NDUNLF leader, Srimani Athulathmudali and her party members need not be invited for tomorrow evening's meeting at Temple Trees.

Mr. Jayaratne ruled out chances of a snap election despite intense speculation that parliament would be dissolved for a fresh poll.

He said that tomorrow's meeting attended by 31 leaders from all PA parties except for the NDUNLF would be addressed by President Chandrika Kumaratunga.

"We will discuss the coming Provincial Council elections and also asses our performance at the March 21 local elections. The agenda will be open for other matters as well," Mr. Jayaratne said.

Political sources said that was a clear move by the PA to oust the former Transport Minister Srimani Athulathmudali altogether from the alliance after her party kept out of the local elections. Earlier this month, she was stripped of her cabinet .

The NDUNLF itself is in crisis with two of its prominent MPs deputy ministers P. B. G. Kalugalle and Monty Gopallawa quitting the party and joining the SLFP.

Ravi Karunanayake, one of the three remaining NDUNLF MPs, told The Sunday Times yesterday that his party knew nothing about tomorrow's meeting which has been organised suddenly.

Ms. Athulathmudali obtained 148,727 votes at the 1994 parliamentary elections and came first on the PA list in the Colombo District, but some PA leaders believe she has lost her support since then.

It is learnt that Ms. Athulathmudali's meeting with Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike earlier this week failed to produce positive results for the NDUNLF. PA sources said Ms. Bandaranaike just listened to Ms. Athulathmudali's complaint that the agreement signed by the two of them provided for the NDUNLF to get one cabinet portfolio , but this had been violated.

With the new developments Ms. Athulathmudali met Opposition leader Ranil Wickremesinghe over the week before leaving along with other parents of an international school in Colombo for New York where students are to participate in a summer camp.

Labour switch pains Vasudeva

By Shelani de Silva.

Protesting against the removal of Mahinda Rajapakse from the Labour Ministry in the cabinet reshuffle, the radical LSSP MP Vasudeva Nanayakkara has resigned from his consultative post in the Ministry and handedover his official vehicle.

Mr. Nanayakkara in a letter to President Kumaratunga says the new Labour Minister John Seneviratne had asked him to reconsider his resignation but he was firm in his decision to quit. Mr. Rajapakse as an advocate of the worker's charter had run into problems with the President and the business community over labour issues in various companies.

CBK vs Sunday Times: verdict put off for Tuesday

The verdict in the criminal defamation case against The Sunday Times Editor scheduled to be delivered on Friday was refixed for Tuesday by High Court Judge Upali de Z. Gunewardena.

The verdict was initially due to be delivered on July 4 but was advanced to June 27. The CID served summons on the Editor informing him that the date of the judgment had been advanced.

But on Friday, the judge told a packed court house, the crowd including local and foreign journalists, that " I will give you an anti-climax surprise " and the verdict would be delivered on July 1, Tuesday.

The Editor is being charged under the Penal Code and the Press Council Law with criminally defaming President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga in a gossip column published in The Sunday Times of February 1995. The trial went on for 75 days.

A team of lawyers led by Tilak Marapana, PC, S. L. Gunasekera, G. G. Ponnambalam (Jnr), Hemantha Warnakulasuriya, Upul Jayasuriya, Lakshman Perera, Ronald Perera, Maithri Gunaratne instructed by Samararatne Associates appear on behalf of the Editor.

Happy Birthday

[Image]President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga celebrates her birthday today. The Sunday Times wishes her many happy returns of the day.

Who's coming for Premadasa Day

The Premadasa birthday commemoration meeting takes place today at the Sugathadasa Indoor Stadium, though UNP leaders and Premadasa family members will not be present.

Officials of the Premadasa centre which organised the 73rd birth anniversary commemoration ceremony said a large number of Buddhist monks and other leading personalities would attend with former Janasaviya chief Susil Siriwardene giving the keynote speech on 'Charting a course for a better tomorrow".

Sirisena Cooray, head of the Premadasa centre and chief organiser of the meeting is still in detention amidst allegations while UNP leader last Tuesday decided that his party would not attend the meeting. The Premadasa Centre has been accused of trying to split the party and challenge the UNP leadership while latest charges centre on a plot against President Kumaratunga.

Ministry trade war puts farmers in pickle

A virtual trade war is going on between two ministers with one accusing the other of violating cabinet decisions by importing excessive stocks of agricultural products and causing a big waste.

An angry Agriculture Minister D. M. Jayaratne told The Sunday Times that in one such instance of bad marketing and waste, the Trade Ministry had imported 14,000 tonnes of potatoes when the requirement was only 5,000 tonnes.

Mr. Jayaratne said the cabinet had agreed that the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Trade would co-ordinate work regarding agricultural products and grains so as to maintain a balance between the country's needs and local production. But in several cases including the recent crisis over potatoes and chillies, there had been little or no co-ordination with the Trade Ministry importing excessive stocks and causing all sorts of problems.

Mr. Jayaratne said he had taken new steps to increase and improve the quality of local agricultural products by setting up different departments to handle various areas. Thus there are separate departments for paddy and other grains, vegetables, fruits and flowers and spices and allied articles.

Mr. Jayaratne said Ministers from the North Central province were also strongly in favour of giving a better deal to the local farmer, instead of flooding the market with imported items.

According to the new plan of the Agriculture Ministry, each department will start cultivating selected crops in specified areas. The state at present owns 44 farms covering more than 15,000 acres of land throughout the country.

The Ministry has appointed 12,000 'Govi Niyamakas' and they will reach farmers at grassroots level and detail the new plan. They will then prepare monthly reports giving comprehensive details about requirements for every food item.

Mr.Jayaratne said if the actual requirements were known specifically, the trade ministry could import vegetables and grains accordingly.

In the meantime the government has agreed on fixed buying prices for twelve agricultural products, including rice, potatoes, chillies, onions, green grains. It has also agreed to prohibit CWE importing these items, if they are freely available locally.

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