BY Buddhika SamaraweeraEmphasising that the National Council should have been constituted before the appointment of the Prime Minister and the Cabinet of Ministers, the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) stated that it has decided not to join the said council.Speaking at a media briefing held yesterday (28), SLFP Chairman, former President, and incumbent MP Maithripala Sirisena said that President Ranil Wickremesinghe also wanted to form an all-party Government, and that under such a programme, the first task should have been to appoint the National Council, and subsequently, the Premier and Cabinet. “The said council should have been established first. After establishing that, the President should have discussed with the National Council and appointed a suitable MP as Premier. Then, the President, the Premier, and the National Council should have discussed and appointed a Cabinet of less than 20 ministers who are not charged with corruption,” he said. From the beginning of the discussions with regard to an all-party Government, Sirisena said that the SLFP had pointed out to both former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and incumbent President Wickremesinghe that all the positions should be given to those who have not been linked to charges of corruption. He said that the SLFP has informed the two presidents that a programme must be implemented to curb the high level of corruption among politicians, Government officials, corporations and statutory bodies.“However, in the end, something happened that we did not expect. First, the Premier was appointed and many ministers were appointed after that. According to the information that we have, the appointment of ministers is not over yet. Next, the establishment of the National Council was proposed and passed in Parliament. Therefore, we have decided not to join it. The best chance to save the country was to form an all-party Government, but we know that the leaders of the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna in Parliament opposed that programme,” Sirisena further added. On 23 September, Speaker of Parliament Mahinda Yapa Abeywardana announced to Parliament the list of MPs who have been nominated for the National Council, which was established as per the proposal of Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena. The National Council consists of members representing Parliament from the respective political parties. The inaugural meeting of the National Council is scheduled to be held today (29) under the patronage of the Speaker.The Speaker of Parliament will serve as Chairman of the National Council, while its other members include Premier Gunawardena, Leader of the House Susil Premajayantha, Opposition and Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) Leader Sajith Premadasa, Chief Government Whip Prasanna Ranatunga, Chief Opposition Whip Lakshman Kiriella, Ministers Douglas Devananda, Naseer Ahamed, and Tiran Alles, State Ministers Sisira Jayakody, and Sivanesathurai Santhirakanthan, and MPs Johnston Fernando, Rauff Hakeem, Pavithradevi Wanniarachchi, Wajira Abeywardana, A.L.M. Athaullah, Prof. Tissa Vitarana, Rishad Bathiudeen, Wimal Weerawansa, Vasudeva Nanayakkara, Palani Digambaram, Mano Ganesan, Udaya Gammanpila, Rohitha Abeygunawardana, Namal Rajapaksa, Jeevan Thondaman, G.G. Ponnambalam, Ven. Athuraliye Rathana Thera, Asanka Navarathna, Ali Sabri Raheem, C.V. Wigneswaran, Weerasumana Weerasinghe, and Sagara Kariyawasam.