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Executive Presidency-Cabinet to appoint

a committee
2015-11-19

Follo
wed by his avowal at the
funeral of Ven. Maduluwave
Sobhitha Thera to abolish
the Executive Presidency,
President Maitripala
Sirisena initiated action at
yesterdays Cabinet
meeting by seeking to
pursue his intentions.
The
Cabinet decided to appoint
a committee comprising
party leaders to study the
proposal to abolish the
Executive Presidency and to
introduce a new electoral
system. In the aftermath of
the Presidents
announcement in this
respect at an event on
Tuesday, interpretations
were made in political
circles about the final
intention of the President.
Is it a move for him to
contest the next
parliamentary election as
the prime ministerial
candidate of the party? Or
is it his genuine desire to live up to what he promised to the people at the
election?

Nimal Siripala taken to task


Along with such serious business, the Cabinet discussed other matters that
have led to antagonism among the ministers. At one point, Plantation
Industries Minister Navin Dissanayake took Transport Minister Nimal Siripala
de Silva to task over his criticism of the Yahapalana Government.
Recently, de Silvas criticism went viral in cyber space with various websites
and social media carrying different stories to suggest that the national
government is now fragile. He is reported to have said that the Yahapalana
government has been shattered, leaving people in the lurch.

APC analyses party views


President Sirisena called for the second meeting of the All Party Conference
(APC) on Tuesday evening to discuss the way forward for the resolution of
political questions and to bring about reconciliation.
The respective political parties had submitted their individual proposals to
be considered in this respect. Eastern Province Governor Austin Fernando
had incorporated these proposals by each party, highlighting the
submissions acceptable to all, and drawing attention to areas with
differences.
Common ground was found on matters such as the implementation of the
recommendations by the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation
Commission(LLRC), addressing livelihood issues in the war ravaged areas
and schemes for the benefits of war widows.
Communist Party (CP) representative D.E. W. Gunasekara asked for action
without delay on commonly acceptable matters, through the Cabinet rather
than wasting time.
Dinesh and Mangala clash in APC
Foreign Affairs Minister Mangala Samaraweera also briefed the political
party representatives for around ten minutes, with particular focus on the
substance of the UNHRC resolution on Sri Lanka and the procedure on
follow up action. After the ministers remarks, Mahajana Eksath Peramuna
(MEP) Leader Dinesh Gunawardene struck a note of criticism for not
presenting the reports of the Udalagama and Paranagama Commissions to
the UNHRC for lobbying against international interferences, rather than
relying solely on the report by the Office of the High Commissioner for
Human Rights (OHCHR).
Samaraweera hit back saying the contents of these two locally produced

reports were far more serious than those in the OHCHR report.
Nevertheless, Gunawardene , who is in the forefront in the campaign
against the UNHRC resolution, retorted saying ,no matter what , these were
locally produced reports based on the ground realties, but the OHCHR had
compiled its reports based on hearsay and evidence gathered from
anonymous sources.
A verbal duel ensued between them on the matter at hand for a while.
President Sirisena also allowed Gunawardene to take his time and put
forth his views. Along with MEP, CP and Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP)
expressed their vehement opposition to the proposal to involve foreign
judges in the process.
Likewise, Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), represented by MP Vijitha
Herath , was opposed to the participation of foreign judges.
The meeting looked somewhat low profile due to the absence of Prime
Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. Yet, he was represented by Minister Sagala
Ratnayake.
MP M.A. Sumanthiran, who represented the Tamil National Alliance (TNA),
enraged other participants when he said that the implementation of the
provisions of the UNHRC resolution virtually became the policy of the
government as a co-sponsor of it.
LSSP representative Prof. Tissa Vitarana protested this position, and said the
consultation process with the other parties would not serve the intended
purpose if that were the case.
Sumanthiran has been in the news, particularly in
the Tamil media during the past few days because of
his reported remarks that the Northern Province
Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran should be
removed. According to Tamil political sources,
Wigneswaran is commanding the support of some
members of the TNA in the council, apparently due
to his hard-line positions on issues concerning the
Tamils in the North.
TNA Councilor M.K. Sivajilingam said the chief
minister contested the election as the common
candidate of four Tamil parties, and therefore
Sumanthirans Ilankai Tamil Arachu Katchi alone had no moral right to
decide on his removal. The chief minister was elected with more than
100,000 preferential votes, he said.

Govt determined to pursue action on UNHRC resolution


The UNP-SLFP National Government is now wracked with differences. But, it
looks determined to expedite action in conformity with the UNHRC
resolution. The release of LTTE suspects, held under the Prevention of
Terrorism Act (PTA), is a populist move in the perspective of Tamil polity
though it has stirred up tension among nationalist movements in the
South.
Alongside, the government mulls the repeal of the PTA, a proposal even
outlined in the OHCHR report. Action will be expedited ahead of the planned
visit by a top US official to the country sooner or later.

