Sri Lanka president indicates ending power-struggle

ECONOMYNEXT – President Maithripala Sirisena indicated a softening of his stance and agreed to end the constitutional deadlock by recognising the United National Party as being the largest single group to form a new government, official sources said.

Talks between him and Speaker Karu Jayasuriya ended on an optimistic note, the Speaker’s office said without giving details of their closed-door talks with the Presidential Secretariat in Colombo.

Sirisena will have a round of talks with the leaders of the UNP an their allies on Friday before announcing a decision, officials said.

However, official sources said Sirisena accepted that Ranil Wickremesinghe’s United National Party (UNP) had the majority in parliament and therefore it should be recognised as the party with the first shot at forming a new administration.

Jayasuriya and Sirisena did not discuss the future of Wickremesinghe, the sources said adding that the two discussed the principle of accepting the party with the majority over Mahinda Rajapaksa’s purported government which has failed to prove its majority.

Sirisena’s own Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) has walked back on his stand on Sunday that he will not reinstate Ranil Wickremesinghe in his life time after sacking him as prime minister on October 26.

SLFP seniors have taken pains to explain that Sirisena never meant never and thereby keeping the door open for accepting Wickremesinghe.

The UNP’s position was strengthened with the TNA pledging their 14 seats to restore the government that existed before October 26 when Sirisena shocked the world by sacking Wickremesinghe and appointing his former foe Mahinda Rajapaksa as a replacement.

For his part, Rajapaksa has vowed to stay on until the Supreme Court decides of the legality of Sirisena’s action in sacking the legislature on November 9. A court decision is likely on December 7.

(COLOMBO, November 29, 2018)






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