ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Sri Lanka : Political Stalemate

With the breakdown of the formal discussions between the United National Party (UNP) and the People’s Alliance (PA) earlier this week, the stage is set for a further period of violence and tension: parliament prorogued for two months since July is due to sit again on September 7; tensions among the numerous political formations are running high; old anxieties about security in the capital have been heightened since the LTTE’s spectacular attack on the airport; and the initiative for the formation of a ‘government of national unity’ before the elections, mooted by a desperate business community, has not found sufficient support. Even within the PA, Chandrika Kumaratunga’s Sri Lanka Freedom Party is facing discontent and dissension. It is possible that Kumaratunga may take the desperate step of coming to an arrangement with the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) which has 10 members in parliament. The JVP has already offered support to the government for a year, but with conditions: the government must abolish the executive presidency, reduce the size of the cabinet to 20, establish independent commissions to administer a number of government functions, including overseeing the press, the police and elections, and hold the next elections under a caretaker government. Kumaratunga has already said that she is prepared to agree to most of the JVP’s demands, except those on the size of the cabinet and the setting up of an independent commission for the media. However, this is not likely to satisfy the business community whose prime and immediate objective is an end to the ethnic conflict. The pro-Sinhala JVP has at no point accepted negotiations with the LTTE.

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