National Unity Government in Sri Lanka
Ranil Wickremesinghe, Leader of the United National Party (UNP) which bagged the most seats in Monday’s Parliamentary race,took oaths as the 23rd Prime Minister of Sri Lanka and head of its newly-elected Government yesterday.
In a simple ceremony held at the Presidential Secretariat, Wickremesinghe was sworn in before President Maithripala Sirisena at 10:20 a.m., officially kicking off a new cohabitation between the two old allies of the 2015 presidential election.
The pair will lead a national unity Government between their two parties, based on a pact signed soon after the Prime Minister was sworn in last morning.
Wickremesinghe led his party to victory in the 17 August election and secured a record-breaking 500,556 votes to enter Parliament, cementing his claim to the premiership.
The figure was the most number of preferential votes polled by a candidate in the history of Parliamentary elections in Sri Lanka.
Wickremesinghe becomes Sri Lanka’s prime minister for the fourth time in his political career with yesterday’s swearing in.
The chamber was filled with newly-elected MPs and National List nominees from both the UNP and the Sri Lanka Freedom Party led by President Sirisena, who witnessed the oath-taking.
Making a startling appearance was former President and UPFA Kurunegala District MP Mahinda Rajapaksa, who the Prime Minister’s aides said was invited to the ceremony. Rajapaksa ran as Wickremesinghe’s de facto challenger in a bitter and divisive Parliamentary contest.
Rajapaksa was seated in the front row, next to Prime Minister-elect Wickremesinghe and his wife, Dr. Maithree Wickremesinghe. Seated in his row on his right were former First Lady Hema Premadasa and Rajapaksa’s former presidential challenger, Field Marshall Sarath Fonseka.
Wickremesinghe, who passed by Rajapaksa on his entry into the hall, swivelled back to shake the former President’s hand moments later. Following the oath-taking ceremony, President Sirisena also greeted his predecessor warmly and exchanged pleasantries.
President Sirisena and the new Prime Minister will consult on the cabinet of ministers with appointments likely early next week. Both UNP MPs and elected representatives from the President’s SLFP are likely to be accommodated as ministers in the new Government.
UNP, SLFP create history with decisive MoU for joint governance
Creating an extraordinary moment in the country’s political history, the two main rival political parties yesterday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to form a national government.
The Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the ruling United National Party (UNP) led by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) led by President Maithripala Sirisena yesterday at the Presidential Secretariat.
SLFP Acting General Secretary Duminda Dissanayake and UNP General Secretary Kabir Hashim signed the historic MoU between the two parties that have been traditional political rivals.
The agreement takes effect for two years and prohibits crossovers between the two parties during this period
JVP Leader slams National Unity Government
JVP Leader and Colombo District MP elect Anura Kumara Dissanayake has denounced the National Unity Government between the two main parties, saying it was just a nefarious union to share ministerial portfolios.
“The agreement signed to form a national Government is not about a program to build the country. It’s an agreement purely to share perks and privileges and ministerial office between the two parties,” Dissanayake charged in a Facebook post yesterday.
Dissanayake said that while there were pressing national issues in the country, this agreement was broached in order to resolve the personal problems of MPs from the two parties.
“Even though they are claiming to be building a national Government, the UPFA has never made such an announcement. The SLFP MPs who lied to the people on campaign stages and now plan to join a National Government are violating their mandate,” Dissanayake said.
“This attempt is to use their Parliamentary membership which was obtained by fooling the people, to get ministerial perks,” he said.
Dissanayake said that nobody in Parliament will oppose a Government that is serving the people. “There is no need for a National Government to support that,” he said.
The SLFP which accused the JVP of having a secret pact with the UNP during the election campaign, has now exposed itself, the JVP Leader said.