Lanka PM tries to make peace

Sri Lanka's government has offered an olive branch to the president to end their power struggle, saying it is willing to give the latter a broader role in the peace process with Tamil Tiger rebels.

    Sri Lankan MPs during parliament session on Wednesday

    President Chandrika Kumaratunga accuses Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe of granting too many concessions to the rebels and moved earlier this month to curtail the prime minister's power, taking control of three top ministries and suspending parliament. 

    Spokesman GL Peiris said the government was willing to enter an agreement with Kumaratunga that would be a guide for how peace talks are handled.

    "Vituperative politics should be a part of history," he said.

    Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe's party has previously maintained that it will exclusively handle the peace process with Tamil Tiger rebels.

    Peiris said a committee appointed this week to look at ways in

    which the president and prime minister should work together would be providing suggestions to improve the cohabitation government.

    "Vituperative politics should be a part of history" 

    GL Peiris,
    government spokesman

    Sri Lanka has been in political deadlock since Kumaratunga on 4 November suspended parliament for two weeks.

    The political turmoil prompted the government to drop efforts to coax the rebels back into Norwegian-mediated peace talks, which have been suspended since April. The Norwegians also said they would stay on the sidelines until the political dispute was mended.

    Fresh conflict

    Meanwhile, in a move that deepened rifts between the government and Kumaratunga, Parliament Speaker Joseph Michael Perera ruled the legislature could disregard the president if she ordered another suspension of the government. 

    Parliament met on Wednesday for the first time since it was suspended.

    The state-run Daily News said the conflict between the speaker and the President "could even eclipse" the crisis caused by Kamaratunga's hostile relationship with the prime minister. 

    Kumaratunga's party has already threatened to bring a vote of no-trust against Perera, but the opposition does not enjoy a majority sufficient to oust him unless they are able to engineer defections. 

    Perera is from Wickremesinghe's United National Party, but the office of the speaker is officially neutral. His rulings are binding on the legislature and cannot be challenged in court. 

    There was no immediate reaction from the president to the challenge to her authority, but officials at her office said the president would study the ruling.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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