President Maithripala Sirisena, speaking after Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe‘s swearing-in, said his statement on not giving the premiership to the UNP Leader even if 225 MPs approved of it only reflected his personal opinion.
“My personal opinion on this matter still remains unchanged. But, I decided to reappoint Ranil Wickremesinghe as the Prime Minister as I have the utmost respect for parliamentary traditions,” Sirisena said in his speech.
He also referred to several statements made by pro-UNP activists that the President’s actions could lead to violence and Sirisena might suffer the same fate as Gaddafi. “Sri Lanka had many leaders in the past who faced numerous problems. Some of them, like JR Jayewardene, ruled the country with an iron fist. But no one dared to make such claims, as they knew the dire consequences of such threats.”
“In my case”, the President said, “they freely express their anger as they know I won’t take revenge. I am the kind of leader who will open the gates of my house even if the public wants to lay siege to my residence. I will allow unruly protestors to harm me if that is their wish.”
Commenting on the Central Bank bond issue. Sirisena said the previous government hampered investigations into the Bond issue and allowed former Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran to abscond the law enforcement authorities.
He also added bond scams took place from 2008 and the Bond Commission stressed the need for a forensic investigation to unearth details about such scams. “To date, a forensic investigation has been carried out by the Central Bank over the possible scams that have taken place since 2008. Even this morning I checked this matter with the Central Bank Governor and he confirmed that no action had been taken.”
Sirisena also stated that the appointments made by the Constitutional Council established under the 19th Amendment are questionable. He said the Constitutional Council refused to appoint several nominees, recommended by him, to the judiciary.
“They have turned down the names of some senior judges recommended by me. As a result, there are concerns in the legal circles that the senior judges do not get the promotions they deserve. But I have done my part by recommending their names. This brings the impartiality of the Constitutional Council into question,” Sirisena added.
Sirisena also added that he acted on the advice of legal experts and “high profile” Presidents Counsel when he issued gazette notifications which were later overturned by the judiciary.
“I did not act like a toddler. I consulted high-profile lawyers and well-known legal experts. Some of the finest lawyers in the country defended my conduct in the judiciary. This means I have acted in good faith, in accordance with the advice given to me,” he added.
Watch the full speech in Sinhala: