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|Monday, July 16, 2001, updated at 23:37(GMT+8)|
Sri Lankan Opposition Moves to Impeach PresidentSri Lanka's opposition MPs decided on Monday to impeach President Chandrika Kumaratunga at an emergency meeting held in the parliament which was prorogued by the president last week.
The opposition MPs discussed the strategy to overcome the problem of parliamentary suspension and decided to impeach Kumaratunga.
A committee was appointed to begin collecting MP signatures for the proposed impeachment.
"We are very confident that we can collect the required number of signatures," Karu Jayasuriya, deputy leader of the main opposition United National Party (UNP) said.
The opposition MPs were allowed access to the tightly guarded parliament building after standoff between them and police.
Heavily-armed police blocked access roads and prevented MPs from going into the parliament building in early hours on Monday when MPs arrived there in a surprise move.
Parliament Speaker Anura Bandaranaike ordered the removal of obstacles along the road to prevent violent clashed between MPs and the police.
Bandaranaike ruled on Sunday that he was not able to reconvene parliament as requested by opposition parties because he was not empowered to do so.
The combined opposition parties which have a majority of 115 members in the 225-member parliament had requested in writing to debate on the prorogation of Parliament on July 18.
Kumaratunga suspended parliament for two months on Tuesday night in a surprise move and called for a referendum on a new constitution to forestall the adoption of the no-confidence motion in the parliament and prevent the imminent downfall of her ruling coalition.
Her government lost its majority when its key ally the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress pulled out on June 20 following the dismissal of its leader Rauf Hakeem by Kumaratunga.
Two days later the UNP submitted a no-confidence motion against the government, which has plunged the war-torn country into a political turmoil.
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