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Chandrika withholds emergency

Last updated on: November 07, 2003 23:16 IST

Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga has withheld the official gazette notification to impose emergency effectively cancelling her decision on Wednesday to go in for the drastic measure.

Also see: Peace process under threat: Wickremesinghe

Kumaratunga sacked three ministers and suspended parliament on Tuesday resulting in political turmoil. A day later she declared a state of emergency and a takeover of the state-run media.

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Government chief printer Neville Nanayakkara said the president has asked him not to the release the notification. "There is no state of emergency," Nanayakkara was quoted as saying by a news agency.

But Kumaratunga was preparing a new measure to boost the authority of the armed forces, a report said.

The emergency would have given broad power to the military -- which Kumaratunga controls -- to make arrests, interrogate suspects and search houses at will. It also would have banned public gatherings, given the president lawmaking powers and allowed media censorship.

It was not immediately clear why Kumaratunga has withheld the notification, but it coincided with the return of her rival, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to Colombo from a trip to the US on Friday.