B. Muralidhar Reddy

COLOMBO: On the eve of the third and final reading of the 2008 budget in Parliament, the Mahinda Rajapaksa Government made it known that it would not hesitate to order polls if it is not passed.

The assertion by Media Minister Laxman Yapa Abeywardena came amid frenzied speculation on the fate of the budget proposals and deep concerns by the European Union on what it termed as “disturbing reports of abductions of a number of civilians” connected to MPs.

At a news conference here, he said despite the decision of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) to join the ranks of opposition, the government had majority.

Failure to get the Finance Bill approved does not automatically lead to collapse of the ruling combine. In another development, Foreign Secretary Palitha Kohana summoned the British High Commissioner Dominic Chilcott and expressed “deep displeasure” over his comments The British official said recently, “I am not saying that the political aspiration for Eelam is illegitimate.” It said the British official confirmed that the U.K. did not support in any way the establishment of a separate state in Sri Lanka. The British High Commissioner explained that he meant political aspirations could be expressed through legitimate methods, just as much as the aspiration for independence for Yorkshire.

Meanwhile, newly appointed head of UNICEF-Sri Lanka, Philippe Duamelle, paid a courtesy call on head of LTTE political wing B. Nadeson at the LTTE political headquarters in Kilinochchi.

Separately, the Army claimed that 29 LTTE cadres were killed and many injured along the Wanni and Jaffna Forward Defence Lines on Wednesday.