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Last Updated: Wednesday, 5 November, 2003, 12:10 GMT
`Shock and awe' in Sri Lanka
Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga's decision to sack three ministers, suspend parliament and send out the troops was not entirely unexpected, according to newspapers in Sri Lanka.

Daily News
The Daily News says the government wants elections
The Island newspaper says the showdown was "inevitable" given the rocky relationship between the "ebullient" President Kumaratunga and Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe.

"We [had] noted [in the past] that the co-existence of President Kumaratunga would be like the peaceful co-existence of fire and dynamite," the newspaper commented in an editorial.

The Island, however, admitted that the sweep of President Kumaratunga's decisions came as a "shock".

'Disregard the President'

"Shock and awe is perhaps the best description for the pre-Guy Fawkes Day sacking of ministers... More fireworks are likely to follow [in] the days ahead," said the newspaper - prophetic words given Wednesday's declaration of a state of emergency.

However, the Daily News says the cabinet ministers have decided to "disregard" the president's decision to "to remove the portfolios of three ministers."

Quoting an unnamed minister, Daily News says the government and the ruling United National Front (UNF) "has thrown an open challenge to the president to dissolve parliament and go in for parliamentary poll at which the results would be obvious".

But The Island said dissolution of parliament is "inevitable" and parliamentary elections are "likely to follow".

"The country has suffered very much because of the confrontationist policies between the two leaders... the only solution is go to the polls-holding parliamentary elections, a presidential election or preferably both."

The newspaper regretted that the crisis had come at a time where there were "great expectations" among many people about lasting peace with the Tamil Tiger rebels.

The crisis also happened when the economy was picking up, the newspaper said.

"It is indeed a pity... from a negative growth in the last election year a growth of around 4-5% has been recorded and the stock market is booming."

Concern in India

In neighbouring India, the Indian Express newspaper said "the grande dame of Sri Lankan politics struck swiftly and brought her country to a standstill".

The newspaper said India was concerned about the developments and was in touch with both the president and the prime minister.

"We hope the situation doesn't provoke a constitutional crisis which would impact on political stability in Sri Lanka," the newspaper quoted an Indian external affairs ministry spokesperson.

The Indian Express said it was "more than likely" now that President Kumaratunga's planned week-long visit to Delhi starting 7 November will now be called off.

The newspaper said Delhi's "bottom-line interest" would be to see whether President Kumaratunga implemented the initiatives "ambitiously promised" during Mr Wickramasinghe's visit to India a fortnight ago.

They include defence cooperation, an open sky agreement and joint action on terrorism.

The Indian Express said India was not likely to agree with the "extreme views" by some Western nations that the Norwegian-sponsored peace talks had been "sabotaged" by the crisis.

"Opinion was divided whether an early result of the current crisis was a snap poll."

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