President issues warning over UNP No-Confidence Motions against SLFPers

Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena

President Maithripala Sirisena has warned that the UNP MPs move to press no confidence motions against select SLFPers could push the coalition partner towards the Joint Opposition members.

Sources said the warning from the President when a group of UNP MPs called on him to raise their concerns over how six SLFP Cabinet Ministers and an MP (former Deputy Speaker) had voted in favour of the Joint Opposition-led No confidence motion against the Prime Minister on Thursday.

Maithripala Sirisena had warned UNP Ministers to give up the notion of bringing a No-Confidence Motion against the said SLFPers.

According to the sources, the President had pointed out that if the UNP brings No-Confidence Motions against SLFP Parliamentarians, it would lead to the SLFP uniting with the Joint Opposition to garner the needed 113 MPs to form a Government under former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, and that the President would be compelled to allow such a move.

The President cautioned the UNP of this possible political power shift when UNP Ministers Mangala Samaraweera, Malik Samawarawickrama and Akila Viraj Kariyawasam went to meet the President at his official residence on 5 April.

The UNP Ministers had met with the President to inform the latter that they would be submitting No-Confidence Motions against the SLFPers who voted in favor of the Motion against the Prime Minister and that they should not remain in the cabinet for that reason, and for criticising the Premier.

The President had responded by pointing out that the UNP Ministers Mangala Samaraweera, Akila Viraj Kariyawasam and Harin Fernando had been critical of him in public and went on to question why these UNP ministers should be in a cabinet headed by him, sources told the Daily FT.

The President had then notified the UNP Ministers to abandon the idea of bringing No-Confidence Motions against the SLFP.

Notwithstanding the President’s warning, the group of UNP backbenchers met with Speaker Karu Jayasuriya and handed over No-Confidence Motions against six SLFP Cabinet Ministers, and former Deputy Speaker Thilanga Sumathipala.

Addressing the media soon after submitting the Motions to the Speaker, UNP Parliamentarians Mujibur Rahuman, Ashu Marasinghe and Sydney Jayaratne said that 16 SLFP Ministers had voted in favor of the No-Confidence Motion against the Prime Minister and the Government on Wednesday and therefore, must be removed from the Government.

The seven Motions handed over on 5 April were against Ministers S.B. Dissanayake, Dayasiri Jayasekara, Susil Premajayantha, Anura Priyadarshana Yapa, Chandima Weerakkody, W. D. J. Seneviratne and former Deputy Speaker Thilanga Sumathipala.

The Motions were signed by 20 backbencher UNP MPs.

MP Rahuman told the media that No-Confidence Motions will be brought against the remaining dissident SLFP Ministers by Monday (9 April).

The outstanding Motions will be brought against SLFP Ministers TB Ekanayake, Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena, Dilan Perera, Sudarshini Fernandopulle, Anuradha Jayaratne, Susantha Punchinilame, Lakshman Wasantha Perera, Tharanath Basnayake and Sumedha G Jayasena.

(Source: Daily FT – By Skandha Gunasekara)