Sri Lanka: Marxist party left the government

A government plan to share tsunami relief aid with Sri Lanka's &to=http:// ' target=_blank>separatist rebels drove a Marxist party from the government Thursday, a move that could threaten the ruling party's hold on power.

The Marxists said they would leave the government by Wednesday at midnight if President Chandrika Kumaratunga did not back down on the plan to share the disaster aid with the Tamil Tiger insurgents, who have been waging a separatist war for two decades.

``We will leave the government and function as an independent political party in the opposition,'' Cultural Affairs Minister Vijitha Herath of the Marxist party told the Associated Press.

He said the party will relinquish its eight ministries and junior ministries in the government and give a formal notice to the coalition leaders later Thursday.

The Marxist move to withdraw its 39 lawmakers has reduced the government to a minority, controlling only 81 seats in a 225-member Parliament, forcing Kumaratunga to rely on other opposition parties to pass legislation.

Kumaratunga in a letter to the Marxists hours ahead of the midnight deadline reiterated she would inform the country about the deal ahead of signing it, indicating there was no intention to back down, informs the Guardian Unlimited.

Sri Lankan President &to=http:// ' target=_blank>Chandrika Kumaratunga is under siege for her plan to enter the relief co-ordination mechanism with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam rebels for equitable distribution of international assistance to Tamil regions.

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