Ranil claims widespread support for his continuity

Monday, 8 July 2024 02:46 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

President Ranil Wickremesinghe 


  • President Wickremesinghe indicates all major political parties including UNP, SLPP, and even rival SJB back him
  • Emphasises need to move beyond traditional politics and adapt to a changing world
  • Says he is often questioned on his alignment with Mahinda Rajapaksa and explains it is due to only SLPP extending its support to rebuild SL; thanks SLPP for its support
  • Critiques SJB leader Sajith Premadasa for not stepping up when post of Premier became vacant 
  • Claims had he not taken over as PM, SL’s situation would have worsened

President Ranil Wickremesinghe on Saturday indicated he has widespread support by claiming he can speak at political platforms across major parties, including the United National Party (UNP), the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP), and even the main opposition party, the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB).

Speaking at an event in Kalutara yesterday, which marked SLPP MP Rohitha Abeygunawardena’s 27th year in politics, Wickremesinghe stated that he can address the gatherings of these three parties without opposition. “I can speak at the gatherings of the UNP and SLPP. Last night, I was with a group of SJB members. I can even attend those events,” he said.

The event held at the Kalutara Public Ground was attended by prominent political figures including SLPP leader Mahinda Rajapaksa, former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, and SLPP organiser Namal Rajapaksa.

The President also took the opportunity to once again extend an invitation to all parties to collaborate in rebuilding the country. He emphasised the need to adapt to a changing world and move beyond traditional politics. “We must go forward from there,” he said as SLPP leader Mahinda Rajapaksa was seen nodding in agreement. 

Wickremesinghe addressed frequent inquiries about his connection with SLPP leader Mahinda Rajapaksa, going on to clarify the reasons behind their alignment.

“We were always on opposing sides and only came together when necessary. But why am I here with him today? I had an even bigger rift with CBK, yet no one questions when Chandrika Kumaratunge and I sit together. After the 2020 election, Mahinda Rajapaksa and I had an opportunity to discuss the country’s situation. I proposed that we must go to the IMF, and he agreed. During Christmas 2021, I held a discussion with IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva and Gotabaya Rajapaksa asked me to convey a message to her, which I did. All I wanted was to prevent the country from falling into a crisis and to save it,” the President said.

The President said while everyone discussed the country’s issues in isolated pockets at the time, some suggested that if Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Government collapsed, the opposition leader should be offered the Premiership.

“However, when Mahinda Rajapaksa stepped down, the opposition leader did not step up, despite his responsibility to do so. He often quotes Jennings. But even Ivor Jennings has said it is the opposition leader’s responsibility to accept and lead the Government in such a situation,” he noted.

“My friend Anura was missing, and for two days, people were being searched to take up the Premiership. When I was asked, I agreed and support was extended to me. Mahinda Rajapaksa and I have now finished our political careers, but when a country collapses, the main parties have a responsibility to come together and work,” the President added. 

He said the UNP, SLPP, and even the Sri Lanka Freedom Party have always had their differences and faults but are able to discuss matters cordially. 

Reflecting on the events following 9 May 2020, President Wickremesinghe recounted: “Our homes were set on fire, and President Gotabaya Rajapaksa had to flee. I was informed that Sajith would assume the presidency and that I could continue as Prime Minister. However, I believed it would be more effective for me to become President, as I couldn’t match his pace.” 

The President said, however, when he approached former SLPP Chairman G.L. Peiris at the time, he refused to discuss the matter with him, forcing him to approach Mahinda Rajapaksa instead. 

“As Basil Rajapaksa mentioned, the majority of the SLPP agreed to back me, with Harin also joining me and part of the SJB also offered their support. I accepted the SLPP’s backing, securing the majority needed to govern. I am grateful for their support,” he said. 

“This is why I’m being criticised. What else could I have done at the time? I had to accept the support that was available. Who else could I turn to other than Anura, Sajith, and Mahinda? If Gajendrakumar had offered his support then, I would have accepted it as well given the situation,” he said.

The President added: “They embraced the challenge and stood by us. Without their support, I couldn’t have achieved this.” 

He emphasised that while the SLPP and UNP should maintain their independence, they must also collaborate when necessary. The President suggested that both parties should be restructured to facilitate such cooperation.

The President noted that if he had not taken charge, the crisis would have worsened. “We wouldn’t just be out of fuel; we wouldn’t even have coconut oil today. I had to accept support from anyone willing to help save the country. Now, the focus is on how to move forward from here,” the President noted. He urged all parties to work together to overcome the challenges ahead. 


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