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Asian Tribune is published by E-LANKA MEDIA(PVT)Ltd. Vol. 20 No. 110

Sri Lanka’s new president faces crisis over forming.........

[b]Sri Lanka’s new president faces crisis over forming a government[/b]

[b]By K. Ratnayake – World Socialist Web Site [/b]

The newly elected Sri Lankan president, Mahinda Rajapakse, confronts a political crisis within days of being sworn in last Saturday. Far from the conflicts and tensions wracking the Sri Lankan ruling class being resolved by his narrow victory in the November 17 election, they have immediately re-surfaced as he attempts to form a government.

Rajapakse’s United Peoples Freedom Alliance (UPFA) has just 71 members in the 225-seat parliament. It has yet to win the backing of any more MPs. The UPFA had clearly hoped that it would be able to form a government with the support of the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), which had campaigned for Rajapakse during the election. Only last Saturday, former cabinet minister Mangala Samaraweera, declared that “cabinet changes are on the card” and the JVP “has already agreed to accept cabinet portfolios in the Rajapakse government”. Wijitha Herath, a leading JVP member, however, told the Hindu on Monday that his party had not yet made a decision. Some reports now indicate that the JVP intends to sit in opposition, supporting Rajapakse from the “outside”.

The JVP’s hesitation to join the government underscores not only the new president’s problems, but also its own. The JVP left the previous UPFA government of former president Chandrika Kumaratunga in June, on the basis of opposition to Kumaratunga’s attempts to establish a joint post-tsunami operational management structure (P-TOMS) with the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). The JVP’s walk-out was an attempt to shore up its eroding base of support, under conditions where it had been widely discredited by its role in government. The UPFA had broken all the promises it had made to ordinary working people in the course of the 2004 parliamentary elections, attacking living standards and social facilities.

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