Colombo, February 15 (newsinasia): The United National Party (UNP), which is one of the two principal partners in Sri Lanka’s National Unity Government (UNG), said on Thursday, that it will stay put in the coalition instead of parting ways with the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) following the poor showing of the two governmental parties in the all-island local bodies’ elections on February 10.
UNP’s General Secretary, Kabir Hashim, is quoted in the local media as saying that the party’s parliamentary group met and decided to continue in the government.
Apparantly, the UNP has given up its plans to form a government of its own with defectors from other parties.
But the UNP would make some changes in its party structure and its representation in the council of ministers to tone up its image which had jaded resulting in the party’s defeat in the local elections which turned out to be a referendum of the national government.
It is reported that Law and Order Minister Sagala Ratnayake has offered to resign, apparently in response to criticism over the slow place of the investigations in corruption cases against opposition stalwart and former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his cohorts.
The LKR 11.4 billion Central Bank bond scam and the murder of rugger player Thajuddin are among cases yet to be investigated properly and the culprits brought to book.
The Sri Lankan economy is languishing with big ticket projects put on the hold because of a mixture of inertia and political differences. Decisions are taken without consultation with all political stakeholders only to be withdrawn later under political pressure.
The UNP is apparently wanting to look into all lacunae in its administration in the last three years ,which had led to its coming a poor second in the recent elections.
Meanwhile, the SLFP is keeping up its hype about forming a government of its own with supporters from the Joint Opposition led by former President and Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) leader Mahinda Rajapaksa.
But this appears to be a pipe dream given the fact that their combined strength in parliament is only 95 MPs while the UNP has 106. While the UNP needs only seven more MPs to get a simple majority, the SLFP has to get much more to get a simple majority of 113.
Further, there is no guarantee that the SLPP will support the SLFP led by Sirisena as SLPP leaders are blowing hot and cold. They are creating confusion in the opposite camp. At any rate SLPP is a direct rival of the SLFP and there is no way it will help keep SLFP in power till August 2020 when the next parliamentary polls are due.
President Sirisena is to address the local media at 8.30 am on Friday to communicate his views/decisions on issues confronting the coalition partners. By then he would have read the recommendations of the bipartisan committee which was set up to go into the pros and cons of various options and report.
(The featured image at the top shows the General Secretary of the UNP, Kabir Hashim)