No Trust Motion against Lankan PM may Hasten Parl Dissolution
COLOMBO: The contemplated No Confidence motion against Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe may hasten the dissolution of Sri Lankan parliament, political observers said. Over 60 opposition MPs in the House of 224 members have petitioned the Speaker for a No Confidence motion against Wickremesinghe for launching a “witch hunt” against those associated with former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and for turning a blind eye to the Central Bank Governor’s unethical conduct.
If the Speaker allows the motion, the Wickremesinghe government will face the prospect of defeat. Presently, it has the support of 94 MPs. But to defeat the motion, it needs 113 votes. The onus of getting the additional votes rests with President Maithripala Sirisena.
Ranil Wickremesinghe This is for two reasons: Firstly, Sirisena fought the January 8 Presidential election with the support of Wickremesinghe’s United National Party (UNP) and is duty bound to save him. Secondly, the single largest group in the opposition is Sirisena’s own Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and remnants of the United Peoples’ Freedom Alliance (UPFA). But Sirisena is yet to establish his dominance over the SLFP and UPFA, which are still in awe of its former supremo Rajapaksa and want him back.
As Head of the Council of Ministers, Sirisena has again offered ministerial berths to attract defectors, but to no avail. To buy time, the government is expected to drag its feet on giving a date for the debate on the No Trust motion. “If Sirisena can’t get the required numbers, he should dissolve parliament and order fresh polls,” a UNP MP told Express. This could happen before June 9, when parliament is scheduled to meet next, the MP added.
He insisted that dissolution cannot be taken as a defeat. “Sirisena’s presidential election manifesto, jointly drafted with Wickremesinghe, had clearly stated that fresh parliamentary elections will be held upon the completion of the new government’s agenda for the first 100 days,” the MP said.