Tamil party props up Sri Lanka government

Aug 6, 2007 (AFP) – A minority Tamil party announced Monday it was quitting Sri Lanka’s cabinet but said it would not withdraw crucial support to the coalition administration. The Ceylon Workers’ Congress (CWC) said two of its cabinet ministers pulled out last week following a heated exchange with a senior presidential adviser, but the party still supported the government.

“We are not going to topple the government,” CWC leader Muthu Sivalingam said, discounting reports that the adminstration was in a minority.

The coalition government of President Mahinda Rajapakse depends on eight legislators of the CWC for a majority in the 225-member parliament. The government officially holds 118 seats in the assembly.

Rajapakse last month ruled out a snap election amid speculation that there would be further defections from his leftist party. The defection of two MPs from his party in June was seen a psychological blow to the coalition government which is embroiled in a separatist war with minority ethnic Tamil rebels.