President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said yesterday that his first choice for the post of Prime Minister was SJB leader Sajith Premadasa but as he had rejected the offer to take over the Government, he had decided to appoint UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe.
The President disclosed this in a letter he sent Premadasa yesterday in response to the letter sent to him by the SJB leader saying is willing to take over as Prime Minister subject to four conditions.
The President said that after the Cabinet decided to resign on 6 May after taking into consideration the calls for setting up an all-party interim Government to stabilise the country’s economy and solve the economic problems faced by the people, he had contacted Premadasa requesting him to take over the Government, but this had been rejected.
He thereafter held talks with members of the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) and its alliance Samagi Jana Bala Sandanaya and awaited a response to the offer.
“Even when the former Prime Minister resigned from his post on 9 May, there was no response from you and hence I held talks with leaders of other political parties in Parliament as there was the urgent need to set up an interim Government to deal with the economic situation,” the President said in the letter.
He said the Opposition Leader had held a press conference on 10 May and said categorically that he will not accept any responsibility of an interim Government under a Rajapaksa presidency
It was under these circumstances, the President said, he had initiated talks with party leaders and decided that given the challenges facing the country, the best person to take over as the Prime Minister is UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe who is an experienced politician and has held the post several times.