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Thursday, 6 December, 2001, 16:05 GMT
Sri Lanka's potential political stand-off
Sri Lankan troops
The president might have problems mobilising troops
By BBC Sinhala editor Priyath Liyanage

With Ranil Wickramasinghe the new Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, the scene may be set for a political and constitutional stand-off between two leaders from rival parties.

Ranil Wickramasinghe
Ranil Wickramasinghe: Likely to be new PM
Under the present constitution, power would be shared as Chandrika Kumaratunga is still the president.

She won the last presidential elections in December 1999, which means she remains in office until 2005.

Officially, she also heads the cabinet so although the government is chosen by the prime minister, she chairs cabinet meetings.

This situation has been a cause for concern for many political analysts in the weeks leading up to the elections.

Battle of wills

In her campaign speeches, Mrs Kumaratunga said that whoever came to power, she would still run the country.

Sri Lankan president
President Kumaratunga: Says she will remain in charge
Ranil Wickramasinghe, for his part, campaigned saying that the president would have to obey the will of the majority.

The constitution demands that the president seeks advice from the prime minister on all matters.

The main stumbling block might come over money.

Fiscal fight

Parliament has the final say on budgetary matters.

So while the president remains supreme commander of the armed forces, she still needs budgetary approval from parliament if she wants to mobilise the army.

Given that the country is embroiled in a protracted civil war, this scenario is not impossible.

In the event of a stand-off between the two, the president can dissolve parliament - but only after a full year has elapsed since it was elected.

On the other hand, the parliament can impeach the president - but only with a majority of a two-thirds of the house.

The animosity between the two leaders was starkly apparent during the election campaign.

Unless they resolve these personal tensions, Sri Lanka may suffer the consequences.

Key stories:


See also:

05 Dec 01 | South Asia
Violence mars Sri Lanka poll
23 Nov 01 | South Asia
Sri Lanka's Marxist leader ends exile
22 Nov 01 | South Asia
Sri Lanka poll violence 'doubles'
09 Oct 00 | South Asia
Profile: Ranil Wickramasinghe
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