By Dharisha Bastians
Premier designate Ranil Wickremesinghe issued a rallying call for political consensus and an end to the politics of division and partisanship, in his first address since winning Monday’s crucial Parliamentary poll.
With the stage set to resemble presidential addresses in the White House rose garden, Wickremesinghe addressed the media for the first time since his party claimed victory in the election on the lawn of his official residence Temple Trees.
His wife Maithree Wickremesinghe stood beside him during the address. He invited all parties in Parliament to help him to build a coalition and hailed the beginning of what he called a ‘new chapter in Sri Lankan politics’.
“I want everyone to come together now. Think of the country. Think of the people. We can achieve unity, progress in this development in this country even for two to three years,” he urged.
Wickremesinghe said he would take oaths as Prime Minister and said he had already held discussions with President Maithripala Sirisena about the need to take the 8 January revolution and the culture of good governance forward.
“Together with the President and all party leaders, we look forward to a new era of politics and Government in this country,” he said.
The Prime Minister designate told reporters that his first priority was to have a cabinet of ministers sworn in and for Parliament to accept his policy statement. He was already in talks with the President to build a coalition, after the UNP won 106 seats in the 225 member House, just seven seats short of a simple majority.
Wickremesinghe said his Government would take a ‘Lichchavi’ approach’ to governance, which requires all parties to work together.
“They can do this either in Government, holding ministerial positions, or in Parliament through the oversight committees,” Wickremesinghe explained.
Wickremesinghe said his Government would seek Parliament’s endorsement of the UNP’s 60-month plan for the country, which the people endorsed on 17 August.
“We must build a consensus on our national policy. I have got a mandate to put before Parliament our plan so that we could arrive at a consensus and build a national framework, within which we will do our politics,” he added.
Wickremesinghe said the people had indicated their preference. “Let’s work together. I don’t think anyone can opt out or go back to divisive politics – we will not allow that,” he said.