Government abandons constitution bill

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 08 August 2000, 09:04 GMT]
The Sri Lankan government abandoned Tuesday its effort to introduce a new constitution. Mr.Ratnasiri Wickremanayaka, Minister for Public Administration and Plantations, informed the party leaders' meeting in Parliament today that the new constitution bill will not be further debated nor put to vote. The decision is yet to be announced on the floor of the house by the speaker.

A Buddhist monk prepares black flags for demonstrations against the new constitution in a temple in Colombo, Monday.
The decision to abandon the bill was taken when it became clear to government that it cannot obtain the two third majority in the house required to pass the legislation sources said.

The government cannot afford the bill's defeat on the eve of elections and in the face of mounting opposition from Sinhalese, political analysts said. For the government, the defeat of the bill would be tantamount to a defeat at the general elections one of them pointed out.

Meanwhile a senior government minister told a rally by Sinhala nationalists opposing the constitution bill Tuesday that the government will give up the controversial legislation.

Members of the left-wing People's Liberation Front chant anti-government slogans outside the Supreme Court in Colombo, Monday.
Minister for Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksha today took part in the rally organised to protest against the bill by the Sinhala Urumaya, a Sinhala Buddhist nationalist party, in Colombo.

He also was present at another rally by the government in support of the bill today.

Minister for Provincial Councils and Local government Mr. Alavi Moulana's vehicle was stoned during this rally.

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