Panel to decide future of Sri Lanka’s unity government



Colombo: The Sri Lankan government said on Wednesday that it had appointed a special committee to decide on the future of the unity government after the two ruling parties suffered a defeat in local elections.

Housing Minister Sajith Premadasa said the ruling United National Party (UNP) and its coalition partner, the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), had decided to set up the committee. A report was expected to be submitted to the leaders soon.

The UNP led by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and SLFP led by President Maithripala Sirisena have been facing days of political unrest after their defeat in the local government polls on February 10.

The SLFP, which won 10 councils out of 340 in the local election, have been calling on the resignation of the Prime Minister, whose UNP won 41 councils in the polls.

Both parties were defeated by former Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse’s party, the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (Sri Lanka People’s Front), which won 239 councils.

Rajapakse has since then been calling for a parliamentary election in order to elect a new government.

SLFP ministers who held meetings with the President on Tuesday said the unity government will not continue if Wickremesinghe does not step down and pave way for a new Prime Minister to be elected.

“We need a new Prime Minister to carry forward a new parliament. We hope the President will decide on this in the next two days,” Deputy Ports Minister Nishantha Muthuhettigama told reporters after a party meeting.

Ruling UNP members who hold the highest number of seats in Parliament, however, said they would continue with Wickremesinghe as the Prime Minister and it would form a government even if the SLFP leaves the unity government.

“The UNP will form its own government and continue till the next parliamentary election. We will take this country forward,” a UNP cabinet minister told Xinhua.



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