2ND LEAD

JHU appoints militant leader as parliamentarian

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 31 January 2007, 06:29 GMT]
Sinhala Ultra Nationalist All Monks party, the Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU), which is opposed to power-sharing and Norwegian facilitation, Wednesday replaced their National List parliamentarian monk Ven. Omalpe Sobhita Thero with a prominent militant leader of the National Movement Against Terrorism (NMAT), Patali Champika Ranawaka, paving way for him to assume a cabinet post this week, when the party with 9 parliamentary seats, is expected to join Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse's UPFA alliance.

Champika Ranawaka
Ranawaka, a former militant JVPer from 1980's, who agitated against the Indo-Lanka accord, had split from the JVP contradicting with the militant Marxist founder of the JVP, Rohana Wijeweera.

He later became a key founder of National Movement Against Terrorism (NMAT) in 1998 and Sinhala Urumaya (SU) in 2000, and was known for anti-semitic statements, comparing Tamils with Jews with a "Aryan Sinhala" supremacist philosophy.

In 2004, he was "removed" from the General Secretary post, following a controversy between the laymen and monks in the party.

JHU Parliamentarian Monk, Ven. Omalpe Sobitha Thera
JHU Parliamentarian Monk, Ven. Omalpe Sobitha Thera
However, the ultra nationalist agenda, opposed to the Post Tsunami Joint Mechanism between the Government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), the P-TOMS, the Cease Fire Agreement (CFA) between the GoSL and the LTTE, and the merged NorthEast, kept him active in the party.

Omalpe Sobitha Thero, who carried out a fast-unto-death campaign in 2005 for 17-days against the P-TOMS, has stepped out from his Parliamentarian post to pave the way for the articulate Sinhala nationalist policy advisor Ranawaka.

Priyani Wijesekara, Secretary General of the parliament said Wednesday she had received the resignation letter of Venerable Omalpe Sobitha Thera resigning from the national list MP post. She had forwarded the letter to the Commissioner General of Elections for necessary action.

The parliamentary group and the central committee of JHU met Tuesday night and decided to accept the invitation of Mr. Mahinda Rajapakse to join the UPFA government.

With the joining of JHU, the UPFA government's parliamentary strength will be increased to 122 from 113.

The parliamentary strength of the combined opposition parties will be decreased to 103 with JHU joining the UPFA-government.

Sri Lankan Parliament has 225 Members. 196 MPs are elected from 22 Electoral Districts. 29 seats are provided to parties on a National List.

With the swearing-in of Champika Ranawake, the number of cabinet rank ministers in the UPFA government will swell to 53.

Sri Lanka has long been criticized for having "Mega cabinets" since the late 1980s.

Virtually every member of the Sri Lankan President's political alliance, is either a Minister, a Non Cabinet Minister or Deputy Minister.


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