- Rules out dissolution of Parliament amidst economic crisis
- Requests parties to finalise 5 youth representatives for committees before end of next month
- Says it will not be possible to eradicate corruption till preferential voting system is scrapped
- Calls on all-party support to resolve ethnic issues, to love like children of one mother
- TNA, SJB alliance agree in principle to support President’s proposal
- Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa pledges to support 13th Amendment
- Wickremesinghe to convene all-party meeting after Budget passed
President Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday affirmed that he will not dissolve the Parliament amidst an economic crisis, whilst extending an open invitation to all political parties to support the efforts to resolve the ethnic crisis.
“I will not dissolve the Parliament. There is a huge economic crisis. Do it (dissolve the Parliament) after resolving the economic mess. Today people are fed up with the political parties and the politics,” he told the Parliament yesterday.
The President requested both the Government and Opposition parties to finalise the five youth representatives to participate in the committees before the end of next month and to appoint them in January.
President Wickremesinghe said without delivering a system change, politicians will not be able to win the confidence of the people.
“We have not seen any new faces in the Parliament. May it be a new or an old party, the people are the same and they have been rotating. Let’s first give relief to the people and then go for an election to take office,” he said.
President Wickremesinghe also said that until the preferential voting system is scrapped, it will not be possible to eradicate corruption in the country.
“How much is spent by a candidate to win over a seat? Those days with Rs. 25 or Rs. 50 million was sufficient to hold elections, but given the current economic conditions, even if the rupee is at 380, we cannot even think about it,” he said.
Noting that the Parliament is the only place that can change the perception and deliver the system change the people are asking for, he called on all Opposition factions to work with him and deliver the system change that the people have been demanding.
“Shall we all get together and resolve the ethnic issues to love like children of one mother?” he asked.
President Wickremesinghe said the meeting can be held during the second week of December, once the 2023 Budget process is completed on the 8 December, where all parties can convene for the decisive meeting.
President said numerous times, the matter has been discussed and opinions have been expressed and therefore it is imperative that all factions convene to arrive at a consensus.
During the Parliamentary sitting, the President also requested the consent of the Opposition members.
Chief Opposition Whip Lakshman Kiriella, Tamil Progressive Alliance Leader Mano Ganesan and Tamil National Alliance (TNA) Spokesperson M.A. Sumanthiran, all consented to the proposal and indicated their willingness to hold discussions and arrive at a common solution.
“SJB Alliance is in agreement to divide power,” SJB MP Ganesan said.
TNA MP Sumanthiran said: “If you (President) can call on all parties as soon as we conclude the Budget sessions, we can meet in this regard.” In response, President agreed to the suggestion and expressed the hope the parties can resolve to agree by 31 December.
SJB MP Kiriella however said they will not participate if the Government is planning to abolish the 13 Amendment to the Constitution, as it had happened in the past under the leadership of former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
“I am going to protect the 13th Amendment,” the President responded.
Responding to the President, SJB MP Kiriella said: “You are only one person. We know what Pohottuwa has in their mind. Even the Prime Minister is not in agreement,” he quipped.
Following many requests made by President Wickremesinghe, former President Mahinda Rajapaksa also pledged that SLPP would support the 13th.
However, SLPP MP Gevindu Cumaratunga said the President and Parliament must consider the ground reality before taking decisions on the national issue.
“I am unclear on the proposal made by President Wickremesinghe. We will only agree if we uphold the sovereignty of Sri Lanka. Otherwise, I doubt if the majority of the people would support the idea after all the sacrifices made by our soldiers to ensure the sovereignty of the country.”