President summons members for urgent meeting

Eastern PC impasse:

By Franklin R. Satyapalan

President Mahinda Rajapaksa has summoned members of the UPFA-administered Eastern Provincial Council (EPC) today for an urgent meeting in Colombo in a bid to resolve the continuing month-long boycott of sessions of this key provincial body, government sources said

All members, including the Board of Ministers are demanding the replacement of the Governor and the Chief Minister (CM) of the province who they assert are "inefficient and an impediment to development".

An official from the office of the Chief of the Presidential Staff Gamini Senarath had telephoned all 21 members of the EPC on Friday and asked to be present in Colombo for a meeting with the President at Temple Trees at 4 pm on Sunday, the sources said.Political sources hinted of the possibility of the President replacing the incumbent Chief Minister with EPC Provincial Member Ameer Ali to tide over the crisis.

Ameer Ali who is from the All Ceylon Muslim Congress (ACMC), a constituent party of the UPFA. A former parliamentarian from Batticaloa, he enjoys the support of all communities in the province.

The EPC comprises 22 members — seven from the SLMC, three each from the ACMC and the National Congress (NC), seven from the SLFP, one from the National Freedom Front (NFF) and former CM of the TMVP Sinamesathurai Chandrakanthan.

Of them, Chief Minister Najeeb A. Majeed and Chairman of the Council Mrs Ariyawathi Galappathi represents the SLFP, whilst Deputy Chairman M. S. Subair represents the ACMC.

The four-member Board of Ministers (BOM) of the EPC consists of SLFP member Wimalaweera Dissanayake the Provincial Minister of Education, Culture, Transport and Land, SLMC member Nazeer A. Ahamed, Minister of Agriculture, Livestock Development, Fisheries and Tourism, SLMC member M. I. M. Mansoor Minister of Health, Sports, Indigenous Medicine, Cooperative and IT Education and National Congress member M. S. Uduma Lebbe, Minister of Power, Rural Development, Road Development and Irrigation.

The four Ministers and members of the ruling administration have adopted a unanimous stand in their demand for the replacement of the CM who is unable to administer the council. They claim that bureaucrats have taken the upper hand and the CM does not inform the BOM or members to participate when Ministers from the Central government visit the Province to implement or inaugurate development or other activities.

They are also united in their demand for the replacement of the Governor of the EPC, Rear Admiral (Retd) Mohan Wijewickrema who is an "impediment to development as he had failed to provide social or welfare services to the people of the province and does not allocate any funds for such activities since the administration was established over six months ago".

There are fifteen elected members of the Opposition in the EPC, it comprises 11 members the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) and four from the UNP. The Leader of the Opposition in the EPC is TNA member S.Thandhauthapani.

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