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Government and judiciary in clash

Sri Lanka's chief justice minister appeared for the first time before a parliamentary select committee considering an impeachment motion against her.

The bid to impeach Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake, Sri Lanka's first female head of the Supreme Court, has raised the risk of a destabilising clash between President Mahinda Rajapaksa's government and the judiciary.

The impeachment motion, filed on November 6, contains 14 charges ranging from undeclared assets to violating constitutional provisions.

The US, United Nations and the Commonwealth have called on the government to ensure the independence of the judiciary.

The 11-member select committee considering the charges includes seven ruling-party legislators. Ms Bandaranayake did not comment after the sitting in parliament. Members of the media were not allowed to attend.

A source with knowledge of the proceedings said the session set out procedures and was adjourned to December 4.

Ms Bandaranayake recently came under criticism for ruling against a bid by the central government to take control of an 80 billion-rupee (£385 million) development budget, saying it had to be approved by provincial councils.

The block angered the government and its supporters, .

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Local government

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