By Akitha Perera
The UNP yesterday resolved to appoint a committee to decide whether Buddha Sasana and Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe should be allowed to remain in the Cabinet or not.
The decision had been taken at a combined meeting of the UNP Working Committee (WC) and parliamentary group at Sirikotha with its leader Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe presiding, party Spokesman Education Minister Akila Viraj Kariyawasam told The Island.
Minister Rajapakshe came under heavy fire from the ministers and other MPs over comments the latter had allegedly made on the controversial Hambantota port deal.
Minister Kariyawasam said Prime Minister Wickremesinghe would soon appoint the committee.
Yesterday’s combined meeting was an extraordinary one. It was held to discuss the Justice Minister’s failure to take action against the members of the previous government accused of corruption and various other malpractices.
Deputy Minister Ajith Perera found fault with the Justice Minister and law enforcement agencies for delays on their part to act against the members of former government. Gamini Jayawickrema Perera, Harin Fernando, Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka, Naveen Dissanayake, Ashok Abeysinghe, Nalin Bandara, Ranjan Ramanayake, Ruwan Wijewardene, Chandima Gamage and Ravindra Samaraweera also criticised Minister Rajapakshe’s failure to act.
Former Foreign Minister Ravi Karunanayake, too, demanded that the ‘thieves of former government’ be caught and brought before justice.
Many Ministers and MPs called for the immediate resignation of Minister Rajapakshe.
Justice Minister Rajapakshe said that there were procedures and regulations to be followed and he was not in a position to expedite legal action arbitrarily.
Fielding questions raised by Ministers and MPs on a statement he had allegedly made on Hambantota port, Minister Rajapakshe said that he had never called for the reacquisition of the Hambantota port.
Deputy Minister Harsha de Silva said Minister Rajapakshe had denied making any comments against the Hambantota port deal. “He says he never said he would not look back until the Hambantota deal was reversed,” de Silva said in a tweet.
Prime Minister Wickremesinghe decided to have a one-on-one meeting with Minister Rajapakshe.
Considering the demands of Ministers and MPs that Minister Rajapakshe should resign, an agreement was reached that the party leader would appoint a special committee to make a final decision.
Minister Kariyawasam said the MPs and Ministers had decided that they needed to discuss with Attorney General how the process of taking action against those charged with corruption could be expedited.