A sudden hush-hush meeting between ousted Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe and former Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa at Temple Trees on Thursday was the cause of wild speculation, but officials said the discussion was aimed at a peaceful resolution to the constitutional deadlock.
Spokesman for the former Defence Secretary Milinda Rajapaksha said that the meeting had lasted seven minutes, from 4.10 p.m. to 4.17 p.m., and discussions were centred on measures to be taken to prevent “chaos” in the wake of the island’s roiling political crisis.
In a Facebook clarification about the meeting, the Spokesman said the former Defence Secretary had gone to Temple Trees on Wickremesinghe’s invitation.
“The meeting took place yesterday between 4.10-4.17 p.m. It was a closed door discussion and no other parties were present,” the clarification noted.
The UNP confirmed the meeting and vehemently denied claims made yesterday that Rajapaksa had gone to Temple Trees to offer Wickremesinghe a “graceful exit”. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said that he appreciated the exchange of views with the former Secretary of Defence Gotabhaya Rajapaksa. They both agreed on the need to avoid violence in the country, UNP sources said.
Wickremesinghe had mentioned that this is a matter for Parliament to resolve. Wickremesinghe has further said that he has the support of the people to protect Parliamentary democracy and is prepared to go beyond Parliament to the people to prove it, sources added. “The Prime Minister is not leaving Temple Trees,” UNP Lawmaker Ajith P. Perera clarified in a Facebook post on Thursday night as the report emerged.
Milinda Rajapaksha, meanwhile, said that at the meeting, the pair had discussed measures to be taken to avoid any chaos and negative perceptions from the international community that could unexpectedly erupt in the face of the prevailing volatile situation.
Rajapaksa had mentioned that the President and the Prime Minister have garnered the confidence and support of the majority in Parliament. Wickremesinghe has in turn expressed that he, too, was confident of the support of the people to protect the democracy and supremacy of the Parliament and he is ready to prove it, the statement said.