The rift within the Tamil National Alliance over ministerial appointments in the government for Sri Lanka's northern province has widened with nine elected representatives refusing to be sworn in by the new Chief Minister.
Nine of the 30 TNA leaders elected in last month's polls refused to be sworn in by Chief Minister C V Wigneswaran yesterday due to a dispute over appointments and his decision to take oath before President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
Two parties of the five-party alliance, Tamil Eelam Liberation Organisation (TELO) and Eelam People's Liberation Front (EPRLF), held a press conference in Jaffna today to explain the refusal by nine elected members to take oath.
"They are (TNA hierarchy) violating the collective decision-making process," TELO leader M K Shivajilingam said.
Suresh Premachandran, an EPRLF leader, said the TNA acted jointly in picking election candidates but a similar process was not followed in selecting ministers.
The four-member cabinet of the northern provincial council was announced on Thursday.
Talking about the dispute, Wigneswaran said Premachandran, an EPRLF senior leader, was unhappy because his brother had failed to win a ministerial position.
"There is nothing I can do, we could have only four ministers in the council," Wigneswaran said.
"The nine members who did not take oaths will take oaths in Mullaithivu on Monday," Premachandran said.
Mullaithivu was the scene of the last battle between the Sri Lankan Army and the LTTE in May 2009. The recent polls in the northern province were the first in 25 years and were held after the end of the nearly three decades-long conflict.
"Mullaithivu was an area where Tamil people suffered most," Shivajilingam, who was often accused of being an LTTE supporter, said.
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