PM issues ultimatum to President

By Prasad Gunewardene

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on Tuesday night issued the ultimatum of his government in writing to President Chandrika Kumaratunga to respond setting out the three conditions for the Executive to agree, informed sources said.

Sources said the Prime Minister also set out his alternative plans in the letter he intended to implement if the President responded in the negative.

These sources ruled out an early meeting between the two leaders on the crisis.

On Tuesday in Parliament, Prime Minister Wickremesinghe who had a one-to-one meeting with PA National List MP and former Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar explained to the latter the plans that the UNF government intended to take if there appeared no possibility of cohabitation between the Executive and the Prime Minister.

Sources said the outcome of the meeting between Mr. Kadirgamar and the Prime Minister was later conveyed to the President by Mr. Kadirgamar on Tuesday evening.

The Prime Minister in his letter to the President has requested her to agree to an amendment to the constitution to transfer powers to dissolve parliament to the parliament.

He has also urged the President to agree to the conscience voting bill to be moved in the House and also to an administration of committee system similar to the Donoughmore system.

He has in the letter said that if the President failed to respond positively, his government would move a confidence vote on the government and then move for dissolution of parliament.

Meanwhile, senior UNPers met on Tuesday night to discuss the proposed confidence vote on the government.

Senior Ministers Prof. G. L. Peiris, M. H. Mohamed, W. J. M. Lokubandara, Tyronne Fernando, John Amaratunge with Milinda Moragoda and Lakshman Kiriella will form a committee to prepare the vote of confidence on the government to be moved shortly.

Sources also said the motion would be prepared early and noted that it was likely to move it during the month of August if the President responded in the negative to the ultimatum of the Prime Minister.

Parliament is currently in session for 16 days.

Sources said that if the crisis deepened and dissolution of parliament was forced upon the government, the dissolution of the present parliament may take place by end September and a fresh parliamentary poll may be held in December.

So far the country has experienced two successive general elections in 2000 and 2001.