3rd lead (corrections)
UNF prepared to face snap elections - Peiris
[TamilNet, Monday, 10 November 2003, 09:37 GMT]
The UNF spokesman and Minister of Constitutional Affairs Mr. G.L.Peiris said Monday that the Prime Minister Mr. Wickremsinghe and his government are prepared to face a snap election, media sources said. It is logical to assume that we have to resolve the "threshold issue" before anything else, Mr. Peiris is reported to have told the media. The Prime Minister's office denied earlier reports on the talks being postponed. The decision is to be taken after the LTTE's views are received through the Norwegian Foreign Deputy Mr.Helgesen, who is scheduled to visit Sri Lanka today.
In the meantime, the Norwegian deputy foreign minister Mr. Vidar Helgessen and his special peace envoy Mr. Erik Solheim are due to arrive Monday evening in the midst of constitutional turmoil in Colombo following the dismissal of three key ministers, defense, interior and mass communications by the President last Tuesday and the Prime Minister announcement Sunday that 'he is not ready to play second fiddle', political sources said.
Mr. Vidar Helgessen and Mr. Erik Solheim are expected to play a vital role this time to bring a compromise between the President Ms Chandrika Kumaratunge and Prime Minister Mr. Ranil Wickremasinghe before making arrangement between the UNE government peace negotiators and LTTE leaders to prepare ground work to resume the stalled peace talks between them since April this year, political and diplomatic sources said.
The United National Front government peace negotiators, and the President's advisors are eagerly awaiting the arrival of Norwegian diplomats to reveal their stand in the context of current impasse following the Prime Minister refusal that he could not be a part of the peace process anymore till the President holding the defense ministry, political sources said.
Norwegian ambassador in Colombo Mr.Jan Brattskar held discussion with the Tamil National Alliance parliamentary group leader Mr.R.Sampanthan and discussed in detail about the political uncertainty that has arisen with the take over of three key ministries and the prorogation of parliament, TNA sources said.
Soon after the arrival Norwegian ambassador in Colombo will brief Mr. Vidar Helgessen and Mr. Erik Solheim the latest political developments that had taken place in the constitutional crisis between the executive and parliamentary legislature, sources said.
Mr. Vidar Helgessen and Mr.Solheim are expected first to discuss matters with UNF chief negotiator Minister Mr. G.L.Peiris along with Ministers Mr.Milinda Morogoda, Mr.Tilak Marapone and government peace secretariat officials on Tuesday. Later both are to meet the Prime Minister, sources said.
Delegations of the Tamil National Alliance and the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress are due to meet Mr.Helgessen and Mr. Solheim on Tuesday, sources said.
Mr.Helgessen accompanied by Mr. Solheim will fly to Killinochchi Wednesday to meet LTTE political wing head Mr.S.P.Thamilchelvan, sources said.
On return from Killinochchi Mr. Helgessen is expected to meet the President Ms Chandrika Kumaratunge, media sources said.
Although the President said she is not for a general election, diplomatic circles said the political stand off between the President and Prime Minister could end in dissolution of the two-year-old current parliament that could lead to a general election, the third in four years if the President is not prepared to hand over the three key ministries back to the UNF government, sources said.