By Niranjala Ariyawansha
The 18 dissident Sri Lanka Freedom Party Ministers, Deputy and State Ministers in the Unity Government, who have said they were considering whether they should remain in, or quit the Government, will within this week take their crucial ‘remain or exit ‘ decision.
One of the dissidents, Minister of Labour and Trade Union Relations John Seneviratne, said they were continuing discussions on whether to quit the Government or not. Asked to comment on media reports of this imminent mass exodus from the Government, Seneviratne added that President Maithripala Sirisena had asked the 18 dissidents to stay on until the end of this year.
“We joined the Government trusting in the Party Chairman who is also the President of Sri Lanka. We will have to consider his appeal to stay on until 31 December. However, I cannot decide on my own. We have to arrive at a common decision,” Seneviratne explained.
He added that they would not however impose conditions on the President for their continued support. He said the main reason for their wanting to quit is the Government has failed to deliver even a tenth of the development achieved by the previous regime.
“The Government is not creating a conducive atmosphere for the SLFP Ministers to deliver anything to their people. We expected to serve the people by joining the Government. In addition, there was the possibility of political chaos emerging from the fact of no single political party being able to harness the majority needed to form a stable government at the 2015 General Election. That was the other reason why we joined the Government: to form a stable Government. But we were not given an opportunity to serve the people even after the threat of that instability had passed with the formation of the Unity Government” he added.
Lands Minister T.B. Ekanayake also confirmed that the discussions were underway to decide on whether to quit the Government or not and about conditions to be placed before President Sirisena to facilitate their remaining in the Government. He said their decision will be announced within a week.
General Secretary of the United People’s Freedom Alliance, Minister Mahinda Amaraweera however said that although a couple of Ministers had expressed strong desires to quit the Government, that would not happen.