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Mahinda sees threat from LTTE: report

The Lankan president is investigating into an assassination attempt by Tamil Tigers, reports PK Balachandran/b.

india Updated: Feb 11, 2007 16:13 IST

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa has ordered a high-level police inquiry into an alleged conspiracy by some ruling party politicians to cause 'physical harm' to him, The Sunday Times reports.
 
Addressing the All-Island Executive Committee of the ruling Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) in Colombo on Saturday, Rajapaksa had declared that there was a conspiracy to assassinate him with the help of the LTTE, the paper further said in its lead story this week. 
 
The police inquiry was instituted after a politician, recently sacked from the council of ministers, had said that the 'head of the government will be finished in three months', the paper said. 
 
The President's allegation of a conspiracy to finish him, follows the sacking of three top ministers, Anura Bandaranaike, Mangala Samaraweera and Sripathi Sooriyarachchi late last week.

Before he was  sacked, Bandaranaike had told Parliament and the press, that persons close to the President had threatened over the phone that he and Samaraweera would be abducted, thrashed and hanged.     
 
TheSunday Times as well as other papers reported that the Chairman of a state organisation, close to the sacked cabinet minister Mangala Samaraweera, would be arrested in connection with the alleged conspiracy against the President, and investigated for suspected links with the LTTE. 
 
The chairman, who is also a leading businessman, runs the newspaper Mawbima with which Samaraweera is connected. The paper had been attacking Rajapaksa and his brothers for the past year.
 
Prospect of defeating Rajapaksa in parliament 
 
Media reports say sacked ministers expect 11 SLFP MPs to come out and join hands with the opposition to defeat the Rajapaksa government in the 225-member parliament. 
 
The expected line up is: SLFP dissidents 11; United National Party 43; Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna 38; and Tamil National Alliance 22. 
 
In case of defeat on the floor of the house, Rajapaksa will continue as Executive President, having been directly elected by the people. But he will have lost parliament, which he needs for passing laws and the annual budget.
 
To counter any such destructive parliamentary alliance, Rajapaksa plans to get six defectors from the UNP by offering them ministerships.
 
The President has two more very effective instruments to quell dissidence: (1) a threat to withdraw security (2) a threat to dissolve parliament and order snap polls. MPs across the board dread both. 
 
The President has already withdrawn the high-level security enjoyed by Samaraweera and Bandaranaike, a move which is believed to have made at least Bandaranaike waver and send feelers for a return to the fold.