23 September, 2019

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Sirisena’s Last ‘Trump Card’: Sowing Discord In UNP & Engineering Leadership Tussle

By Rasika Jayakody

Rasika Jayakody

It was not too long ago that President Maithripala Sirisena told the SLFP All Island Executive Committee that he had many “trump cards” up his sleeve. His statement grabbed headlines in the immediate aftermath of the appointment of purported Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa that was followed by the prorogation of Parliament.

In the days that followed, Sirisena appointed a number of Cabinet members to his purported government on a staggered basis and then dissolved Parliament, sharply contravening all constitutional barriers imposed by the 19th Amendment preventing such action by the Executive. He also attempted to engineer crossovers to solidify the position of Rajapaksa, but did not elicit a positive response from many of the UNPers he approached.

When the Supreme Court thwarted Sirisena’s first attempt to dissolve Parliament and hold snap elections, the President saw himself  caught between a rock and a hard place. His chosen Prime Minister Rajapaksa, did not have the numbers to demonstrate a simple majority in Parliament, and suffered three humiliating defeats in the House – including two back to back no-confidence motions. As a result of this, the country is now saddled with a government lacking legitimacy and an obstinate President refusing to accept the will of the legislature.

President Maithripala Sirisena has now exhausted all his options – his “trump cards”, if you will. The UNP has stood its ground, throwing its full support behind party leader Ranil Wickremesinghe, and Sirisena’s attempts to appoint another UNP parliamentarian as PM through the ‘backdoor’ have proven futile. Even though Sirisena has categorically ruled out the possibility of Wickremesinghe being re-appointed Prime Minister, the President has little legal room to manoeuvre.

The current impasse is proving to be costly for former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his camp, which had seemed well positioned to secure a comprehensive victory at the next Parliamentary election, before the outbreak of this political crisis. As a senior UPFA Parliamentarian Kumara Welgama, a long time ally of the former President, aptly explains, the appointment of Rajapaksa as Prime Minister without the support of Parliament has brought a curse upon their own political movement.

The statement issued by former President Rajapaksa, this last  Sunday evening, is  also a manifestation of his current plight. In an uncharacteristically defensive statement, Rajapaksa said the government he formed on October 26 was only an “interim” government  and that he would need more time to form a stable one. It showed the former war-winning President, who was riding the crest of a populist wave before October 26, in a hapless position in which he is made to apologetically explain his actions to party supporters.

Moving forward, Parliament this week will vote on two motions, that will seek to cut off budgetary allocations to the Prime Minister’s Office and other ministries, held by members of the purported Cabinet. The two motions are likely to pass in Parliament with a clear majority, plunging Rajapaksa and his camp into deeper chaos. In the face of this humiliation  in Parliament and imminent legal battles over the legitimacy of his government, Rajapaksa will come under intense pressure to step down from his portfolio and resort to urgent damage-control measures.

In the current context, President Sirisena’s last and only ‘trump card’ seems to be sowing discord within the UNP, attempting to  pit Deputy Leader Sajith Premadasa against Wickremesinghe in a tussle for party leadership. It is clear that Sirisena’s anti-Wickremesinghe advisors and the media tycoons working hand-in-glove with him have launched a feverish campaign to discredit  the party leadership from within the camp. Sadly, a  section of hot-headed and impetuous UNP MPs have failed to comprehend the gravity of the current political crisis, and may even fall prey to Sirisena’s solipsistic plan.

At the heart of this struggle to restore Parliamentary democracy is the need to establish a pre-October 26 status quo and to force Sirisena to accept Wickremesinghe as the Prime Minister until the next Presidential election, which should precede the Parliamentary election. As I have pointed out in a previous article, all internal issues of the party should be resolved after Wickremesinghe’s reinstatement, and Sirisena, a man who has grossly and grotesquely violated the Constitution, should have no say in such matters.

All attempts to force leadership within the UNP at the moment give an undue advantage to President Sirisena who has come under increasing pressure, locally and internationally, to end his arbitrary, unconstitutional and undemocratic actions. At no point should the UNP act in a manner that condones and justifies Sirisena’s erratic behavior, which triggered a political crisis that has shattered the very foundations of Parliamentary democracy in Sri Lanka. This is exactly why the need to restore the ‘pre-October 26’ status quo, which includes the reinstatement of Wickremesinghe, is a non-negotiable component of the current struggle.

