EPC Chief Minister facing the axe?

by Franklin R. Sayuapalan

The Chief Minister of the Eastern Province is likely to be replaced soon, according to informed sources.

The ruling UPFA members of the of the Eastern Provincial Council (EPC), including the Board of Ministers, had defied a government directive to participate in the council’s proceedings, when it re-commenced sessions at the EPC Secretariat in Trincomalee, yesterday morning, the sources said.

The deliberate snubbing came after all members of the UPFA administered EPC, who were summoned to Colombo last Saturday for a discussion with President Mahinda Rajapaksa, to resolve the issue over the boycotting of sessions, calling for the replacement of the CM, whom they claim was inefficient and the Governor whom they considered as an impediment to development, the sources said.

As a result of President Rajapaksa being held up in Killinochchi, he directed SLFP General Secretary, Minister Maithripala Sirisena and UPFA General Secretary Minister Susil Premajayantha to speak to the Provincial Council members, who were at Temple Trees to try and resolve the issue amicably.

The two Ministers gave a patient hearing for close on two hours to the grievances of the PC members and directed them to participate in the proceeding when the council recommenced its sessions yesterday morning, till such time President Rajapaksa could intervene, the sources said.

Political sources close to the government hinted at the possibility of the President replacing the incumbent Chief Minister with EPC Member Ameer Ali to tide over the crisis.

Ameer Ali, is from the All Ceylon Muslim Congress, a constituent party of the UPFA. He is a former Parliamentarian from the Batticaloa District, who held a Ministerial Portfolio and enjoys the popular support of all three communities in the Province, as well as the support of the majority of the ruling party members of the EPC, the sources said

As a result of the continuing boycott over the past month the Chief Minister of the EPC, Najeeb A. Majeed, had to sit in a provincial council where only Councilor Jayantha Wijesekers, elected from the National Freedom Front (NFF) and Chairman Mrs. Ariyawathi Galappathi, were present, the sources said.

All fifteen members of the opposition, in the EPC, comprising the four members representing the UNP, including the National Organizer of the UNP Daya Gamage, the eleven members representing the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), including the Opposition Leader of the EPC S. Thandauthapani, of the TNA, were present when the council resumed its sessions last morning, the sources said.

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