SLPP, SLFP agree to abide by key provision in 19 A as talks enter crucial stage GL: Who wants to align with those responsible for treasury bond scam or jeopardized national security?
Posted on September 2nd, 2019

By Shamindra Ferdinando Courtesy The Island

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The SLPP and the SLFP have reached a consensus on three crucial issues including the limit on the number of Cabinet ministers in keeping with the 19th Amendment to the Constitution.

The 19th Amendment, enacted in early 2015, has restricted the Cabinet to 30 unless Parliament ratifies the formation of a national government.

SLPP Chairman Prof. G.L. Peiris, in a brief interview with The Island, said that a consensus had been reached on the need for a new electoral system in respect of Local Government, Provincial Councils and parliamentary elections, the restriction of the Cabinet to 30 regardless of whatever form of administration and the allocation of ministries in a sensible and meaningful manner.

Referring to the allocation of ministries, the former External Affairs Minister said that the next government wouldn’t under any circumstances align highways portfolio with higher education or seek to bring Lotteries Board under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

On the eve of the SLFP Convention, Prof. Peiris emphasised the pivotal importance of the two parties finalising an agreement as soon as possible. Responding to another query, Prof. Peiris, who led the SLPP delegation, in his capacity as its Chairman, appreciated the contribution made by members of both delegations. SLPP strategist and former SLFP National Organiser Basil Rajapaksa participated in the most recent discussion.

Asked whether he was hopeful of the SLFP pledging its support to SLPP presidential nominee wartime Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa though the party appeared to be divided over the issue with two UPFA National List members, S. B. Dissanayake and Dilan Perera switching allegiance to the SLPP recently, Prof. Peiris explained the gradual progress made by the two parties in spite of some difficulties. “Discussions are taking place at three levels between SLPP and SLFP delegations, SLPP Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa and President Maithripala Sirisena and the SLFP and Gotabaya Rajapaksa. Former President Rajapaksa and SLFP leader Sirisena’s one-on-one at the latter’s Paget road residence and SLFP delegation meeting Gotabaya Rajapaksa at his Pangiriwatte Mawatha, Mirihana residence was quite fruitful.”

Prof. Peiris said that their primary objective was to bring all those opposed to the UNP under one banner. Asked whether he was confident the SLFP support could be secured, Prof. Peiris said that there couldn’t be any other option not only for the SLFP but any other party opposed to the UNP. The outcome of the last Local Government polls in Feb 2018 proved beyond doubt the SLPP was the dominant political party though it came to being only in mid-2015, Prof Peiris pointed out. The 2019 presidential election would demonstrate how the SLFP transformed the political landscape, Prof. Peiris said. Having comfortably won the Local Government polls over a year back, the SLFP was now poised to win both presidential and parliamentary polls.

Referring to the last round of talks between the SLPP and the SLFP, Prof. Peiris quoted Basil Rajapaksa as having raised what the objective of a particular party, in this case, the SLFP would be in respect of the forthcoming presidential election. Would it be to help someone or defeat another? Prof. Peiris quoted the former Economic Affairs Minister as having said.

There had been five rounds of talks with the SLFP so far leading to consensus on altogether about nearly two dozen matters, Prof. Peiris said, asserting that as far as he was aware there couldn’t be absolutely any difficulty in reaching a final agreement on cooperation.

Acknowledging that it would be the prerogative of the SLFP to decide on a future course of action, the former minister, who held vital portfolios in successive PA, UNP and UPFA governments, asserted that the majority of SLFP/UPFA lawmakers and the vast majority of those who exercised their franchise in support of the SLFP/UPFA at the last Local Government were now firmly back the SLPP. In the wake of war winning President Mahinda Rajapaksa taking SLPP membership, the electorate clearly understood which way the wind was blowing. Whatever the agendas various political parties pursued, no one would want to team up with those accused of robbing the Central Bank twice since the last presidential election, Prof. Peiris asserted. How could anyone possibly have those accused of complicity in Easter Sunday attacks on Sinhala and Tamil communities on their stage? Prof. Peiris asked.

The electorate would be certainly wary of those combining forces with people under a cloud over the Easter Sunday attacks, the former law professor said, ruling out an understanding whatsoever with Easter Sunday suspects.

The SLPP Chairman said that the party sought a long term working relationship with the SLFP to ensure continuity in the Rajapaksa administration. The yahapalana arrangement collapsed not only because a section of the UNP robbed the Central Bank, but the coalition lacked a proper working arrangement, he said.

Commenting on President Sirisena and SLPP leader Rajapaksa meeting, Prof. Peiris said that in a discussion of that nature confidentially was of pivotal importance. Prof. Peiris described the meeting cordial and constructive.

The former top academic appreciated SLFP delegation involved in talks with the SLPP also meeting presidential candidate Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

Dismissing UNP assertions that Gotabaya Rajapaksa lacked political experience therefore was not suitable for presidency; Prof. Peiris said the UNP owed an explanation as to why they fielded General Sarath Fonseka at the 2010 presidential.

Gotabaya Rajapaksa, in his capacity as the Defence Secretary and Secretary, Urban Development proved beyond doubt what he was capable of, Prof. Peiris said. On the other hand, the UNP couldn’t even agree on its presidential candidate and was struggling to cope up with growing differences among members of the parliamentary group, Prof. Peiris said.

Responding to recent criticism directed at the SLPP and the threat to take disciplinary action against lawmakers, S.B. Dissanayake and Dilan Perera over them switching allegiance to the SLPP, Prof. Peiris said that it couldn’t be an issue against the backdrop of over two-thirds of UPFA parliamentarians working with the Joint Opposition/SLPP. Prof. Peiris alleged that a section of the SLFP widely believed to be aligned with the UNP was pursuing a hostile line, the SLPP Chairman alleged. Prof. Peiris recalled how they refrained from voting against a No Confidence Motion (NCM) moved against PM Wickremesinghe in April 2018.

The SLPP Chairman said that those fearful of the presidential election would try to put off much delayed Elpitiya Pradeshiya Sabha election till the presidential poll was held. The PS poll would give all political parties in the presidential fray a chance to test their strength, Prof. Peiris said.

2 Responses to “SLPP, SLFP agree to abide by key provision in 19 A as talks enter crucial stage GL: Who wants to align with those responsible for treasury bond scam or jeopardized national security?”

  1. Dilrook Says:

    Abiding by all provisions in 19A is a must! It is not a choice. Otherwise it violates the Constitution.

    The next government will not be a “national” government so it cannot have more than 30 ministers. The president cannot hold a ministry which means a MP will be the defence minister. It may be Mahinda or Chamal but who will hold it after them?

  2. Randeniyage Says:

    No problems , to some they are immortals and Arahants.
    They have no greed and ignorance.

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