The challenge for the UNP, at this point, is to ensure that all its parliamentarians stay true to the core objectives of the pro-democratic struggle, despite their personal ambitions and desperation to oust Wickremesinghe from the helm of the party. The party should remain united in its demand for restoration of pre-October 26, 2018 and consider internal reforms within the UNP a matter of secondary importance. Should the UNP fail to understand its priorities at this point in time, the party will end up pandering to the ambitions of its main adversary – President Maithripala Sirisena.

*Rasika Jayakody is the former Editor of the Daily News and the former Editor-in-Chief of Asian Mirror. He may be contacted at rasikajayakody2@gmail.com  

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Latest comments

  • 4
    18

    Dude Rasika, its time for Bondscam Ranil who looted the Central Bank and people of Sri Lanka and made Parliament a Cesspit of corruption with Luxury SUV bribes, and was asset stripping and selling Lanka’s strategic lands, transport and energy infrastructure to his Washington handlers after putting Lanka in a foreign aid and bond debt trap and crashing the rupee – time for Bond Ranil to GET OUT!
    Clown Sira should have impeached Bond Ranil when the PCOI Report on the Bondscam came out – better late than never.
    Also, Bondscam Ranil must be held accountable for his financial crimes and share the same Prison Cell with Mahinda Jarapassa who he protected for the past 3.5 years.

  • 14
    1

    Having suffered a humiliating defeat after the passing of no-confident motion against Mahinda Rajapakse, there is no reason why President Maithiripala Sirisena is so adamant in not appointing Ranil Wickremasinghe as Prime Minister. It is a fact that Ranil Wickremasinghe knows every look holes where Maithiripala Sirisena and Mahinda Rajapakse intend to encroach and plunder the wealth of Sri Lanka when giving tenders to foreign countries without observing the usual guidelines. Here Ranil Wickremasinghe stands as a checkmate when such tenders are offered to China. Hambantota Port project is a case in point. So long as Ranil Wickremasinghe enjoys and commands the majority in the House, it is a headache for Maithiripala Sirisena. This is very clear when Maithiripala says that he won’t appoint Ranil as Prime Minister. Moreover, Maithiripala wants Mahinda Rajapakse also to be a Prime Minister when appointing a person from the UNP as Prime Minister, which sends the signal that Maithiripala wanted a split to occur within the UNP. . Maithiripala’s sinister motive is very clear, In such an event, Mahinda Rajapakse should have resigned honourably. It is utter shame for Maithiripala Sirisena to be President for Sri Lanka as well as to Buddhism. Maithiripala Sirisena should realize that Sri Lanka is practising democracy and not Chinese communism.

  • 4
    11

    If I had to choose among Bondscam Ranil, Mahinda Jarapassa and Clown Sira; without hesitation would chose Sira as the lesser evil by far.
    By sacking Bondscam Ranil and his Fashion-designer Finance Minister, Mangy, who took instructions from Millennium Challenge Corp (MCC), and IMF, Sira has saved Lanka from turning into a Greece-like debacle which was being asset stripped to benefit US-related sovereign bond traders who hold 55% of Sri Lanka’s debt and work for the Global 1 percent and America First.
    Ranil and Mangy are an insult to the people of Lanka who Ranil in any case treats with contempt even as he fawns over the white-skinned so-called ‘international community’. RW, Mangy, Sagala, Malick and their gay club are puppets of Trump-land in its Cold War with China in the India Ocean — having swallowed Washington’s Fake news and human rights narrative. But check out the Kashoggi murder, war in Yemen, arms exports, and Trump’s best buddies in Saudi and Israel for the truth about America’s love for Human Rights!

  • 11
    0

    “At no point should the UNP act in a manner that condones and justifies Sirisena’s erratic behavior, which triggered a political crisis that has shattered the very foundations of Parliamentary democracy in Sri Lanka. This is exactly why the need to restore the ‘pre-October 26’ status quo, which includes the reinstatement of Wickremesinghe, is a non-negotiable component of the current struggle”

    Very TRUE. The UNP should stand its ground and insist that the pre October 26, status quo is restored. THIS SHOULD BE NON-NEGOTIABLE.

    In the present deadlock, it is the UNP that is on top of the situation and with the Parliament confronting the President on the same stand, that is to restore the pre-October 26 status quo, the UNP should NOT RELENT.
    The President along with MR and the illegal “government & cabinet” are with their backs to wall at the moment, do not give them a leverage. Stand steadfast they will have to back down eventually. The stacks are on the UNP camp and with the international community still to recognize the new illegal “government and cabinet”they cannot go on and live like frogs in a well.
    Sri Lanka needs to step out and it is then that Sirisena & MR would know that we cannot live isolated from the world community.
    The UNP needs to keep the pressure on and call for a Presidential election and NOT a general election.

