Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka Marxists issue ultimatum to withdraw from coalition

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Colombo (dpa) - A key Marxist party in the coalition government of Sri Lanka Friday issued an ultimatum to withdraw its support to the government if it fails to withdraw a proposed agreement with Tamil rebels on post-tsunami rehabilitation in the northern and eastern parts of the country before June 16.

"We want President Chandrika Kumaratunga to withhold the proposals before June 16, otherwise our party will be leaving the government'', said the leader of the Marxist JVP People's Liberation Front, Somawansa Amarasinghe.

The withdrawal of the support of the Marxist party with 39 members in the 106-strong ruling United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA) coalition could lead to the collapse of the government, prompting fresh elections.

Amarasinghe said his party was not willing to support any involvement of the rebels in the proposed mechanism for post-tsunami aid because it would give legitimacy to the rebels of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), which has not officially given up their demand for a separate state.

"A mechanism with the LTTE will endanger the sovereignty of the country as they are also yet to give up arms and violence'', Amarasinghe said.

The opposition against the proposed agreement has been boosted by protests from Buddhist monks.

The health condition of one Buddhist monk on a fast for the fifth consecutive day in central Sri Lanka further deteriorated on Friday. Doctors advised him to call off the fast.

The monk and his party, the JHU National Heritage party, are demanding that President Kumaratunga drop the idea of entering into an agreement with rebels on post tsunami rehabilitation.

"The monk is in a very serious condition as for the past 98 hours he has not taken any meals. We have just been able to give him a few drops of water for his survival'', said Dr. Sarath Ruberu, a physician looking after the health of the monk.

Another group of seven monks are carrying out a "fast unto death'' in the capital Colombo. dpa ad jh

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