Mendis fights to get back his post
By Santhush Fernando
Deposed Western Provincial Council (WPC) Chief Minister Nandana
Mendis has sought the green light from the SLFP leadership to challenge
Governor Alavi Moulana’s decision to replace him with former
Chief Minister Reginald Cooray.
Former Chief Minister Mendis had not received any reply to his letter
and was awaiting authorization from SLFP General Secretary Maithripala
Sirisena to question the validity of the re-appointment of beleaguered
Chief Minister Cooray, while Mr. Mendis was in office, The Sunday
aggrieved Mr. Mendis who held office for less than two weeks was
reportedly asked by an Additional Secretary of President Chandrika
Kumaratunga to step down on July 2 (Saturday), to pave the way for
Mr. Cooray to be sworn in the following day.
Mendis would seek redress by filing applications of Writs in the
Court of Appeal questioning the validity of appointment of another
Chief Minister by Governor Moulana while the Chief Minister’s
office was not vacant. After the swearing-in, the Council sessions
had been chaotic with both main parties- SLFP and UNP, being in
disarray and divided over Mr. Cooray’s appointment.
contacted WPC UNP Spokesperson Sujeewa Senasinghe told The Sunday
Times that the UNP came to an agreement with Mr. Cooray not to take
up the charges against him and in return adequate grants would be
made to UNP Councillors through the decentralized funds.
controversy in the WPC deepened with the JVP group leader Waruna
Rajapakse appealing to WPC President (equivalent to the Speaker
in Parliament) Jagath Angage, to appoint him as the Opposition Leader,
which matter was later referred to the Attorney General whose ruling
is due tomorrow.
JVP group leader, who had earlier threatened to vote against Chief
Minister Cooray in an UNP sponsored no-confidence motion, appealed
to the WPC President to appoint him as the lawful Opposition Leader,
as the present holder of that office from the UNP had expressed
his support and confidence for Mr. Cooray and had according to the
JVP’s view become a part of the government.
a hastily arranged Party Leaders’ meeting convened on July
1, Governor Moulana announced that Mr. Cooray will be sworn in as
the Chief Minister on July 3, following the request of the Opposition
Leader UNP Councillor Lakshman Kahatapitiya who pledged to submit
affidavits in support of him.
UNP submitted 27 affidavits, while 26 were submitted by the ruling
party - the SLFP. With the SLMC, Democratic Unity Alliance and Western
Province People’s Party (WPPP) following with 4, 1 and 1 respectively,
Mr. Cooray had the support of 61 members from a total of 104 members.
12 of the 39 SLFP members had not pledged their support charging
that some members had been lead to believe that Nandana Mendis had
arrived at an agreement with the JVP while others had been made
to believe that it had been on a request of President Kumaratunga.
10 UNPers had refrained from submitting affidavits charging that
Opposition Leader Kahatapitiya and several others prominent in lobbying
for Mr. Cooray had accepted monetary incitements from the ex-CM.
Mr. Mendis told The Sunday Times that the re-appointment was neither
informed to nor endorsed by the Party leadership and as such he
would be compelled to seek redress through courts.
Group Leader Waruna Rajapakse told The Sunday Times that the JVP
wished to remain silent on the issue but would not budge from the
original stance that Chief Minister Cooray had to go.