The United National Party Parliamentary Group is not agreeable to support the dissolution of Parliament immediately but will consider it only if the date of the General Election is fixed on or after February 15, the Leader of the House Lakshman Kiriella told RepublicNext.
Kiriella said the dates of the election would be discussed in the next few days and that Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe is due to meet President Gotabaya Rajapaksa tomorrow. The PM will inform the President that “we are prepared to hand over government at any time,” he added.
Kiriella who told us the PM will resign within 24 hours said that this may get delayed as Wickremesinghe hasn’t yet been given a time to meet the President.
A majority of the MPs at a Parliamentary Group meeting held last evening say they are willing to give up their posts and sit in Opposition anytime.
“We have all decided to resign our posts and sit in the opposition and allow the President to appoint a government,” Kiriella said.
He recalled that the government of Mahinda Rajapaksa had done the same thing when the United National Front won the Presidency in 2015. “We formed a government with just 40 MPs,” he said.
Under the 19th Amendment, the President can dissolve Parliament only 4.5 years after its first sitting which was on Sept 1, 2015. Rajapaksa has that power from March 1, 2020, onwards.
The only other way for Parliament to be dissolved is for the MPs to pass a resolution to do so by a two-thirds majority for which the MPs supporting the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna would need the support of the UNP.
“There is also a Party Leaders meeting to be held in the next few days at which some of these decisions will be discussed,” Kiriella said.
There are 89 days from today to February 15 and that will give the beleaguered UNP time to recoup after the drubbing they received at the Presidential poll. Many of the Cabinet Ministers lost their electoral districts as Sajith Premadasa was decimated in the Deep South.
The MPs meeting was reportedly stormy with acrimonious exchanges between MPs supporting Premadasa and the others. Premadasa, however, did not attend today’s meeting, sources told RepublicNext.
Kiriella also said that Wickremesinghe will take up the issue that UNP supporters are being attacked and harassed in all parts of the country with the President.
He also dispelled rumours that the UNP was going to split.