By Saman Indrajith and Rathindra Kuruwita
President Maithripala Sirisena, yesterday, accepted the resignation letters tendered by 15 SLFP ministers, including six Cabinet members, and the Deputy Speaker, who voted for the no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe last week. Their resignations would take effect from midnight yesterday, former State Minister of Public Enterprise Development Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena said.
The UNP called for the resignation of the SLFP ministers who had turned against their leader and PM. Co-Cabinet Spokesman Dr. Rajitha Senaratne told the media yesterday that a new Cabinet would be appointed shortly without the SLFP ministers who had voted against the PM.
SLFP sources said President Sirisena had come under heavy pressure from the UNP as well as the well-wishers of the yahapalana government to allow the SLFP ministers to resign so that the ruling coalition could continue.
SLFP Ministers Susil Premajayantha, Dayasiri Jayasekara, Dilan Perera, John Seneviratne, Lakshman Wasantha Perera, Dr Sudarshani Fernandopulle, Tharanath Basnayake, Susantha Punchinilame, Anura Yapa, S B Dissanayake, Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena, Chandima Weerakkody, Anuradha Jayaratne, T. B. Ekanayake and Sumedha Jayasena Deputy Speaker Thilanga Sumathipala voted for the no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Wickremesinghe for his alleged involvement in treasury bond scams and failure to act promptly to contain ethnic violence in Ampara and Kandy.
Abeywardena said that the President had informed the ministers that he would accept their resignation letters, at a meeting they had with him last night.
The 16 SLFPers would sit in the Opposition and continue to support President Sirisena, Abeywardena said.
Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa told this newspaper on Monday that the 16 SLFP dissidents who had voted for the motion of no confidence against the PM would join the Joint Opposition after the Sinhala and Tamil New Year.
Sources told The Island last night that President Sirisena was scheduled to go abroad on April 15 and the SLFP Central Committee would meet after his return to decide whether the remaining SLFP ministers who abstained from voting last week would remain in the government.