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Sri Lanka’s major opposition parties refuse to work with new PM Ranil Wickremesinghe

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ECONOMYNEXT – Several major opposition parties and independent factions within the former ruling coalition on Friday (13) expressed opposition to the appointment of Ranil Wickremesinghe as  Sri Lanka’s 26th prime minister and said they will not accept any positions in the new government to be headed by him.

The main opposition, the Samagi Jana Balavegaya, which missed the bus to the premiership on Thursday (12) said Wickremesinghe’s appointment does not reflect the people’s mandate, given the United National Party (UNP)’s humiliating defeat at the 2020 parliamentary polls.

The Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), which quit the ruling coalition earlier, said it has refused offers to join the new government. SLFP chairman and former President Maithripala Sirisena rejected invitations to take up ministerial portfolios.

A group of former government MPs who have been functioning independently in parliament also said they will not be joining a Rajapaksa-Wickrmesinghe government. The MPs include former ministers Wimal Weerawansa and Udaya Gammanpila were removed by President Rajapaksa from the cabinet. Speaking to reporters on Friday, the MPs reiterated their call for an all-party government, which would require Wickremesinghe to step down.

Leader of the opposition Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP)-led National People’s Power (NPP) Anura Kumara Dissanayake also told reporters on Friday that his party will not accept any portfolio in a WIckremesinghe government.

Opposition Tamil National Alliance (TNA) parliamentarian M A Sumanthiran tweeted on Friday that the appointment of the new prime minister is not a democratic step but the TNA will support all positive steps taken towards economic recovery.

India’s The Hindu quoted him as saying the previous day: “The President has completely lost legitimacy, people want him to go home, and the Parliament will soon vote on a motion expressing displeasure over him. Mr. Wickremesinghe had no legitimacy in the current Parliament right from the beginning. He did not even win in his constituency.”

General Secretary of the Ceylon Workers’ Congress (CWC) Jeevan Thondaman tweeted that Wickremesinghe would have his party’s fullest cooperation.

Leader of the All Ceylon Makkal Congress Rishad Bathuideen has yet to make a public statement on his party’s stance, while Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) leader Rauf Hakeem has been critical of Wickremesinghe’s appointment and is unlikely to join a government under him.

SJB parliamentarian Rajitha Senaratne told reporters on Friday that the new prime minister is a failure just like President Gotabaya Rajapksa.

Wickremesinghe does not have 113MPs to back him, said Senaratne.

“Just like Sir (nickname for the president) failed, so has Ranil,” he said, adding that anti-government protestors gathered outside the presidential secretariat are now calling him Ranil Rajapaksa.

Senaratne claimed the prime minister is serving the interests of the Rajapaksas over those of the people.

The MP explained the SJB’s delay in taking the president up on his offer as an unwillingness to carelessly form a government. Any government taking up the job would have to have a plan in place to resolve the issues of queues and shortages, he said. Thursday morning, the MP said, SJB representatives had spoken to economists and to diplomats to see if securing aid was possible, after which the party had arrived at its decision. (Colombo/May13/2022)

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