Sep 21, 2019

Sajith’s solo journey commences next week: TNA lays conditions to support Sajith Featured

UNP Deputy Leader Sajith Premadasa will be opening an election campaign office at Vauxhall Street, Colombo, it is reported.

Sajith is expected to hand over his election campaign operations to former UNP General Secretary Tissa Attanayake.

The Sunday Lankadeepa newspaper had reported that former Minister Imtiaz Bakeer Marker would be appointed as the head of this operations office.

The Aruna newspaper had also reported that a group of 17 SLFP –MPs had proposed to President Sirisena that the SLFP should refrain from joining any proposed coalition formed by Sajith Premadasa in the event he does not
receive presidential nominations from the UNP.

Only three out of the 21 SLFP – MPs were in support of joining Sajith’s coalition, while the rest of the SLFP-MPs were against it.

However, a Spokesman of the party Weerakumara Dissanayake had said during a media briefing that the SLFP would field a seperate candidate from the party. He had also noted that discussions were being held with other forces.

Meanwhile, the President had instructed the SLFP General Secretary not to stop the planned series of district level conferences which commenced from Ratnapura. Another rally is planned to be held in Matale today (21). 

Why cant Sajith win over the Working Committee?

One of the main reasons that Sajith has not been able to win over the UNP Working Committee is his inability to win over the TNA, according to UNP internal sources.

According to reliable sources, although Sajith can win the support of the UNF leaders, if he is to win the support of the Working Committee he needs to win the support of either the TNA or the JVP and prove it.

Why Sajitn hasn’t Ranil’s support?

Accordingly, the TNA is currently supporting Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

M.A. Sumanthiran’s conditions to Sajith

TNA-MP M.A. Sumanthiran has said that in the event Sajith claims he would abolish the Executive Presidency after the election, as an assurance Sajith should support the proposal to have it passed in parliament.

He said this during a special interview with Sri Lanka Mirror.

Sumanthiran further said, “After the November 2018 incident in violation of the constitution, prior to the re-establishment of the UNP government, the TNA held talks with the UNF leaders.

At that meeting our prime focus was on taking the Constitutional Council draft of the constitution forward. The party leaders assured us that they would present it to parliament in January.

It was according to that assurance that the Prime Minister presented the Constitutional reform proposal to parliament as a second interim report on January 11, 2019.

There were three factors contained in this proposal. First is the abolishment of the Executive Presidency, second is the devolution of power to provide a solution to the national problem and the third is to reform
the electoral system.

Thereafter, we were told that in order to take the constitutional amendment proposal forward the government needs a 2/3rd majority in parliament, but that the government does not have that majority.

Hence, we spoke with the President in February or March. The Prime Minister, several senior UNP and SLFP members all sat with us and discussed how best we could take this proposal forward. After the talks a four member committee was appointed and I was part of that committee. But, even though we proposed how the power sharing mechanism could be taken forward, it did not materialise. Periodically we discussed this issue with the President.

The President told me that as the abolishment of the Executive Presidency was an election promise made by him, it should be done prior to the end of his term. He also said that the proposal for the 20th Amendment by the JVP
is currently on the parliament agenda and it could be presented at any time.

I spoke to the JVP about this three months ago and even a month ago and I urged them to present this proposal. I pointed out that over 90% of the MPs are those who have pledged to support the abolishment of the Executive
Presidency and in the event they do not support it, then they are clearly going against their promise made to the people. I said the people will then take a decision against such groups at the next election.

However, the JVP said that they need an assurance that the government would support it. The JVP said that if they were given a guarantee that the Cabinet will support it then they would present the proposal for the 20th Amendment.

I then notified the President of the JVP stand and told him that this could be taken forward. I notified the Prime Minister too. The September 19th Cabinet meeting was called for this purpose. We even set the time for the Cabinet meeting g after discussing it with the President and Prime Minister.

When the TNA parliamentary group met on Saturday morning, they were all briefed on the situation. Accordingly, the TNA group gave me their approval to carry on my work for the abolishment of the Executive Presidency.

Our stand is that for over 25 years the people have given their mandate to leaders for the abolishment of the Executive Presidency. Hence we should do it at an appropriate time.

Therefore, both the JVP and our TNA group are of the view that we are in favour of this move and expect that the others who pledged to abolish the Executive Presidency would also render their support.

Ironically, though, at the September 19th Cabinet meeting it was clear that some had put forward a wrong notion that this was a conspiracy and it was brought forward with ulterior motives.

Our stand is that the Executive Presidency needs to be abolished, but if anyone feels this is not the right time to do it, then we ask that they make a commitment by having it passed in parliament so that they could support if after the presidential election.

We had the initial step done by presenting it to parliament, and now we ask that the others give an assurance to the people that the second step would be taken to implement it after the presidential election. If at least that cannot be done, then we have doubts whether your policies are genuine.

Hence, if anyone is of the view that there is no time to have this passed prior to the presidential election, we could still have this proposal passed in parliament and implement it later. I am challenging those who claim this is not the right time to abolish the Executive Presidency to prove their commitment.”

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