By Saman Indrajith
The UNP has decided to form a United National Front (UNF) government ending the coalition with the SLFP Maithri faction, party sources say.
The decision to form a UNF government was taken following discussions between President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe at the President’s official residence at Pajet Road in Colombo 07 on Sunday night, according to sources.
Speaker Karu Jayasuriya was also present at the talks between the President and the Prime Minister.
Prime Minister Wickremesinghe informed the President that he had been asked by UNP and its allies to form its own government if there was no practical means to continue with the national unity government with the SLFP (Maithri faction).
In response to the Prime Minister’s statement, the President told him to prove that the UNF could muster a majority in Parliament and if so it could form a government of its own.
Following the meeting with the President, Prime Minister Wickremesinghe met UNF’s coalition members and representatives of other parties represented in Parliament on the same evening and decided to form a UNF government without the SLFP.
Sources said as per the provisions of the Section 43 (3) of the Constitution an MP who commands the trust of majority of MPs in Parliament should be appointed Prime Minister by the President.
“Even if we leave out MP Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, we have 107 seats in Parliament including those of the SLMC. We need only six more to prove Parliament majority,” a senior UNP MP said.
He said that during the Sunday meeting, the President had told the Prime Minister the SLFP MPs who were not willing to join the SLPP would join the UNF government within the next two days.
UNP MP Nalin Bandara said their party would submit a list of names of MPs who were willing to form the UNF government to the President on Thursday evening and the list would prove the UNF’s majority in the House.
The portfolios of the SLFP ministers joining the UNF government would not change as per an agreement between the President and the Prime Minister. However, the two leaders have agreed to effect a change with regard to the Foreign Minister post which was now under the UNP, sources said.
The TNA had expressed its willingness to support the UNF government but would not accept any ministerial portfolios, its parliament group leader R Sampanthan said.