The JVP yesterday reiterated its call for the removal of WPC Chief Minister Reginald Cooray, accused of corruption charges. The JVP and a section of the UNP WPC group earlier made an abortive bid to remove Cooray who successfully resisted the bid with the support of an influential group of UNPers.
The deal is believed to have had the blessings of former President Chandrika Kumaratunga and UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe. Cooray on Wednesday declared that the Presidential Commission that investigated corruption charges against him had exonerated him. The Commission comprised retired Appeal Courts Judge Dr. Chandradasa Nanayakkara and Chairman of the Finance Commission A. S.Gunawardene.
The Commission probed a no-confidence motion moved by the UNP. Posters appeared in Colombo overnight urging President Mahinda Rajapakse to scrap the agreement between the Chief Minister, a Kumaratunga loyalist and the JVP.
The UNP group at the WPC is sharply divided over the political deal that saved the former minister, accused of corrupt practices and financial irregularities. Three UNP councillors have publicly rapped the deal.
Chief Opposition Whip Lakshman Abeygunawardene and Councillors Sirikamal de Silva and Douglas Fernando have dismissed claims that the 39-member UNP group was unanimous in its support to Cooray.
The JVP, believed to be with the blessing of SLFP heavyweight made an abortive bid to replace Cooray with senior WPC Councillor Nandana Mendis, younger brother of veteran UNP MP Wijeyapala Mendis.
Members of the ruling party camp, Communist Party member Mehesh Almeida and Renuka Perera, representing Mahajana Pakshaya, too, opposed the deal.
The UNP earlier levelled a spate of charges against the WPC administration. Cooray`s administration was accused of, among other charges, demanding a Rs 5 million bribe from a British company, demanding a bribe from a company based at Orugodawatte, issuing illegal bus route permits and ordering unauthorised appointments.
Political sources expressed the belief that Rajapakse would not be misled by the report that cleared Cooray. The sources speculated that Cooray would seek to enter Parliament through Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar`s national list vacancy. Kumaratunga recently expressed her desire to fill the vacancy while Rajapakse wants to appoint Dallas Alahapperuma.