With President Maithripala Sirisena imploring the members of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) not to quit the unity government, there are signs that the crisis produced by the unprecedented defeat suffered by the ruling UNP-SLFP coalition is nearing its end.
Sirisena is reported to have made this request to a set of SLFP ministers who met him today.
While Sirisena was pushing for a UNP government not led by Ranil Wickremesinghe or else a new government formed with the support of the Joint Opposition, it now appears that neither can materialize.
The anticipated moves within the UNP to oust Wickremesinghe did not happen and neither could the President’s hand-picked choice for the Prime Minister post, Nimal Siripala De Silva, get the numbers needed.
Consequently Sirisena appears to have reverted to what may have been the only choice open to him notwithstanding his rhetoric, that of giving the unity-arrangement with the UNP another go. It is reported that the decision was taken on Sunday (18) when he met with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and the Speaker Karu Jayasuriya. Accordingly a cabinet reshuffle is scheduled for Wednesday (21), effectively bringing to and end all talk of alternative arrangements.
Wickremesinghe, for his part, although expressing confidence of the UNP going solo in a new administration, appears to have backed down, either because he didn’t have the numbers himself or because the ending of the unity-arrangement was seen as a move that would strengthen the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna, the clear victor at the local government elections.
There are unconfirmed reports that several SLFP MPs are to join hands with the Joint Opposition.
As of now, there is no indication that the Opposition Leader’s post will be given to someone from the Joint Opposition, even though its political face, the SLPP, emerged as the undisputed voice of the opposition at the election.