Sri Lanka minister banks on President’s integrity

ECONOMYNEXT – Housing Minister Sajith Premadasa Monday dismissed reports of a "caretaker" administration and said he had full confidence in President Maithripala Sirisena to honour his mandate to work with the current coalition.

Premadasa said Sirisena risked his life to defect from the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and challenge an autocratic presidency of Mahinda Rajapaksa at the January 2015 election.

“The president will speak with anyone, but he will not betray the mandate he received in 2015,” Premadasa said addressing a rally at Kekirawa in the Anuradhapura district.

He said weekend media reports suggested that Rajapaksa wanted to join hands with Sirisena and establish a “caretaker” administration, but the President knew that the intentions were not honourable.

Constitutionally, the president has no power to form any other government without dislodging Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe who can only be toppled through a no-trust vote in parliament.

An attempt to oust Wickremesinghe failed in April and led to the breakup of Sirisena’s faction of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party with a group of 16 crossing over to support the Rajapaksa faction. Even if both Rajapaksa and Sirisena factions unite, they are still short of a considerable number of votes to bring down Wickremesinghe.

The latest speculation of a fresh move to outs Wickremesinghe was fueled by a report that both Sirisena and Rajapaksa have had a secret meeting at the residence of former minister S. B. Dissanayake last week.

Meanwhile, Dissanayake issued a denial on Monday saying that he had only hosted a dinner at which Rajapaksa was a guest but there was no meeting between Sirisena and the former president at his home.

The Rajapaksa faction of the SLFP has scheduled a meeting of all its key members on Tuesday, political sources said. (COLOMBO, October 8, 2018)

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