In an apparent rejection of demands from his own Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) to quit the coalition with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s United National Party (UNP) and form a new SLFP government, President Maithripala Sirisena stressed that there was no need for him to form a new government with anyone.
“I don’t have to form a new government with anyone. I call upon all of them to join hands with the incumbent government to take the country forward,” President Sirisena said at the event to mark second anniversary of his presidency at the BMICH over the weekend.
President Sirisena has been under pressure from party stalwarts for an SLFP government in collaboration with the Rajapaksa faction of the party. Although he appeared to be giving into this pressure, it is for the first time he has rejected their plea outright, citing the mandate he received from the people two years ago.
He said that the incumbent National Unity government “will stay to fulfil the mandate it received two years ago on this day from the 6.2 million people who voted for the pledge in the election manifesto to form a consensual government”.
The SLFP Central Committee, which coincidently met on the same day has made some key decisions, aimed at strengthening the SLFP’s poisition at the expense of the incumbent unity government.
After the CC meeting, SLFP stalwart Dr. Sarath Amunugama told the BBC that the party high command has decided that there was no need for a new constitution or the abolition of the executive presidency, but has agreed to fully implement the 13 Amendment.
President Sirisena, however, has rejected that idea too in the presence of Prime Minister Wickremesinghe. Instead, he reiterated that the people voted him to power “to restore democracy, media freedom, bring about ethnic reconciliation, draft a new constitution, lift the economy from the depths of indebtedness, and improve relations with the international community by following a non-aligned foreign policy”.
According Dr Amunugama, the party has also decided to field President Sirisena again at the presidential candidate for the 2020 presidential election.
Another party stalwart, who is also lobbying for a “pure SLFP government” told Ceylon News on condition of anonymity on Tuesday that the SLFP CC has also recommended to nominate a member of the Rajapaksa family as the prime ministerial candidate under the new Sirisena presidency.
This has come at a time a few days after the deposed president claimed that he would work with anti-government forces to topple the Sirisena-Ranil government in 2017.
Responding this challenge, President Sirisena said that he “is not worried about statements or actions of those who are making hollow noises” to topple the government this year.
“I dare say that this strong government cannot be toppled and no one will be allowed to topple this national unity government which was formed amidst challenges and obstacles. Certain politicians, who no longer have the people’s support, are boasting that the government will be toppled. But, I must say that this is only a pipe dream,” he said.
“No need to talk about toppling the government. Your duty is to take the country forward with this politically elected government,” the President said.