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Friday, 9 August, 2002, 18:38 GMT 19:38 UK
Sri Lanka president defies PM
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe (L) and President Chandrika Kumaratunga
Sri Lanka's leaders have a tense relationship
Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga has brushed aside calls by the prime minister to relinquish some of her powers.

In a broadcast on state television and radio, she said ad-hoc amendments to the constitution could prove dangerous to democracy.


I have no intention of dissolving parliament at this point in time

President Kumaratunga
The remarks follow a warning by the government of Ranil Wickramasinghe that it could call an early election unless the president abandoned her right to dissolve parliament.

In her broadcast, President Kumaratunga said she had no plans at present to dissolve the assembly, saying such a move could worsen the state of political confusion in Sri Lanka.

"I will not hesitate for a moment to exercise the executive powers vested in me to prevent the dismemberment of this country," she said.

And she accused separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam guerrillas of using the current cease-fire to set up their own parallel administration.

"I have reliable reports that while the cease-fire agreement is in force, the (LTTE) is engaged in establishing its own law courts and legal systems, police stations, prisons, banks and various other institutions in the north and east."

Election threat

President Kumaratunga, who can remain in office until 2005, was elected separately from Mr Wickramasinghe, who won 5 December parliamentary elections last year.

She has wide executive powers that allow her to disband parliament after completing a year in office.

It is this which particularly rankles the executive.

"We have conveyed to the president that she should agree to take away her power to dissolve parliament," government spokesman GL Peiris said.

"If she does not, then we will consider the option of calling a snap election."

It would be the third election in as many years.


Peace efforts

Background

BBC SINHALA SERVICE

BBC TAMIL SERVICE

TALKING POINT
See also:

28 Jul 02 | South Asia
07 Aug 02 | Crossing Continents
02 Aug 02 | South Asia
16 Jul 02 | South Asia
08 Jul 02 | South Asia
03 Aug 02 | South Asia
09 Aug 02 | South Asia
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