Lankan President fails to win over Tamil National Alliance on the issue of Premiership

Lankan President fails to win over Tamil National Alliance on the issue of Premiership












Colombo, November 30 ( The Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena on Friday failed to get the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) to persuade the United National Front (UNF) to put up an alternative to Ranil Wickremesinghe for the post of Prime Minister.

At his meeting with the 14-member TNA parliamentary group, President Sirisena  said that he cannot get along with Wickremesinghe and requested the TNA to get the UNF to put up another candidate who he can work with.

But the TNA MPs told Sirisena that he should appoint the person who enjoys majority support in parliament and that person is undoubtedly Wickremesinghe.

The TNA urged the President to work with Wickremesinghe as it was Wickremesinghe who got him elected as President of Sri Lanka.

The President then said that he would accept whoever shows majority in the parliament. He wanted a third Motion of No Confidence tabled in the House, which would be voted upon using the foolproof electronic voting system. He had objected to the first two as they were passed by a voice vote after suspending the Standing Orders.

However, Sirisena wanted the TNA and the UNF to wait until December 7, when the Supreme Court gives its ruling on a batch of petitions challenging  the Presidential gazette dated November 9, dissolving parliament and ordering fresh elections on January 5, 2019.

But the TNA MPs  said that given the tense situation in the country,  with the Executive and the Legislature at loggerheads, it would be better not to wait until the court ruling comes. The motion could be taken on October 5 when parliament is reconvened, the MPs said.

But the President was noncommittal, the TNA source said.

The President later met the leaders of the UNF in a fresh bid to get them to put up an alternative to Wickremesighe.

Fait Accompli

Since it is now beyond doubt that Ranil Wickremesinghe is the UNF-TNA- Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) candidate for the Premiership, the President may have no option but to re-appoint him.

Wickremesinghe had been unceremoniously replaced by the SriLanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) founder-leader Mahinda Rajapaksa on October 26 even though Wickremesinghe had majority support in the House.

Sirisena’s act, described as a constitutional coup, set off a political movement which united and galvanized the disparate opposition ranks. It also earned the displeasure of the international community, including the UN

Prime Minister Rajapaksa’s government tried to muster a majority in the 225 member House but failed. It failed to defeat  two Motions of No Confidence against it.

The President had refused to recognize the two motions against Rajapaksa on the grounds that they were passed  by a voice vote.

Later, the House passed two resolutions (with 121 out of a maximum of 225 votes) barring Prime Minister Rajapaksa and his ministers from drawing government funds.

With the majority clearly with the UNF-TNA-JVP combine, President Sirisena had no option but to seek fresh meetings on Friday with the UNF, TNA and other opposition parties to find an amicable solution.

With the opposition solidly behind Wickremesinghe, Sirisena may have to appoint  Wickremesinghe again and grin a bear the situation  till the next Presidential election in December 2019 or January 2020.

The re-instatement of Wickremesinghe means giving the boot to Mahinda Rajapaksa.

This could lead to a rupture of the ties between Rajapaksa’s SLPP and Sirisena’s Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP). Alternatively,  the SLPP-SLPP alliance could continue so that they are able to taken on the UNF in the coming provincial, Presidential and parliament elections expected to be held between now and  August 2010.

Going by the statements of Rajapaksa, he is  committed to the alliance with the SLFP .He is after all a chip of the old SLFP block.

Further ,as Rajapaksa has said many times, he is more keen on  going for early elections than in being Prime Minister of an interim pre-election government.

However, all the above mentioned exercises will not take place if the seven-member bench of the Supreme Court rules on December 7, that the November  9 Presidential gazette dissolving parliament and ordering fresh elections wa lawful and constitutional.

The current battle, which is taking place within parliament, will then be taken to the electoral arena where the arbiters will be the people and not a small group of 225 MPs.

(The featured picture at the top shows Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena with TNA leader R.Sampanthan)



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