In a day of dramatic political developments President Gotabaya Rajapaksa met with UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe last night amidst speculation that the latter would be appointed as the country’s new Prime Minister.
Speculation was Wickremesinghe will be sworn in today by the President after which the UNP Leader will firm up support from like-minded MPs. A new Cabinet comprising MPs from multiple parties is expected to be finalised by the President and new Prime Minister.
Wickremesinghe held a lengthy discussion with the President where he was assured of support from the SLPP MPs by the President while a breakaway group from the SJB numbering around 20 too are likely to support him.
The talks with Wickremesinghe came a day after Rajapaksa had a dialogue with SJB leader Sajith Premadasa on forming a Government.
SJB MP Harin Fernando who also met the President yesterday announced he would sit as an independent MP in Parliament and voiced his frustration that no decisive action has been taken by the main Opposition party to deal with the country’s situation.
He also said he would play a role in an interim Government so he could do his part in helping the country overcome the economic crisis.
The SJB also softened their stance yesterday backtracking from its previous demand for the immediate resignation of the president as a pre-condition for them forming a new Government saying its Leader Sajith Premadasa will take over as PM provided the President resigns within a stipulated time period.
The SJB also had three other conditions which include, an undertaking from the President that he will not interfere or influence the new Government, the Executive Presidency will be abolished as soon as possible with all parties supporting this move and or a general election to be held as soon as economic stability is reached.
The SLPP dissident group led by former President Maithripala Sirisena and Wimal Weerawansa who are not in favour of Wickremesinghe taking over as Prime Minister yesterday sent a letter to the President with three of their nominees to be considered for the post of PM. They are Nimal Siripala de Silva, Wijeyadasa Rajapaksha and Dullas Allahaperuma.
The JVP led National People’s Party (NPP) also joined the fray by announcing its short-term proposals to end the current crisis and bring about political stability which requires the President to step down immediately and for Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena to act as President.
The NPP proposal says it will agree to an interim Government for a short time period while sitting in Opposition and calls for elections to be held within six months.
The President in a televised address to the nation last night said he will appoint the new Prime Minister and Cabinet this week.