Making a controversial speech at the national Independence Day ceremony at Galle Face Green, President Maithripala Sirisena hit out at the UNP’s motion to form a national government in Parliament while also criticizing his chosen-Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa.
“From what I saw in the media, there is a plan to form a national government with the support of a party that has only one seat in Parliament. It is important to think whether such an act is ethical,” Sirisena said, addressing the ceremony.
“The purpose of such a national government is to increase the number of Cabinet portfolios,” the President added hitting out at the ruling UNP, led by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe who was also in the audience.
“As there is only one party in the government, a Cabinet of 25 members would be sufficient to run the government,” Sirisena said. He also added that Sri Lanka was struggling with its strategy for IT education while the world was moving towards Digital Economy.
Sirisena also launched a subtle attack on former President Mahinda Rajapaksa when he said he ended “terror” (Bheeshanaya) in the country after January 2015. “However, we could not eliminate corruption as promised. We need to see how many of our politicians have a genuine need to eliminate bribery and corruption.”
Sirisena, in another attack on the former President, also said the country should be saved from nepotism and family-centric practices.
Rajapaksa was also in the audience when Sirisena made his Independence Day speech – the last one in his current term. It was, however, Rajapaksa’s first national Independence Day ceremony after he fell out of power in January 2015.
President of the Maldives Mohamed Ibrahim Solih was the Guest of Honour at Sri Lanka’s Independence Day ceremony this year.
Former Army Commander Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka was the notable absentee at the event. Fonseka said he was only invited as a ruling party MP for the event, and not as the only Field Marshal in the country. Fonseka told the media that he would not attend the ceremony if the government did not give due respect to his military title.
Meanwhile, Colombo Telegraph also found out Sirisena has not published his full speech on his official website as at 2.30 PM (SL time) on Monday ( February 04). The President delivered the Independence Day speech around 9 AM in the morning.