Senior Minister admits differences with President
[TamilNet, Monday, 20 August 2001, 18:50 GMT]
The General Secretary of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party, Mr.S.B.Dissanayake Monday said "difference of opinion has arisen between him and President Chandrika Kumaratunge over fulfilling the aspirations of people". Mr.Dissanayake, the Minister of Samurdhi (Poverty Alleviation), Human Development and Parliamentary Affairs added "however these differences could be sorted out through negotiations." Ms.Chandrika Kumaratunge holds the post of President of Sri Lanka Freedom Party. The SLFP is the major constituent party of the ruling People's Alliance.
Speculation is rife in political circles that Minister Dissanayake is likely to leave the PA government with nine to twenty PA parliamentarians including two cabinet ministers and cross over to opposition when parliament meets on September 7.
Mr.Dissanayake's Monday statement has strengthened this speculation in political circles.
Government sources, however flatly denied that there were differences between Mr.S.B.Dissanayake and President Kumaratunge.
Special investigations have now been launched on a special directive by President Chandrika Kumaratunge into the alleged improper transactions and activities that taken place in the Mr.Dissanayake's ministry, Colombo press reports said.
Commenting on these investigations, Mr.Dissanayake said "I have not contravened any regulation in discharging his duties as minister."
Minister Dissanayake is of the view that the present political crisis could be tackled by the two major parties-Peoples' Alliance and United national Party- get together. Senior leaders of ruling PA Alliance allege that Minister Dissanayake has been in touch with Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremasinghe.
Minister Dissanayake addressing meeting at Matale last week said "the government is submerged in water up to its nose and the referendum or a revolutionary constitution would not rescue it."
Meanwhile President Chandrika Kumaratunge asked a group of Samurdhi (Poverty Alleviation) development officials not to panick over rumours spread by some ruling party parliamentarians and opposition leaders that government might collapse at any time. "Though the government lost its majority in parliament, people are with us. We will prove this in due course" President stressed.
Ministers Susil Premjayanth, Reggie Ranatunge and Jeevan Kumaratunge attended the meeting held at Presidential Secretariat Sunday night.
In a separate development, a senior cabinet minister in People's Alliance government Monday appealed to the Mahanayake of Malwatte Chapter Venerable Rambukwelle Vipassi Thera to use "his good offices to bring all political parties to a common understanding to safeguard the country from destruction".
Fisheries Minister Mahinda Rajapakse made this appeal when he met the Malwatte Mahanayaka Thera Monday at latter's official residence in Kandy.
Mahanayaka Vipassi Thera replied that "he took some actions in this regard but could not succeed in bringing the main parties to an agreement in the interests of the country".