Joint Opposition irked by TNA lobbying foreign governments


The TNA, backed by Tamil diaspora groups, has started lobbying foreign
governments to secure the participation of foreign judges in the judicial
mechanism proposed by the UNHRC to deal with accountability and human
rights issues during the war.
TNA MP M.A. Sumanthiran met with Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop
last week. He was accompanied by the representatives of Australian Tamil
Congress (ATC), a diaspora group. Australian MP for Reid,Craig Laundy MP
also participated at the meeting.
The joint Opposition, loyal to former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, is
perplexed over the move. It called the TNAs move as a serious
development. The joint Opposition sees the TNA as a force arraigned
against the interests of the country.

SLFP redoubles efforts


for forming its own
government next
Sri Lanka Freedom Party
(SLFP), led by President
Maitripala Sirisena , had its
central committee meeting
on Tuesday evening at his
residence. The party
widely discussed political
matters in view of the
future of the party.

First, Kurunegala district MP Sports Minister Dayasiri Jayasekara demanded


action against attempts by some members of the party to form a different
political front with the backing of a few SLFP allies. He said National
Freedom Front (NFF) leader Wimal Weerawansa, as an MP elected on the
SLFP-led United Peoples Freedom Alliance (UPFA), had announced it at a
recent meeting in Colombo. This has to be stopped forthwith as it is
against the interests of the party, he said.
Jayasekara, the former chief minister of the North Western Provincial
Council, was confronted by MPs Kumara Welgama and Dullas
Alahapperuma. Both said in unison that Weerawansa addressed a meeting
of party supporters to discuss preliminary arrangements for the celebration
of the 70th birthday of Mahinda Rajapaksa. Other than that, they said, there
was no discussion on the formation of an alternative political front.
Then, Jayasekara queried as to why he , as an MP from the area, was not
invited for it.
If CBK was welcomed, why not me, asks President
The President, who remained silent during the heated cross talks, aired his
standpoint. His leadership is not accepted by a section of the MPs. It is more
so among the rank and file of the party, who see the President
as
someone who defected from it to team up with the United National Party
(UNP). Amid such concerns within the party, the President, at Tuesdays
meeting, attempted to justify his position, and asked why he was not
welcomed back into the party fold.
He said he never abandoned the party, but only challenged the leadership
of Mahinda Rajapaksa at the presidential election. He recalled that a more
serious defection took place when former President Chandrika
Bandaranaike Kumaratunga left the party after a row with then leader the
late Sirimavo Bandaranaike, and established a new party. But then again,
he said, the party gladly threw its arms open and welcomed Ms.
Kumaratunga when she made a comeback in 1994 to lead the party to
victory.
Am I not welcome because I am not from an aristocratic family? If I were
from such a family, I would have been accepted without any hesitation,
the President said.
The Presidents remarks came in particular response to Kandy district MP
Lohan Ratwatte who publicly refused to accept the leadership of the
President.
It was yet another aristocratic family member who has declined to accept

my leadership, the President said.


Be that as it may, the President reasserted that he would lead the party to
victory at the next local authorities elections. He stressed the need for
unity among all to win the election. The reference was made to how the
party was relegated to the opposition for 17 years due to internal squabbles
and rebellions at that time.
SLFP hierarchy perturbed over grand birthday for MR
The Joint Opposition, comprising a section of SLFP, arranged to celebrate
the 70th birthday of Mahinda Rajapaksa on a grand scale with religious
observances near the Jayasiri Maha Bodhi in Anuradhapura yesterday.
The SLFP hierarchy has seen the move as a step in the direction of forming
a new party ahead of the local government elections. Disturbed by the
event, SLFP Secretary Duminda Dissanayake, who backed President
Sirisena even at the presidential election, sent a lengthy letter warning
against participation at the events in Anuradhapura. He, in his letter
addressed to all the MPs and party organisers, said such acts would be
detrimental to SLFP interests as a whole, and therefore, they should stay
away from them.
However, some SLFP MPs defied this warning and attended the session. In
fact, they invited people to show up in large numbers at the event to mark
the birthday.
Investment oriented budget tomorrow
The government will present its budget tomorrow. The general impression is
that it will be a budget without major concessions for the people. Yet,
Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake said it would not be the case.
After the budget, the political situation is set to heat up as the Opposition is
waiting in the wings to pounce on the government against some of its
plans.
Posted by Thavam