2nd lead:

Two Tamil ministers of Kumaratunga govt. submit resignations

[TamilNet, Thursday, 24 February 2005, 15:07 GMT]
A minister and a deputy minister of President Kumaratunga's coalition government submitted their resignations Thursday. The ministers, Mr. Muthu Sivalingam MP and Mr. M. S Sellasamy belong to the Ceylon Workers' Congress (CWC), a key coalition partner of President Kumaratunga's government which represents workers in Sri Lanka's large plantation sector.

Minister of Estate Housing, Infrastructure and Community Development, Muththu Sivalingham and his Deputy Minister S. Sellasamy of the Ceylon Workers‚ Congress (CWC) submitted their resignations to Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse on Thursday evening, in protest of the continued negligence attitude by the government leadership towards their grievances, party sources said.

The ministers said they were resigning over differences with the ruling party on a disputed hydro electric project in the Upper Kotmale area in the island's central province, unemployment among tea and rubber estate workers and discrimination in education.

According to sources, Prime Minister Rajapakse immediately took the resignation letters of the CWC minister to President Chandrika Kumaratunga and discussed at length the worsening crisis within the ruling Marxist-back coalition.

Explaining the reasons for this sudden decision, a top CWC official said that the CWC despite being a crucial member of the ruling coalition, the party was unable to discharge its duties to the people in the plantation sector and meet their daily grievances.

The government decision to go ahead with the Upper Kotmale hydro-electricity project and the increased atrocities by the police in the plantation sector, were among a number of other reasons for the resignation.

The CWC extended its eight-member support to the United People‚s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) government in September last year, a move that converted the then minority government to an absolute majority one in the 225-seat parliament.

The UPFA won the April 5 elections with 105 seats, among them 39 are from the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP). But it presently has got the single seat support of the Eelam People‚s Democratic Party (EPDP), three breakaway members of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC), eight members of the CWC and also the recent support of the UNP member, Rohitha Bogollagama, thus aggregating to 118 seats.

Although it is not immediately known whether the resignation of the CWC would be accepted by the President or not, the political observers say that it has created another crisis within the fragile coalition government.

 

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