UNP seeks general elections by December

[TamilNet, Monday, 27 August 2001, 01:07 GMT]
Sri Lanka’s main opposition United National Party (UNP) favours a caretaker government for a maximum of 12 weeks followed by general elections in December a means to end the ongoing political crisis, press reports said Sunday. “The UNP leader has indicated he will not go into a national government with the [ruling] People’s Alliance,” the independent Sunday Leader said.

Referring to the ongoing talks between the PA and the UNP to form a national government, the Sunday Leader said, the opposition leader Ranil Wickremesinge has proposed the reconvening of Sri Lanka’s Parliement, prorogued by President Chandrika Kumaratunga, the cancellation of a controversial referendum on the need for a new constitution, the introduction of five independent commissions under a caretaker government, followed by general elections as viable solution.

The UNP felt such a caretaker government should be limited to a maximum of 12 ministers, the paper said.

Alternatively, the UNP would agree to work with the PA for a limited period, with Mr. Wickremesinghe as Prime Minister, constituting a cabinet of 20 ministers, the paper said. Under this arrangement, President Kumaratunga – who presently hold the defence and finance portfolios – would not be eligible for any portfolios.

Sri Lanka’s present Prime Minister, Ratnisri Wickremenayake, is not part of the PA team negotiating with the UNP delegation, fuelling speculation his post is open to discussion.

The Sunday Leader said it is learnt that the UNP will push for immediate dissolution of the Parliament and the holding of fresh elections, if either of the two alternatives are not acceptable to the PA.

Talks between the PA and UNP delegations, suspended after several inconclusive hours on Saturday, are scheduled to resume Monday.


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