Colombo, March 16 (newsin.asia): The Joint Opposition (JO) in the Sri Lankan parliament will move a Motion of No Confidence against Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in the coming week, the JO leader and former Lankan President, Mahinda Rajapaksa, told the Foreign Correspondents’ Association here on Thursday.
He said that he is confident of getting the motion passed because a substantial number of MPs belonging to Wickremesinghe’s United National Party (UNP) will either sign the motion, or vote for it when the division is taken.
This will be in addition to the bulk of MPs belonging to the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) headed by Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena.
The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) is, of course, unlikely to back the motion as it is with Wickremesinghe, Rajapaksa said. But other parties in the opposition and the government coalition, could support it.
Rajapaksa said that discussions are on with leaders of various political parties in parliament to get the 113 votes needed to send Prime Minister Wickremesinghe packing.
The former President said that although he thinks that snap elections to parliament is the best solution to the on-going crisis of governance, he would settle for a re-ordered parliament wherein the SLFP forms the government with other parties including the bulk of the UNP without Wickremesinghe.
Rajapaksa said that the JO will support anybody who the SLFP nominates as Prime Minister. But the JO will not join the government. It’s support will be issue based.
Asked if he would work with his arch rival, President Maithripala Sirisena (who had broken away from him to contest the January 8 ,2015 Presidential election and defeated him too), Rajapaksa said that he has no animosity towards Sirisena and that he will work with anyone so long as the SLFP breaks its ties with the UNP and sets up an SLFP-led government.
He said that his support or opposition to any person or government rests on “policy” and not personality.
Rajapaksa said that in the parliamentary elections due in August 2020, his outfit Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) will win, because by then, the bulk of the SLFP and a section of the UNP will have joined it.
According to the former President, the National Unity government led by President Sirisena and Prime Minister Wickremesinghe has failed comprehensively.
There has been no economic progress, and the debt to GDP ratio has increased from 70% when he was in power between 2005 and 2014, to 85% now.
The current government has borrowed much more than his government did but has done little for the development of the country, unlike his regime which executed many development projects of use to his people.
On the cases against members of his family which could have a political impact, Rajapaksa said that the cases are politically motivated, and that is why no court has convicted anyone so far. And the charges are preposterous.
“Government is still searching for a bank account in Dubai where I allegedly have US$ 18 billion. I am also searching for it!,” he added jokingly.
Rajapaksa held the government responsible for the recent anti-Muslim riots in Kandy district which had brought a bad name for Sri Lanka abroad.
Government, led by the Prime Minister himself, had blamed the SLPP. The police too were blamed.But the police would not act unless given strict directions by the government which the latter did not give, he said.
Communal and violent elements, which those in power now blamed for the riots in Aluthgama in 2014 when he was in power, are now with the government, Rajapaksa alleged, hinting that government itself might have been responsible for the riots.
Rajapaksa said that communal discord had been brewing in certain parts of the country for the past year and a half, but the government had not attended to the issues involved.
There was land grabbing in the Eastern Province and some Buddhist temples were attacked, but government turned a blind eye and let matters simmer. A radical monk from Batticaloa has been seen with President Sirisena.
With the government being inactive, the people took the law into their hands when an inflamatory situation arose, Rajapaksa said.
The arrest of 27 innocent persons during the funeral of a Sinhalese lorry driver had incensed the people, leading to arson and mayhem in Kandy district. And people went after the Muslims too as it was a gang of Muslims which had murdered the Sinhalese lorry driver – the incident on February 22, which sparked resentment in the first place.
However, the former President maintained that the communal problem is not insurmountable because in village after village throughout Sri Lanka, Muslims and Sinhalese live side by side peacefully.
He said he himself went to Kandy, got representatives of all communities to gather in a place, and discussed issues with them to bring about an understanding.
Asked if he has any plans to settle the festering ethnic issue and address the question of reconciliation pending since the end of the war in 2009, Rajapaksa said that it was during his rule from 2005 to 2014 that a year war was ended, elections held to the Tamil-speaking Eastern Province, a Provincial Council was set up in the Northern Province, and elections were held to it in 2013.
But the current government has not held elections to the Eastern Province and is planning to postpone elections to Provincial Councils which are due in September this year. Earlier it had postponed the Local Bodies elections by two and half years,Rajapaksa said.
At Odds With International Community
The former President that the present government is in trouble with the international community because it is finding it difficult to implement the resolution which it had jointly sponsored with the US at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in 2015.
Prior to that and also subsequently, no other country had co-sponsored a resolution against itself, he pointed out.
(The featured image at the top is that of Mahinda Rajapaksa former Sri Lankan President and leader of Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna)