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Sri Lankan PM meets Bush amid political crisis

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Published on 26 Jun 2020 / In News & Politics

Washington DC 5 November, 2003
1. Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe leaving Ritz Carlton hotel en route to White House
2. Cutaway cameraman filming
3. Vars of motorcade arriving at White House,
4. Wickremesinghe gets out of car, walks inside
5. Cutaway of press outside the White House
6. Wickremesinghe walks out of White House, to stakeout
7. Wide side shot of Wickremesinghe at stakeout
8. SOUNDBITE: (English) Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe
"Yes, the President wanted to know what was happening in Sri Lanka, I said things were quite alright when I left. But since then, it had changed, but it's been a part of Sri Lankan politics for 25 years, we have these ups and downs. I told him I have a majority of Parliament with me."
9. Wide shot of Wickremesinghe at press stakeout
10. Cutaway of photographers
11. SOUNDBITE: (English) Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe
"This is not the first crisis I have had. When I go back, I will sort it out. We have the majority in Parliament, and we will get the peace process on track. I am talking with the co-chairman of the donor countries."
(Reporter question: Have you been in touch with the LTT?)
12. SOUNDBITE (English) Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe:
"I have not been in touch with the LTT. The Norwegians are meeting, are in touch with the LTT. I have no reaction to the Norwegians. I have a mandate to bring peace to the country and develop the country. Thank you."
10. Wickremesinghe walks away


STORYLINE:

As Sri Lanka's political crisis deepened Wednesday, President Chandrika Kumaratunga declared a state of emergency, giving the military sweeping powers.

Kumarantunga's rival, prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was in Washington to meet with US President George W. Bush.

Aides insisted President Chandrika Kumaratunga wouldn't restart the civil war that has divided the island nation for two decades now, and which is at the root of her feud with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

They also said she would honour a shaky cease-fire with Tamil Tiger rebels, but the president's moves appeared to jeopardise the peace talks.

The crisis flared up on Tuesday while the prime minister was in the United States.

President Kumaratunga fired three key ministers who've been instrumental in the government's peace efforts.

She also suspended Parliament for two weeks and deployed troops around the capital Colombo.

Kumaratunga said the steps were need to check a deteriorating security situation.

After meeting with Bush, Wickremesinghe said he had told the president that "things had changed" since he had left for the United States.

But he added, "these ups and downs" are "part of Sri Lankan politics," and pledged he would sort the situation out when he returns to Colombo.

Wickremesinghe said he told President Bush he had the support of a majority of Parliament, and that he would get the peace process back on track.

White House press secretary Scott McClellan said the US "strongly supports the peace process and strong democratic institutions in Sri Lanka."

Meanwhile, in Colombo, Wickremesinghe's supporters quickly struck back.

More than half of the country's parliamentarians on Wednesday pledged support for him and rejected the firings.

The strong support for the prime minister could make it politically difficult for Kumaratunga to dismiss Wickremesinghe.


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