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 Post subject: JVP to leave the government on the 16th of June
 Post Posted: Fri Jun 10, 2005 3:56 pm 
Sri Lanka Marxists issue deadline to drop aid-sharing deal with Tigers

Copyright © 2005 Agence France Presse.

Sri Lanka's coalition plunged into deeper crisis as a key partner gave the president five days to back off from an aid-sharing deal with rebels or risk losing the government.

Image
Somawansa Amarasinghe, leader of the Sri Lankan Marxist People's Liberation Front, center, parliamentarians, Wimal Weerawansa, left, and Tilvin Silva, greet the media at a press conference in Colombo, Sri Lanka on Friday, June 10, 2005. Sri Lanka's plan to jointly dole out tsunami aid with Tamil Tiger rebels fell into serious doubt Friday when Somawansa's party said that it would quit the ruling government coalition unless the plan is scrapped by the end of next Wednesday. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)

Hundreds of Buddhist monks on Friday took to the streets in the capital Colombo hours after the Marxist JVP announced plans to quit the government on June 16 unless President Chandrika Kumaratunga rolls back her controversial plan.

The demonstrations by two separate groups of monks -- one backing the JVP, or the People's Liberation Front and the other from the all-monk National Heritage Party -- added to a sit down protest by monks already under way in the capital against the aid deal.

Officials said Kumaratunga was due to hold talks with the Buddhist hierarchy Friday in a bid to stem the wave of protests.

The JVP told reporters here that it would block any attempt by the president to enter into a "joint mechanism" to distribute foreign aid to survivors of the December 26 tsunami disaster.

"We will leave the government on the 16th of June if the president does not withdraw the joint mechanism plan with Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) by the end of the 15th," JVP leader Somawansa Amarasinghe said.

Kumaratunga has pledged to implement the deal despite threats to her life and has promised international aid donors last month that she would press ahead with the move.

Any pullout by the JVP could lead to the collapse of her administration which depends on the 39 seats of the Marxists in the 225-member assembly.

The JVP said the proposed move would grant recognition to the Tigers and dilute the authority of the state.

"This is a violation of the sovereignty of the country. We will not allow it," Amarasinghe told reporters.

Kumaratunga's critics say the plan to jointly distribute international tsunami relief aid with the Tamil Tigers will help legitimise the rebels' separatist campaign.

Amarasinghe argued no joint mechanism was needed to help tsunami survivors and said the affected coastal residents had been helped for nearly six months through the existing administrative structures.

"The government is now even trying to change the name of the joint mechanism to make it sound like a humanitarian thing... sorry, we will not allow it," Amarasinghe said.

"The president has no right to share sovereignty with anyone, particularly a terrorist organisation like the LTTE which is not responsible to anyone except to their guns," Amarasinghe said.

He said his party would make sure its decision to quit the government would not be to the advantage of the main opposition United National Party (UNP), which has been backing Kumaratunga's peace overtures to the Tigers.

JVP party spokesman Wimal Weerawansa told parliament Wednesday that the decision to enter into a deal with the Tigers had been taken by Kumaratunga without consulting coalition partners.

The JVP has said it would stage a public rally in Colombo on Tuesday next week.

International donors have called for a joint mechanism to distribute billions of dollars in aid equitably in rebel-held and government areas.

Some 31,000 people were killed in the December 26 tsunamis and a million people were initially left homeless. Much of the destruction was in the northeast, parts of which are dominated by the guerrillas.

Copyright © 2005 Agence France Presse.


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