ECONOMYNEXT — The Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) has said it will fully support a move to abolish the the executive presidency, even as the main opposition Samagi Jana Balawegaya cries foul at what it’s calling a tactic to delay elections.
SLFP chairman and former President Maithripala Sirisena said speaking at an event on Monday February 12 that his party would be fully behind a speculated referendum to abolish the presidency.
“What we hear is that a referendum will be held on abolishing the executive presidency. If there is such a referendum, we the SLFP will raise not one hand but both in support,” he said.
SJB MP Mujibur Rahuman, meanwhile, accused President Ranil Wickremesinghe of scheming to delay the presidential elections scheduled to be held by October this year.
“The local government election was delayed because the Rajapaksas and Wickremesinghes would lose. The president who postponed that election, now realising that he cannot win the presidential election, he is trying to abolish the executive presidency,” he said.
Rahuman resigned from his parliamentary seat to contest the local government polls as the SJB’s candidate for Colombo Mayor.
“He’s trying to cancel any elections he can’t win,” the former MP said referring to Wickremesinghe.
Sirisena said speaking at a separate event on Sunday that Wickremesinghe has tasked a group of lawyers with looking into abolishing the executive presidency and it is unclear whether a referendum or parliamentary poll will come first.
According to Sirisena, the group of lawyers is headed by former Speaker Karu Jayasuriya.
In a recent interview with India’s WION network, Wickremesinghe was noncommittal about contesting the presidential election that should constitutionally be held by at least October 17 this year. He did, however, say “both presidential and parliament” elections are due when asked about elections happening in 2024.
Asked how optimistic he is of his own chances, Wickremesinghe said: “For me to be back, I must contest.”
When pressed for his plan, he said: “I have come here to put the economy into order. My first order is to focus on that we get out of bankruptcy.”
There was no confirmation from the president that he would definitely be running. (Colombo/Feb13/2024)