Determined not to reconvene Parliament despite the delay in parliamentary elections President Gotabaya Rajapaksa looks set to perpetuate executive rule as long as possible, appointing a host of presidential task forces to deal with issues surrounding the corona virus crisis and the economy.
On Monday April 27 the president appointed a task force to be in charge of health conditions inside military camps after 180 military personnel tested positive for the corona virus the biggest cluster of infections since the first reported case in the island.
He has also appointed two task forces to handle distribution of relief amid the pandemic and a committee to oversee the economy both led by his brother Basil Rajapaksa who was notorious for taking kickbacks when he served as Economic Development Minister under Mahinda Rajapaksa.
For all other activities he uses the military and the security establishment.
Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s actions have even worried high ranking members in the SLPP who are concerned that the President may come to believe that presidential rule is preferable even to ruling with a cabinet of ministers. Several SLPP ministers have been grumbling about the new state of affairs which are preventing their own access to electoral constituencies and public prominence ahead of a major election.
Colombo Telegraph learns that there are growing murmurs inside the SLPP that even Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa‘s functions as minister of finance are being usurped by the presidential secretariat.
“It’s almost like the President has even found a way to circumvent the issue of his brother as prime minister. His advisors have been warning the President for months that Mahinda Rajapaksa and his sons are one of the biggest impediments to his efficient political project. The corona virus has given him unique licence to sideline Mahinda and really run the country his own way, without needing to really take the cabinet or MPs into consideration. So not only does he not have to deal with Parliament, he doesn’t even need a cabinet,” said one political analyst watching the situation unfolding in Colombo.
The joint opposition on Monday delivered a letter to the President undertaking that they would fully support his efforts to battle corona virus and pledging that they would not move to unseat his minority Government. The undertaking is an unprecedented gesture of support to the Government from a strong opposition.
However sources told Colombo Telegraph that the undertaking has not yet changed the President’s mind about reconvening the House. (Chinthika de Silva)