Sri Lankan President calls elections

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Mon Feb 9 16:33:48 UTC 2004

>>From the NYTimes,  February 9, 2004

Sri Lankan Leader Calls Elections

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka, Feb. 8 (Reuters)  Sri Lanka's president has called
early parliamentary elections to try to unseat her bitter rival, the prime
minister. President Chandrika Kumaratunga dissolved Parliament on Sunday
and set a vote for April 2 three years early and the third general
election in four years. She takes a harder line against the Tamil Tiger
rebels than does Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

A cease-fire with the rebels has lasted two years in a two-decade war that
has killed 64,000 people is expected to hold. But the elections are
considered likely to delay further the stalled peace talks with the
rebels. Ms. Kumaratunga called the election to try to break an angry
stalemate with Mr. Wickremesinghe over how to handle the peace efforts
with the rebels, of the Tamil ethnic minority, who walked out of talks 10
months ago.

Many business leaders had opposed the widely expected early election,
saying the president's alliance was less market-friendly. Foreign donors
feared that the vote could delay peace efforts. Analysts and newspapers
predicted a close vote but said the president's alliance had momentum
going into the race.

Ms. Kumaratunga, who is considered left-leaning and who survived a rebel
suicide attack, opposes Mr. Wickremesinghe's privatization policies.

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