Sri Lanka heading for snap polls by year’s end: state paper

Oct 1, 2006 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s president has asked his party to prepare for general elections before year’s end if the main opposition fails to back his minority government, a state-run newspaper said Sunday. President Mahinda Rajapakse has summoned members of his Sri Lanka Freedom Party and asked them to get ready for elections, the Sunday Observer said, quoting unnamed sources close to the president.

The newspaper said he told party workers that elections would likely “be held before the year is up” to help pave the way for consensus on peace talks with the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

“It is more importantly an imperative for any move towards advancing a constitutional package with a view to addressing the country’s conflict,” the newspaper said, citing the unnamed sources.

Rajapakse narrowly won the presidency last November and inherited a parliament where his party first secured power with the help of a Marxist group to form a minority government in April 2004.

Parliamentary elections are not due until 2010, but the president can use his executive power to dissolve the legislature and call a snap election after parliament sits for one year.

Rajapakse has been trying