Intense discussions among multiple parties and personalities continue five days after the main parties of the ruling coalition were routed at the recently concluded local government elections.
Colombo Telegraph learns that a UNP delegation which included party leader and prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, Deputy Leader Sjaith Premadasa, Chairman Malik Samarawickrema and Akila Viraj Kariyawasam had met for several hours this evening with President Maithripala Sirisena regarding formalizing a cabinet reshuffle.
While the UNP wants to go it alone, there have been moves to oust Wickremesinghe and appoint an SLFPer in his place, most likely Nimal Siripala Silva. Silva, however would have to show a majority before Friday in accordance with directions given by the President.
Although UPFA Deputy Minister Nishantha Muthuhettigamage claimed that 15 UNP Parliamentarians had agreed to join them to form a UPFA Government, there is no indication of anything of the sort being on the cards. Arumugam Thondaman and the CWC have pledged to support President Sirisena at this point.
On the other hand, there’s also talk of several SLFP MPs joining hands with the UNP to enable that party to secure a Parliamentary majority. The UNP at present has 107 seats and requires just 6 more to obtain a majority. Wickremesinghe believes that the TNA will not support any move to oust him at this point.
These moves have been necessitated by the fact that Parliament cannot be dissolved before March 2020 following limitations scripted into the 19th Amendment. The crisis is a result of the Parliament’s current composition not reflecting the general will of the people as evidenced by the results of the local government elections.
Meanwhile there has been a sharp exchange between Minister Rajitha Senaratne and former president Mahinda Rajapaksa with regard to the position of the victorious Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna on these machinations.
Senaratne, claimed at the Cabinet press briefing that Rajapaksa had requested Wickremesinghe not to step down. Rajapaksa however rejected this claim.
“It is a deliberate lie; this is another lie of Rajitha. As a senior minister he should now stop uttering these kinds of lies and making irresponsible statements,” Rajapaksa told the media at the Narahenpita Abhayarama Temple.