Sri Lanka President objects to ‘national government’ move

ECONOMYNEXT – President Maithripala Sirisena marked the country’s independence anniversary by attacking his cohabitation administration and expressing opposition to a proposed “national government” that will include defectors from his party.

Sirisena said he had seen media reports of plans to establish a national government that will allow Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to expand his cabinet and accommodate legislators from other parties.

The United National Front (UNF) government has told Speaker Karu Jayasuriya that it wants to join with a Sri Lanka Muslim Congress MP and form a unity government as defined by the 19th amendment to the constitution.

However, political sources said the real objective of the UNF move was to engineer defections from the Sirisena faction of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party to bolster the parliamentary majority of the government.

The UNF, whose main constituent partner is the United National Party (UNP), does not have a simple majority on its own and must depend on the Tamil National Alliance. However, engineering 10 to 12 defections from Sirisena’s SLFP faction would give stability to the UNF regime.

President Sirisena made use of the independence anniversary to critique Wickremesinghe, who helped him win the January 2015 presidential election.

The government he had formed with Wickremesinghe in 2015 had failed to deliver a solution to the country’s “national question” and had been unable to deliver economic success, Sirisena said.

He said voters had done their duty to the nation by voting governments out, but political parties had failed the people.  (COLOMBO, February 4, 2019 – SB)

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