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Ruling coalition in Sri Lanka will continue: PM Ranil Wickremesinghe

Traditional rivals UNP and SLFP have been in government together since 2015, when they jointly toppled the Mahinda Rajapaksa regime in a historic election.

By: PTI | Colombo | February 21, 2018 5:57:55 pm
Ranil Wickremesinghe Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. (Source: AP photo)

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on Wednesday told the Sri Lankan parliament that his national unity government with President Maithripala Sirisena’s party was intact, ending the political impasse after their alliance was routed in the recent local elections.

Wickremesinghe’s United National Party (UNP) plunged into a crisis after former president Mahinda Rajapaksa’s new party Sri Lanka People’s Party (SLPP) defeated President Sirisena’s Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and the UNP, winning 225 of the 340 councils which went to polls on February 10.

Traditional rivals UNP and SLFP have been in government together since 2015, when they jointly toppled the Mahinda Rajapaksa regime in a historic election.

“The agreement which was continued with this House’s approval will continue. The agreement is still valid. There is no need to cancel it,” Prime Minister Wickremesinghe told parliament.

Responding to Wickremesinghe’s statement, Minister of Fisheries and SLFP general secretary Mahinda Amaraweera said, “The UNP and we have entered the agreement, we have decided to continue with it. No decision has been made to leave it.”

The statements ended speculation which was rife since February 10 that the unity government may collapse as a result of the electoral drubbing received by both ruling parties in the local council election from Rajapaksa’s SLPP.

Sirisena had asked Wickremesinghe to step down as prime minister. Amaraweera had in a public statement said that Sirisena’s party was no longer willing to serve under Wickremesinghe as the prime minister.

However, Wickremesinghe stood his ground in the midst of efforts by Sirisena to garner enough numbers in the 225 member assembly to find working majority to oust Wickremesinghe.

The resultant political uncertainty prompted the religious leaders to appeal for restoration of normalcy. The economic fall-out from the political crisis caused the rupee to take massive fall against the US dollar.

The Rajapaksa group demanded a snap parliamentary poll well ahead of its mid-2020 schedule to end the political impasse.

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