|We still have the numbers, says UNP
PA - JVP deal in the offing
The ruling Peoples Alliance and the JVP were ready to strike a deal yesterday giving the incumbent government an years probation to implement a series of tough demands in return for the JVP not joining the united opposition effort to topple the government through a no-confidence motion.
But the UNP said that even without the JVP which commands ten votes, and the Sihala Urumaya with a single MP, they have with support pledged from the government side, the numbers to push the motion through. The SU has not yet taken a decision on its stand.
"We hope very much that the JVP and the SU will be with us. But even if they are not, we have the numbers," UNP spokesman Karunasena Kodituwakku said.
"Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickramanayake wrote to us on Friday saying the government accepted all our demands in principle, but must get the decision ratified by the PA parliamentary group," JVP Propaganda Secretary Wimal Weerawansa said yesterday.
Weerawansa who leads his partys 10-member parliamentary group said this letter reached the party just before the midnight on August 31, the deadline they had set for a government response to their demands.
While the JVP seemed flexible about giving the government time to get the deal past its parliamentary group, it insisted that the government must demonstrate its good faith by taking what Party Secretary Tilvin Silva called "two immediate practical steps."
These are to reconvene parliament before the originally fixed date of September 7 and cancelling the referendum postponed from August 22 to October 18.
"We are drafting a letter to the premier asking that these steps be taken and giving time till midnight on Sept. 2 (Sunday) to do this," Silva said. "If this is done, a memorandum of understanding can be signed thereafter."
Kodituwakku of the UNP saw a lack of consistence in the governments stance in talks with the UNP and the JVP. "When they talked to us, they agreed only to three commissions. But with the JVP they are going along with five," he said.
Silva said there was no deadline for signing the MOU but expected that would be done soon after parliament is reconvened and the referendum is dropped if the PA goes along with the newest JVP demand.
Kodituwakku said that the agreement between the PA and the JVP suggested that both parties did not want to go for elections immediately. "Either intentionally or unintentionally, the JVP is helping the government to impose more burdens on the people," he said.
He also made the point that the five commissions were not JVP demands but those of the joint opposition.
Some UNP strategists favour waiting for the passage of the 17th Amendment to the Constitution, incorporating the democratization measures, before pressing on with the no-confidence motion.
They believe that this would take away the possibility of the incumbents abusing state resources to help themselves to get elected as was amply demonstrated last October when the present parliament was elected.
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