SLPP’s Dullas and NPP invited to take up suitable posts
BY P. Waravita and Buddhika SamaraweeraA vote for the next President will take place in Parliament on 20 July, while the country’s main Parliamentary Opposition, the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB), hopes to nominate its Leader Sajith Premadasa for the position. In a statement issued following the party leaders’ meeting held yesterday (11), the office of the Speaker of the House announced that following the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa tomorrow (13), Parliament will convene on 15 July, when the nomination period will be announced. On 19 July, nominations will be called and submitted, and the election will take place on 20 July. “The Parliament Secretary General was at the meeting to explain the procedure after the President resigns. The relevant dates were told to us. The SJB has decided that SJB and Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa will be nominated for the post of President,” SJB General Secretary MP Ranjith Madduma Bandara told The Morning. Meanwhile, alleging that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, and the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP)-led Government have destroyed the country, Opposition and Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) Leader Sajith Premadasa said that the SJB is ready to appoint a new President and Premier and rebuild the country.In a statement made to the media yesterday (11), he said: “The mandate of the President, the Premier, and the SLPP is no longer valid. They have come together and destroyed the country. That is why we, the main Opposition in Parliament, are ready to lead a programme that will stabilise the country and rebuild the country’s economy.”He further stated that they would be working to appoint a new President and a Government headed by a new Premier. He said that there is no other option, and that if anyone in Parliament would be trying to sabotage such a programme, the SJB would view it as an unpatriotic act.Addressing a media briefing held yesterday, SJB Member Ajith P. Perera said that Premadasa is a leader who received 5.5 million votes in the last Presidential Election, and is also the alternative and suitable leader in the country, if Rajapaksa leaves his position. “People’s hearts might have another leader at the moment, but there is a Constitutional process that should take place in the Parliament right now. As a policy, we support immediate Presidential and General Elections, if possible. But, according to the Constitution, right now the Parliament cannot be dissolved and a Presidential Election cannot be held either. Thus, the Parliament must decide on a President now,” he said. Speaking further, Perera said that Premadasa is taking a political risk at the moment by accepting this responsibility, and that he does so with the hope that an all-party, interim Government will be formed in the short term, with the agreement of the other party leaders. “Once Constitutional reforms are brought in and as soon as the suitable time comes, let us go for an election and allow the people to choose their leader. We also invite Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) MP Dullas Alahapperuma to be a part of this process and to take his suitable position.”Speaking to the media, Madduma Bandara further noted that the SLPP is “divided into factions now” and that they have lost the democratic mandate they gained in 2020. Meanwhile, the SJB, on Sunday (10), held discussions with several political parties regarding the establishment of an all-party Government. Premadasa, Sri Lanka Muslim Congress Leader and SJB MP Rauff Hakeem, Tamil Progressive Alliance Leader and SJB MP Mano Ganesan, and All-Ceylon Makkal Congress Leader and SJB MP Rishad Bathiudeen were among the participants in the said meeting. In addition, another meeting was held between the SJB and some other political parties including the National Freedom Front (NFF) led by SLPP-elected “independent” MP Wimal Weerawansa at the private residence of SJB MP Thalatha Athukorale in Colombo.Meanwhile, National People’s Power (NPP) Leader and MP Anura Kumara Dissanayake, speaking to the media prior to the meeting yesterday, reiterated that Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe must resign. “It is best to have a General Election to understand what the public wants and that should take place as soon as possible,” he said. Madduma Bandara further said that the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) led NPP must join the all-party Government. Releasing a statement last evening, Tamil Progressive Alliance (TPA) Leader and SJB MP Mano Ganesan said that the TPA will participate in the intended interim, all-party Government. “In the issue of the election of a new President, we will go by the common consensus between the parties who agree to form the interim, all-party administration. This interim administration shall function for the shortest possible period of time until an election is held to seek a new mandate. We anticipate an election by the end of the year,” said Ganesan. He further said that although those protesting who had “forced the Rajapaksa Government to flee” cannot take part in the voting for a new President inside Parliament, the Speaker and the parties will take efforts to conduct discussions with them to understand their views too.SLPP Chief Organiser Prasanna Ranatunga, in a statement made following yesterday’s meeting, said that he had informed the party leaders that discussions must take place with representatives from the people’s struggle, or “aragalaya”. “All party leaders agreed to this proposal and 25 leaders who have been identified from the struggle will engage in discussions in the presence of the Speaker today (12),” the statement said.A Cabinet of Ministers meeting was held yesterday morning, following which Wickremesinghe announced that the Cabinet has agreed to hand over their responsibilities as soon as an interim Government is announced. Ranatunga's statement said that the same meeting had decided that Wickremesinghe will also resign with the Cabinet once steps to form an interim Government are taken.