Premier Mahinda in or out as moves take shape to form interim govt.

  • MR says President has not asked and will not ask him to quit, but Sirisena tells different story
  • Talks on new govt. distract public attention from public revolt and soaring cost of living

Even if President Gotabaya Rajapaksa is yet to tell Sri Lankans how he will provide uninterrupted supplies of electricity, fuel, cooking gas and medical needs of the people once the supplies provided by India’s generosity end in the coming weeks and months, he found the time this week to discuss the formation of “an all-party government.”

This was with 24 parliamentarians who were all once part of the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP)-led coalition. Ironically, this turned out to be the third week when MPs were devoting their attention to a new government. In the process, the immediate issues faced by the people remain in the backburner. Next week, two motions of No Confidence — one on the Government and another on the Speaker are due to be handed over.

Though by no means illegal, the process for such a new government will be time consuming. Firstly, President Rajapaksa will write to all political parties represented in Parliament seeking their views. The Samagi Jana Balavegaya  (SJB), the main opposition in Parliament, is not in favour. Its leader Sajith Premadasa has declared publicly that his party would not join such an arrangement. So is the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP)-led National People’s Power (NPP). Its spokesperson Vijitha Herath said yesterday that their party would also not join an interim government where “there is a role by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa or Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa”. Largely, that leaves mostly the SLPP and its constituents in what seems a non-starter.

There is more to these events than meets the eye. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s backers are also mulling another option that they feel will unite the 42-member breakaway faction which now sits as “independent” group in the opposition benches. They have mooted the name of former minister Dullas Allahapperuma as the new Prime Minister and the formation of a new Cabinet of Ministers. The news had wafted in the air for some time that the subject has become a political hot potato. Those for him and against him made strong contributions at a government parliamentary group meeting on Thursday, prompting Allahapperuma to counter accusations of a conspiracy. The idea behind the move, as one source said, is to ensure “we have a stable government.” He said, “We must show this not only to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) but also to foreign governments that there is stability in Sri Lanka. It is not there at present.”

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