By Nuwan Senarathna
Indicating no change in his stance, President Maithripala Sirisena yesterday said he would only make a decision after observing the proceedings of the Supreme Court on the Interim Order issued by the Court of Appeal today, according to the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) parliamentarians.
The Appeal filed against the Interim Order issued by the Court of Appeal, restraining MP Mahinda Rajapaksa from holding the office of Prime Minister and his Cabinet from functioning, has been fixed for support today by the Supreme Court.
On 3 December, the Court of Appeal issued an Interim Order restraining Rajapaksa and his Cabinet from functioning until the hearing of the Writ of Quo Warranto filed against them is concluded. However, on the following day, an appeal was filed with the Supreme Court against the Interim Order. The Appeal was filed by attorneys on behalf of Rajapaksa.
President Sirisena and UPFA MPs met at the Presidential Secretariat, hours after the Supreme Court announced that President Sirisena cannot dissolve Parliament until four and a half years are completed.
Speaking to Daily FT, MP Rohitha Abeygunawardena said that President Sirisena had insisted he was not ready to govern the country with United National Party (UNP) leader MP Ranil Wickremesinghe. “President Maithripala Sirisena said he would not govern the country with Ranil Wickremesinghe under any circumstances.”
According to Abeygunawardena, during the meeting, MP Mahinda Rajapaksa stated he was ready to take a step back and move to the Opposition. “MP Mahinda Rajapaksa emphasised that he is ready to go back to the Opposition and allow the UNP and its supporters to continue.”
His statements were also echoed by MP Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena, who said President Sirisena would wait to see if the Supreme Court provides any relief regarding the Court of Appeal’s Interim Order on the Writ of Quo Warranto.
However, Abeygunawardena said President Sirisena had disagreed and said he would not “take a step back” and make an agreement with the UNP under any circumstances. “During the discussion, some suggested we go back to the Opposition, but President Sirisena informed us he would take a decision only after the Supreme Court decision on the Court of Appeal’s Interim Order.”
Meanwhile, MP Udaya Gammanpila acknowledged that: “Considering the current situation, the UPFA may have to step down soon. This would enable MP Ranil Wickremesinghe the rare opportunity to become Prime Minister for the fifth time.”