Political uncertainty is not showing any signs of abating in the midst of rumors regarding crossovers and horse-trading in the aftermath of the recently concluded local government election,
The uneasy political alliance between the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and the United National Party (UNP) is all but torn apart following the February 10th electoral defeat of both parties at the hands of the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP).
Colombo Telegraph learns that the leaders of the two parties, President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe as well their staunchest backers are in the midst of frenzied negotiations with key MPs in order to cobble together a working majority.
Sirisena initially had agreed to the UNP going solo and forming a government with a cabinet reduced to 30 members as per the requirements of the 19th Amendment provided that Wickremesinghe steps down in favor of someone else. He appears to have abandoned this plan and is reported to be focusing on forming an SLFP-led Government.
The General Secretary of the UPFA, the coalition led by the SLFP, Mahinda Amaraweera has written to Sirisena stating that a government should be formed without Wickremesinghe. These sentiments had also been echoed by party stalwart Susil Premajayanth.
Wickremesinghe however had informed Sirisena that he has the full backing of the party. Colombo Telegraph learns that several SLFP MPs including Duminda Disanayake, Sarath Amunugama, Mahinda Samarasinghe and Vijithamuni Soyza are ready to join the UNP led government and help it control a minimum of 113 seats necessary for a clear majority.
Sirisena meanwhile is exploring the possibility of manipulating the parliamentary arithmetic to have an SLFPer as the Prime Minister. According to party sources Sirisena’s choice is Nimal Siripala de Silva who has been told to demonstrate that he has a majority backing him in Parliament by Friday.
There are also moves by certain elements to have the Speaker, Karu Jayasuriya, take up the Prime Minister’s post. Jayasuriya is said to have expressed a willingness provided that such a move has the full backing of the UNP.
According to sources close to the various parties, Rauff Hakeem and the SLMC will back Wickremesinghe who believes that the TNA would support him if a no-confidence motion is brought against him. Arumugam Thondaman’s CWS and the EPDP are set to back Sirisena.
Meanwhile Mahinda Rajapaksa, the de-facto leader of the SLPP, has expressed the view that the party would support an SLFP premier but would not accept portfolios in an SLFP government in the event that it is established.
While Sirisena is expected to make a special statement to the nation either on Thursday or Friday, political uncertainty is expected to continue for a few more days or even longer.