UPFA doesn’t have majority, admits Keheliya

Saturday, 10 November 2018 01:13 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • Concedes reliant on crossovers but confident of getting majority before House vote 
  • Says non-UPFA MPs will vote for MR in Parliament  
  • TNA MP Viyalendran says President promised to release land by 31 Dec. 


By Chathuri Dissanayake 

As the political tussle to take over control of Government enters the third week, President Maithripala Sirisena’s party yesterday said they don’t have the required majority and will rely on crossover members to support them if a vote is taken. 

“As of now, we have 104/105, and UNP has only 95 and TNA has not said they are going to vote against the Prime Minister,” the Government Spokesperson appointed by President Maithripala Sirisena, Keheliya Rambukwella told reporters yesterday. 

“There are some who you cannot see as supporters right now. In a situation like this you have the numbers, but then you have other numbers that will show at the floor count.”

Rambukwella, when asked, acknowledged that the President’s party United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) will have to rely on crossovers to make up the 113 needed. 

“Whatever the political party, we will show the numbers,” he said, adding that relying on crossovers is not something new. 

However, Rambukwella did not comment on the date for the vote to test majority, insisting that on 14 November, Parliament will only have a ceremonial opening with the Throne Speech, following which the session will be adjourned. 

“The 14th is the day you have the throne speech,” he insisted, adding that they will show the majority in Parliament on the first available day. 

“A No-Confidence Motion has to be brought in. If you look at the Parliamentary system, you need to give a certain time span and then the party leaders have to sit. We had the party leaders meeting just three days go,” Rambukwella claimed.

Anura Priyadharshana Yapa, who was appointed as the State Minister of Transport on Thursday, insisted that the practice has always been that “once the President delivers the Throne Speech, Parliament adjourns for another day”.  

Speaking at the media briefing, Tamil National Alliance (TNA) MP S. Viyalendiran, who was appointed Deputy Minister of Regional Development (Eastern) by Sirisena following his pledge to support Mahinda Rajapaksa, claimed that the Government led by the UNP has ignored all proposals given by his party, despite the support given. 

“For the last three years, we have supported Ranil Wickremesinghe’s Government. In fact, each time we supported, we had placed several proposals before them but unfortunately, these were never supported,” he claimed, highlighting that it was President Sirisena who set up the North and East Development Committee in July.

According to him, under the President’s Chairmanship, the Northern Development Committee has worked to meet the requirements of the North and East since being set up. 

“The President established the North and East Development Committee in July this year. We submitted proposals at the first committee meeting regarding releasing lands and the controversial factory in the East. We got good responses in the third meeting. Those proposals were not met in the last three and half years, and we are not able to face our electorate,” he claimed. 

Viyalendiran also expressed confidence in Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa being the only leader who has the capacity to find a solution to the ethnic problem as he has the backing of the southern community. 

“We see that the South has to accept any solution, especially the Sinhala majority, and we need the support of Mahinda Rajapaksa to ensure we have the support of the southern communities as he holds the support from the community. In the North, we see that Maithripala Sirisena has won the support of the minorities. Joining with these two people, we have a good chance of solving the ethnic issue,” he claimed. 

The President has already given an undertaking to release both private and State land occupied by the Army by the end of the year, he said, adding that in the event they are unable to do so, specific reasons will be outlined by the authorities. 

“The President has advised the relevant authorities to release the land before 31 December. I have seen developments; they have already started releasing the lands in Pattipaley in the Eastern Province, which are private lands,” he said, explaining that 24 places extending to 64 acres of private land and 1,500 acres of State land are yet to be released. 

Rambukwella noted that a timeframe will be developed to release the land, subjected to national security. Further, he said assessment has been done already over the period of three and a half years, but the process has slowed down.