President and United National Party (UNP) Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday (20) invited all political parties in Parliament to join hands for the betterment of the country, while thanking the majority in Parliament for electing him as the 8th Executive President of the country.
“I spent 45 years of my life in this Parliament. My life was spent in this Parliament. I thank this Parliament for giving me this honour. In 1993, when former President R. Premadasa was assassinated, we convened to select a new President. That was done so without an election. For the first time, in this second instance, we had an election. On the one hand, we showed that this Parliament can select a new President through a vote. I thank everybody who voted for me, and I also thank everybody who participated in this election,” said Wickremesinghe.
He said that the country is in a deep crisis today, with the economic crisis, and noted that the youth are demanding a system change.
“We need to build a new programme. The people are not asking for old politics, but for the Parliament to get together and work. I invite Alahapperuma to join hands with me. I also invite my friend Dissanayake, as he knows how bad the state of the country is at the moment. I also invite my friend Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) and Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa, the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) led by R. Sampanthan, the Tamil National People’s Front (TNPF) led by Ahila Ilankai Tamil Congress (AITC) MP G.G. Ponnambalam, Tamil Makkal Desiya Kuttani MP C.V. Wigneswaran, SLPP MP and former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, and SLPP ‘independent’ MP, Sri Lanka Freedom Party Chairman, and former President Maithripala Sirisena. We were on separate sides for the last 48 hours, but now I request all of you to join hands and begin discussions from tomorrow itself,” he said.
SLPP MP, Minister, and Leader of the House Dinesh Gunawardena, who proposed Wickremesinghe’s name for the Presidential run on Tuesday (19), despite traditionally hailing from opposing political ideologies, said that he has utmost confidence in Wickremesinghe’s ability to lead Sri Lanka out of the current crisis.
“Wickremesinghe is one of the most senior MPs, a former Premier, and senior Minister. He can fulfil his responsibilities and it was the people’s decision that was stated in Parliament today. As the Government side, we are proud that the governing side as well as the Opposition voted for our candidate. That need not be hidden. I have known you for 70 years, since I was a child. We may have different political ideas, but our humanity is the same, as well as the humanity of our countrymen. Your house got burnt, along with your books, which your father, and Leftist politicians Dr. N.M. Perera, Dr. Colvin R. De Silva, and Philip Gunawardena, took to the Welikada and Bogambara Prisons while being imprisoned during the British colonial times. We believe in impermanence in this country. The world has proven that nothing lasts forever. We must overcome this challenge,” said Gunawardena.
Following a massive islandwide protest on 9 July demanding the resignation of former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the latter resigned on 15 July. Parliament selected the new President through a vote, according to the Constitution, yesterday.