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Bid to introduce new Constitution suffers irrevocable setback - SLPP
Published Date: 12/02/2018 (Monday)

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna Chairman and top Joint Opposition spokesman Prof. G.L. Peiris yesterday said that in the wake of the heavy defeat suffered by the ruling coalition at the first countrywide election since 2015 presidential and parliamentary polls, the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe regime could no longer rush through with the controversial constitution making process as planned.

The former External Affairs Minister said the government lacked the wherewithal to sustain that grandiose project. The SLPP Chairman said so in response to a query by The Island at a media conference at Battaramulla Nelum Mawatha Office of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Asked whether the JO parliamentary group would quit 21-member Steering Committee headed by PM Ranil Wickremesinghe as demanded by National Freedom Front (NFF) leader Wimal Weerawansa last year, MP Alahapperuma said the government couldn’t continue with the project in accordance with 2015 mandate.

Colombo District MP and JO parliamentary group leader Dinesh Gunawardena and Gampaha District MP Prasanna Ranatunga represent the JO in the Steering Committee spearheading the constitution making process.

Prof. Peiris said the people had rejected yahapalana foreign as well as economic policies. Turning towards MP Gunawardena, the former law professor said that the JO leader in parliament had explained their stand on a new Constitution in a 14 point communique issued some time ago.

MP Udaya Gammanpila said the government could no longer pursue constitutional reforms meant to introduce what Pivithuru Hela Urumaya leader called a constitution with federal features.

Gammanpila said the change in the political environment, the Geneva run project to introduce ‘federal’ constitution, the proposed Economic and Technology Cooperation Agreement (ETCA) with India, meant to give New Delhi unrestricted access to Sri Lanka market and privatization of the state sector enterprises had suffered irrevocable setback. The PHU leader said that those who had been pursuing strategies at the behest of Western powers for financial gain should comprehend the post-Feb. 10 poll ground situation. Gammanpila chided the NGO community over their predicament while warning President Sirisena and Premier Wickremesinghe that they no longer deserved to hold office. Comparing the mandate received by yahapalana rulers in 2015 and the LG polls result, Gammanpila pointed out that the SLPP had comfortably secured 16 electoral districts and of them six were taken without conceding a single local body to coalition partners.

Gammanpila said President Sirisena had invited UNP leader Wickremesinghe to form a new government in the wake of Rajapaksa’s defeat at the presidential election in Jan. 2015 though he commanded only 46 members of parliament (including himself). "We now have 54 members in parliament," Gammanpila reminded the government. The MP pointed out that the electorate had overwhelmingly voted for SLPP knowing very well it was local government election.

Communist Party representative Raja Collure said the leadership of President Sirisena as well as the Premier were certainly under threat in the wake of shocking drubbing they had received in the hands of an irate electorate. The veteran politician said the government had acted in a dictatorial manner and tried to pursue projects regardless of strong opposition.

Having delayed local government polls by over two years, the government put off elections to three provincial councils, imposed VAT and handed over Hambantota port to China on a 99-year lease much to the anger of the people, Collure said, adding Feb. 10 outcome reflected the public resentment of yahapalana policies.

Former Central Bank Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal explained how treasury bond scam involving Perpetual Treasuries Limited (PTL) had caused the government’s downfall. Accusing the government of trying to cover up bond scams, Cabraal insisted that yahapalana leaders wouldn’t punish those responsible.

Responding to media queries, Alahapperuma indicated that they were not really interested in reaching an understanding or an agreement with President Sirisena in the wake of their electoral victory. Weerawansa said that SLPP could form an administration in about 70 per cent of the councils on their own and they weren’t pushing for an agreement with anyone.

Alahapperuma also indicated they weren’t in a hurry to accept those members of parliament wanting to switch sides.

Source: The Island

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