Friday, 13 February 2004  
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President rejects Premier's claim

The Presidential Secretariat yesterday outrightly dismissed and rejected an allegation and a claim by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe that the dismissal of three non-Cabinet ministers affected the relief distribution work and matters pertaining to the peace process.

A Presidential communique issued by Director General (Media) Presidential Secretariat, Janadasa Peiris stated that the Prime Minister yesterday had written to President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga alleging that her action that dismissed three non-Cabinet ministers involved in affairs in the North-East affected relief distribution and the peace process.

The Premier had mentioned that the dismissal of Rehabilitation and Resettlement Minister, Vanni Affairs Assisting Minister and Hindu Religious Affairs Minister were the three ministers involved in the affairs of North and East.

The President's Office had pointed out that the peace process was never affected by the dismissal of these three ministers but it had happened in April 2003 when the LTTE left the negotiating table.

Even the acquisition of three ministries in November 2003 did not affect the ceasefire agreement and the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) had confirmed that the ceasefire progressed affectively.

The Head of the SLMM who met the President on Wednesday had accepted this position. LTTE's political chief S. P. Thamilselvam had recently stated that they would adhere to the ceasefire despite the dissolution of Parliament and the take over of three Ministries.

"Therefore the allegation that the removal of three non-cabinet ministers involved in rehabilitation work affect the ceasefire or the peace process cannot be accepted", the communique stressed.

While rejecting the stand taken by the Prime Minister, the Presidential Secretariat claimed that it was the LTTE which openly stated that the government did nothing for the development of the North-East during the two year ceasefire period.

"Even a government Minister who recently visited the North had confirmed the statement of the LTTE in open", the communique pointed out.

Allegations have already been levelled that even before receipt of a foreign aid of Rs. 4.5 billion, the government had failed to utilise funds allocated for the North-East.

"Therefore, the Presidential Secretariat outrightly rejects and dismisses the Prime Minister's allegation that the sacking of three non-Cabinet Ministers affected the relief work and the peace process in the North- East", the communique astated.

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