Colombo, December 13 (newsin.asia): Still nursing a deep anger against former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena told his United Peoples’ Freedom Alliance (UPFA) on Thursday that if Wickremesinghe has to be re-appointed as Prime Minister following the Supreme Court verdict earlier in the day, he will not participate in the decision making process of the government but will perform his duties as an Executive President of the country as per the constitution.
According to Shiral Lakthilaka, a top advisor to the President, this means that Sirisena will continue to conduct cabinet meetings as the Head of the Government, but will not participate in its decision-making process. He will, however, continue to exercise his powers as the constitutional Executive President, Head of Government and Head of State.
Given the nature of the Sri Lankan constitution which endows the Executive President with vast and decisive powers, an Executive President can put spokes in the wheel of the cabinet.
According to UPFA MP, Udaya Gammanpilla, the President could take over any ministry and department under his purview as President Chandrika Kumaratunga did in November 2003 when she took over from the Ranil Wickremesinghe government Defense, Interior, and Information ministries. This crippled the Wickremesinghe government and led to the premature dissolution of parliament in February 2004.
Although the President cannot challenge the decisions of the cabinet, he can go public about his opposition. He could also stop certain key appointments.
However, the Prime Minister, who commands a majority in parliament, can get parliament to deny funds to the President because it is parliament which holds the purse strings of the government, Gammanpilla explained.
But if Wickremesinghe’s United National Front (UNF) comes up with an alternative to Wickremesinghe for the post of Prime Minister, such as Sajith Premadasa (the amiable Deputy Leader of the United National Party), Sirisena will fully participate in decision making in the cabinet as its head, and the government will run smoothly, Shiral Lakthilaka said.
Therefore, the controversy over the re-appointment of Wickremesinghe will remain to destabilize the Sri Lankan government, unless the UNF climbs down and puts forward Sajith Premadasa as an alternative to Wickremesinghe.
But the million dollar question is: Will the UNF climb down after the Supreme Court had given its political prospects a shot in the arm by declaring as unconstitutional, the dissolution of parliament and the ordering of fresh elections by President Sirisena?
Would the UNF discard Wickremesinghe after backing him in the Confident Vote on Wednesday which showed that he had 117 MPs out of the total of 225 backing him?
And the confidence vote was moved by none other than Sajith Premadasa.
Sajith had declared times without number, that he is committed to backing Wickremesinghe to the hilt, unless his party, as a whole, wants him to take it over.