By Ashwin Hemmathagama
Reasserting his majority in Parliament, UNP leader MP Ranil Wickremesinghe won the Vote of Confidence yesterday in Parliament, receiving 117 votes with the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) declining to participate.
The motion showed MP Wickremesinghe commands the confidence of Parliament to function as the Prime Minister. UPFA lawmakers continued to boycott the Parliament, and no votes were received against the motion. Speaker Karu Jayasuriya later in the day informed the results of the vote to President Maithripala Sirisena.
MP Wickremesinghe, thanking fellow lawmakers for placing their trust upon him to be the Prime Minister, cited a famous quote from US President Abraham Lincoln’s famous Gettysburg address to honour the soldiers who sacrificed their lives for the cause of democracy, stating that the initiative taken against the constitutional crisis is for a ‘Government of the people, by the people, for the people.’
“People should elect a Government and the Prime Minister should be elected out of that Government. It is not a Government the President establishes. That is the difference. We all follow that principle, which is in our Constitution. We accept the rule of law. Regardless of our political differences we all should abide by the Constitution. Some of those who supported Mahinda Rajapaksa held the Constitution should not be violated. That is what led to us seek help from the Judiciary in order to establish democracy and the authority of Parliament. We appreciate the stand the Speaker took in this task,” said MP Wickremesinghe in a visibly jubilant mood.
Marking the benefits of the changes the coalition Government that existed before 26 October brought in, MP Wickremesinghe held that little achievements have come a long way to establish democracy. “When we came into power in 2015, we were able to pass the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, which increased the authority of the Parliament and reduced the powers of the Executive President, strengthened the independence of the Judiciary, and established independent Commissions. Even the people can come forward to establish democracy, simply because of the change we brought in. No longer do you need to fear,” he added.
However, accepting the pitfalls which became issues later on, MP Wickremesinghe acknowledged his Government was not able to deliver all what was promised, due to internal rifts between the two political parties.
Pledging to the nation that he will continue to deliver a better Sri Lanka, making use of the trust placed upon him, MP Wickremesinghe also held that people in the North will not be forgotten. “It is true that we had issues as a Government. We were able to deliver some promises and failed in some. Our speed was not as expected. However, we managed to take action to settle debt, face natural disasters, and tough times. It is true that people had to suffer. However, we were able to allocate more for health, education and housing sectors for the first time since independence. We were at the verge of reaping benefits. But there are setbacks. We will continue with what we started and to bring in a systematic relief along with development. We will continue to provide solutions for the people in the North,” explained MP Wickremesinghe.
MP Wickremesinghe insisted he will not let go of the attempts to bring in the new Constitution, to solve issues within the framework of an undivided nation, with a political solution acceptable to all ethnicities in the country.