Following queries made by Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) Parliamentarians, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has stated yesterday (28) that he has not asked Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa to resign, and neither does he have any intention of doing so, The Morning learnt.
This had been communicated by the President to the SLPP MPs during a meeting held yesterday in the presence of the PM, sources within the Government told The Morning.
At the meeting, several SLPP backbenchers, along with some senior MPs, had inquired from the President as to his stance on the Premiership and whether he plans to request Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa to resign to pave the way for an all-party interim government.
The President had said that he has not made such a request so far, and does not intend to do so in the future either.
However, the President had then been asked for clarity on his statement that he is, in principle, willing to form an all-party government with the political parties representing the Parliament, following the resignation of the Prime Minister and the Cabinet of Ministers.
To this, the President had said that any MP who can command the majority in Parliament can form a government. However, in a possible reference to those who have chosen to be independent in Parliament, he added that instead of claiming in public that one could muster the majority in Parliament, one should show that majority in Parliament.
The assurances made by the President to SLPP members follow two seemingly contradictory statements on Wednesday (27), when the President said that he was, in principle, willing to form an all-party government with the political parties representing the Parliament, following the resignation of the Prime Minister and the Cabinet of Ministers, while Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa said President Gotabaya Rajapaksa had never asked him to resign from his position and believes the President would never make such a request.
The President conveyed his stance on an all-party government in a letter directed to all political party leaders in the ruling faction, as well as the leaders of political parties that represented the Government after the 2020 General Election and currently sit independently in the House.
The structure, tenure, and portfolios of this all-party government, which are to be established after the resignation of the Prime Minister and the Cabinet of Ministers, need to be agreed upon following discussions, the President said in the letter.
As the first step for this purpose, the President has called a meeting tomorrow (29) at 10.30 a.m. at the President’s House in Colombo 1 with the participation of the recipients of the letter.
The President had added in his letter that the venerable Chief Prelates of the Three Chapters, Archbishop of Colombo His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, and other religious leaders, political parties, and various organisations have appealed to him to form an all-party government representative of each political party in Parliament, as a solution to the present social and economic crisis.
However, during a meeting with the chairpersons, mayors, and members of local government institutions yesterday, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa said President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has never asked him to resign from his position, and also expressed confidence that the President would not ask him to resign at any point.
“I have to tell you that the President has, at no stage, asked me to resign, and I am confident that he would not ask me to resign at any stage in future either,” he said, to applause from the audience.
He also said that he is not willing to resign, as it would be detrimental to Sri Lanka.
“Anyone can make allegations, but those allegations need to be proven. We cannot turn our back on the Constitution and leave, and allow the country to descend into a state of anarchy,” he said.
These remarks by the President and Prime Minister came yesterday amidst growing agitations against the incumbent Government, with protesters calling for the resignation of the President, the Premier, and the Cabinet of Ministers.
PM Rajapaksa also told the local government authorities that the Government would rebuild the country, even with foreign aid.
Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa on Tuesday (26) also emphasised that he does not intend to step down from his position, and that he has taken measures to resolve the present crisis within a matter of days.
“Don’t worry about the current crisis, it will be resolved in the days ahead, and I will not be stepping down from my position,” the Prime Minister said during a meeting with the Provincial Council Members’ Forum, which also included several ministers.