Sri Lanka opposition to back national unity administration

ECONOMYNEXT – President Maithripala Sirisena’s Sri Lanka Freedom Party will back a government of national unity at least for two years, party secretary Duminda Dissanayake told reporters today.

He said the Central Committee of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party gave powers to President Sirisena to decide on the shape of a “national government for at least two years.”

The party appointed a five-member panel headed by former President Chandrika Kumaratrunga  to work out the details with the United National Party (UNP) of Prime Minister-elect Ranil Wickremesinghe.

In the meantime, Wickremesinghe is to be sworn in as Prime Minister tomorrow at 10.00 am at the Presidential Secretariat by President Sirisena. It is not clear if the cabinet too will be sworn in tomorrow, but the new government is likely to include some Sirisena loyalists in it.

The UNP won 106 seats on its own and has the support of a SLMC seat. But they are still short of another six seats to cross the 113 required to enjoy an absolute majority in the 225-member house.

However, 14 SLFP men had already held talks with the UNP to support a new government. But, with the national government idea floated by the SLFP Central Committee today, Ranil Wickremesinghe could end up with a two thirds majority to push his reforms as well as national reconciliation plans.

"Ranil is keen to push reconciliation and resolve the national (ethnic) issue," a source close to him said. "What he wants to do is that no one makes political capital out of a situation where you will have to give more authority to minority communities."

A national government would be an ideal platform to push reconciliation and address accountability issues that are being raised in the UN Human Rights Council report that is being unveiled next month. (Colombo/Aug20/2015)

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