  • 9
    0

    President Maithripala Sirisena has now exhausted all his options – his “trump cards”, if you will.

    When he plays the trump card the UNP see he cannot make it to work the trump card works on his side only not internationally. When mistakes happened to during the last 3 years he should have used to put things correct but what he did was it is not peoples choice his grudge to RW and now Sarath Fonseka

  • 1
    4

    I see you are advising the UNP and wish it well. I guess then you are a supporter. I can’t expect objective statements.

  • 6
    0

    He’d have a chance had he not been so blatant. When hornet’s nest is stired, the hornets have one mission – unite in stinging the stirer.

  • 7
    0

    in tamil there is a saying: ‘ellam nanmaike’.’ every thing for good ‘is the literal translation. as result of all actions of the president;
    a) my3 lost all chances for winning any presidential elections in the future. politically he is finished.
    b)mahinda had substantial mass support which is also getting lost.
    c)weakness of the 19th amendment is clear.
    d)ranil has enhanced his support by being not getting upset about a serious setback engineered by my3.
    -dayal

  • 5
    0

    It is clear that Sirisena’s anti-Wickremesinghe advisors and the media tycoons working hand-in-glove with him have launched a feverish campaign to discredit the party leadership from within the camp. Sadly, a section of hot-headed and impetuous UNP MPs have failed to comprehend the gravity of the current political crisis, and may even fall prey to Sirisena’s solipsistic plan. On the the other hand when the things are sorted out for Ranil, it is as clear as day light his usual behavior which led to down fall UNP.

  • 4
    0

    Rasika Jayakody: There is an unwritten rule “When in doubt, play trump”. Sometimes this actually works!
    MS has made a rash double-redouble bid – possibly manipulated.
    He will have to pay if he loses.

  • 4
    0

    A neat and well accomplished article.rasika jayakody seems to understand the big picture.

  • 1
    0

    Well written article. Congratulations Rasika Jayakody!

    You have clearly set out the (correct and sensible) path the UNP, as a party, must take. Whether you are a supporter of the UNP or not, there is no other option for the UNP right now. Let us see whether the UNP will take your advice.

    Even if one is a supporter of one party or the other, for a proper analysis (which is hardly seen in Sri Lanka media), the analyst must put his party affiliations aside. I believe that Rasika has done it.

    Analyses like this are rare, and I would encourage Rasika to take this further. It would be great if you can use your analytical skills and set out the (correct and sensible) path that is open to MR and his party. Many of MR’s supporters, and even some oponents, may not appreciate it, but I am sure that MR would take notice. The former President reminds me of the (poor) man who caught the proverbial tiger by the tail. Isn’t it pathetic that MS, not stopping at defeating MR at the last Presidential election, has again derailed ‘our tiger slayer’ when he was on a high speed locomotive to success. Of course Rasika you have to restrict yourself to facts, and avoid being critical of MR. You do the analysis, and the readers will do the criticism.

    Finally if Rasika can help President MS by analysing his current situation, and showing him the (legal and sensible) path that the President can take, may be ………… You know, miracles can happen! The trick is to state the facts and not to be critical.

    Look forward to reading more articles from you. Good luck!

  • 0
    0

    Next option is to make use of Bond Scam players around 15 to 20 of them arrested with orders from Big Boss and have government majority.

  • 1
    0

    Rasika you, me as well people with sense understood what MS is up to.It ain,t rocket science. The questions is did our retarded public understand??? If so what are they going to do?????? If knowing well and pretending not to then what??????? Do anyone understand the role of MR in this game plan???? Was it hatched by MR or MS or both?????? I strongly disagree with the opinion that MS convinced MR with false hope, the numbers (half baked shit) and succeeding in hijacking the constitution. I strongly disagree with them. In my opinion MR is a professional in heist when compared to MS. MR knew his chances were bright with next election. It would have been difficult to convince him with this suicidal mission unless he got greedy and could not wait like in previous attempt. MR,s hand prints are pretty visible in this day light robbery. May be premature retirement has taken an edge off. Lets wait and see the outcome.

  • 4
    0

    Srisenana te CROOK doesnt have a trump card only pack of lies

    First he said RW was sacked because of the plot to bump him off.
    Then he changed the story and he said because RW was attempting to Lease everything to India
    Then it changed to Corruption under RW.

    What he hasnt revealed is the it was he and MR leased everything to China forcing India to take the Lease using force.
    It was MR and him who swindled Billions from China making MR the 6th Richest in the Country. How did the Hambanthotta peasant become so rich.

    MS has no trump card . Once he ceases to be Preseident soon he should be charged for ABUSE of Power.

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