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 Post subject: Sri Lanka Cricket Confused
 Post Posted: Tue Mar 29, 2005 12:35 pm 
Suspended Sri Lanka officials defy government

Tue Mar 29, 2005 5:16 AM GMT

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka, March 29 (Reuters) - Sri Lanka's cricket administration crisis has escalated with suspended cricket officials challenging the sports minister's authority to launch a government takeover on grounds of financial mismanagement.

Suspended board president Thilanga Sumathipala ordered the closure of the organisation's Colombo headquarters on Monday morning and sent all employees home as he started a legal tussle with sports minister Jeevan Kumaratunga.

Chief Executive Duleep Mendis was instructed to stop all correspondence on behalf of Sri Lanka Cricket and extra security guards have been employed to prevent any of the government's six-man interim committee from entering the premises.

The suspended committee also issued a statement clarifying its position and arguing that attempts were being made to "illegally" take over the headquarters.

"We wish to draw everyone's attention to the fact that under the law neither the minister nor the secretary to the ministry nor any member of an interim committee is empowered to enter into or takeover any immovable property belonging to Sri Lanka Cricket," said the statement.

"Sri Lanka Cricket also wishes to keep all persons informed that the interim committee appointed by the minister is a separate and distinct entity from Sri Lanka Cricket and has no legal authority whatsoever to act in the name of or on behalf of Sri Lanka Cricket," it added.

Damien Fernando, a member of the six-man interim committee which is headed by Jayantha Dharmadasa, was denied access to the board headquarters -- an act that drew sharp criticism from the sports minister.

"People are acting as if cricket is their parent's property and are trying to cling onto power," Kumaratunga told The Island newspaper on Monday.

"The administration of cricket is in a sad state and that's why I decided to appoint an interim committee.

"Already a complaint has been lodged with the police and I will be taking appropriate legal action to stop this menace."


Kumaratunga announced last week that the government had evidence of financial misconduct within the administration and was taking over control to prevent a financial crisis.

The suspended executive committee reacted by claiming that Kumaratunga had been misled by parties with vested interests and criticised the minister for not providing them with a forum to answer the allegations.

The executive committee defiantly proceeded with its annual general meeting on Sunday and elected Sumathipala uncontested for a fifth term as board president.

Sumathipala-led committees were dissolved by the government in 1999 and 2001 and his fourth term also ended in controversy when he was taken into police custody after becoming embroiled in an immigration fraud case.

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