Kumaratunga moves to clip JVP's strong media links

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 16 March 2005, 13:19 GMT]
Sri Lanka's President Chandrika Kumaratunga is reported to have taken over the administration of the Media Ministry, held by Minister Mangala Samaraweera, in a move widely seen as intended to limit the strong links the radical Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) has with the State media institutions, especially the Sri Lanka Rupavahini Co-operation (SLRC), Independent Television Network (ITN) and the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC), political sources in Colombo said.

According to local media reports, President Kumaratunga has brought the administration of the Media Ministry and institutions under the purview of a top committee headed by her.

A letter to this effect has been sent to the Secretary to the Media Ministry, W.D.Ganegoda and Minister Mangala Samaraweera, who is reportedly out of the country for two weeks. Minister Samaraweera in the recent past has earned wrath of the President for working more in the "best interest" of the JVP and its leaders, than in the interest of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), informed sources said.

Accordingly, the newly appointed committee that includes Minister Samaraweera, Mr. Genegoda, Presidential Secretary, heads of all state media institutions and two others, would attend to the administration of the Media Ministry, appointments, promotions, transfers and take decisions regarding policy matters.

Although it was not immediately known as to who would be the two nominees, it is reliably learnt that one of them would be Dr. Tara de Mel, who is a close confidante of the President.

Kumaratunge's move comes at a time when the JVP is slowly but steadily gaining control over the State media institutions, including the SLRC, by putting their own sympathizers to do the party propaganda against the peace process as well as against their political enemies.

JVP recently blasted the leadership of the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) as "an Emperor without clothes," in an overt show of its confidence in gaining political ground against Ms Kumaratunge.

It was only two weeks ago that the President at a public rally at Nittambuwa threw an open challenge demanding the JVP to"quit the government if wanted without making mere rhetoric and empty threats".

The move has taken place when the JVP sympathizer in the SLFP, Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar was away in London, busy engaged in counter-propaganda campaign against the top-LTTE team led by political wing head, S.P. Thamilchelvan in Europe, diplomatic sources in Colombo said.

The JVP leaders used to meet Minister Kadirgamar time to time to clarify matters that keep the radical Marxist party away from the President, sources added.


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