Constitution limits bargaining chip for UNP
[TamilNet, Thursday, 12 October 2000, 09:19 GMT]
The People's Alliance and the United National Party continued to negotiate Wednesday with the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress and the Eelam People's Democratic Party to muster the majority required in the Sri Lankan Parliament to form the government. However, it is unlikely that the UNP will be able to rope in enough MPs to forge a coalition because of the limitations it may face under the Sri Lankan constitution in granting important cabinet portfolios to potential allies. The decisive negotiations Wednesday are centred on cabinet portfolios.
The radical Marxist Janata Vimukthi Peramuna and the Tamil United Liberation Front reiterated their stand that they will not accept positions and be party to manoeuvres by the UNP or the PA to form a coalition government.
The UNP, however, said today that it is negotiating with several parties to forge a coalition.
The success of all negotiations to form the government will depend on one's ability to give cabinet positions and deputy ministries to parties that are willing to bargain for their share in a coalition rule.
But Sri Lankan President has powers to place limits on the ministries one can promise potential coalition partners.
Article 44.1 of the Sri Lankan constitution gives power to the President to
"a) determine the number of Ministers of the Cabinet of Ministers and the Ministries and the assignment of subjects and functions to such Ministers; and
b)appoint from among the Members of Parliament, Ministers to be in charge of the Ministries so determined."
The constitution says that the President can do this in consultation with the Prime Minister only where she considers such consultation necessary.
Also according to the constitution the President can assign to herself any subject or function; and for that purpose determine the number of ministries to be in her charge.
Under these circumstances the UNP may not be able promise the key cabinet portfolios sought by the parties it is attempting to coax into a coalition.