President clears the air | Daily News

President clears the air

President Maithripala Sirisena has cleared the air regarding his relationship with the UNP. Meeting with a group of civil society activists, at his official residence, the President made it clear, in no uncertain terms, that on no account would he jettison his association with the UNP. This is amidst rumours of a possible rapprochement between the two warring factions of the SLFP and Joint Opposition, after the President’s recent outburst targeting a certain UNP member who faulted him for appointing the Bond Commission. It also comes in the wake of an alleged spat between the President and the PM that were circulating on social media.

While acknowledging that talks between the SLFP and the Mahinda Rajapaksa faction were being held, the President was insistent that this would in no way be at the expense of the UNP. Denying that he had asked Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to step down, the President went onto criticize certain media whom he faulted for spreading blatant lies, according to the leading news item in an English daily, carried yesterday.

He pledged to continue with the Yahapalanaya government and promised to appoint Presidential Commissions on the lines of the Bond Commission to probe state enterprises such as SriLankan airlines. The President also said that the public were not happy with the delay to punish those involved in major corruption, even after three years since the election of the new government.

The President’s decision to come out in the open and clear all uncertainties in the matter involving his alliance partner, should be appreciated. For one thing, any signs of destability in the government is certainly going to send the wrong message to foreign investors. Besides denting investor confidence, it can also have repercussions on the local financial markets. The Government can ill afford such a scenario at the present juncture.

Above all, the Unity Government concept was a unique feature in the country’s post independence political landscape, where, for the first time, the arch political foes have joined together in a combined effort to serve the country. President Sirisena, certainly, cannot be seen to be giving the karapincha treatment to the UNP which was the vehicle through which he ascended the throne.

True, there are bound to be differences, as with any coalition, and, styles of governance. This is natural, considering the different ideologies of the main protagonists.

It is also difficult to conceive of an alliance between President Sirisena and Mahinda Rajapaksa ever bearing fruition, whatever efforts made by their respective interlocutors to bring the parties together. True, there are no permanent friends, or, enemies in politics. But the rivalry between the duo, without doubt, runs very deep. It is difficult to foresee President Sirisena entering into a political marriage with an individual who he (President) said would have sent him six feet below terra firma, had the results been different, on January 8.

It is also difficult to see Rajapaksa playing second fiddle to the President, under any possible alliance, and, this reality could not to be lost on President Sirisena. MR, certainly, would bide his time to get even with his onetime Senior Cabinet Minister and Party General Secretary, who decamped to consort with the enemy. An alliance, if any, at best, would be an uneasy one and unworkable on the long run.

Besides, President Sirisena cannot peremptorily betray the trust reposed in him by civil society groups whose raison d’etre for selecting the Common Candidate was to rid the country of Mahinda Rajapaksa and his family rule, not to mention the great sacrifices made by the late Ven. Sobitha Thera. They all put their shoulder to the wheel on behalf of President Sirisena to usher in good governance which was alien to Rajapaksa and the main reason why they clamoured for his ouster.

President Sirisena cannot also ignore the UNP voter, who carried him to victory. To say that any alliance with Mahinda Rajapaksa would be a slap in the face of the UNPers would indeed be an understatement. The President cannot be unaware that it was the Greens who conducted his election campaign, at tremendous risk. He cannot be seen to be turning his back on this segment of the voters by now linking up with Mahinda Rajapaksa, and, his caboodle, who, only heaped insults and calumny on the Common Candidate.

The mountain of accusations, and, serious ones at that, made against the Rajapaksa family, by the Common Candidate would also show the President in poor light, before the public, if ever he decides to tie up with Rajapaksa, and, the President cannot be blind to this reality. More so, it would be a betrayal of all those who are eagerly waiting to see wrongdoers of the former regime punished. Hence, the President would not want to place himself in an awkward position, where his credibility would suffer.

Considering all the foregoing, there is no reason to doubt the President’s word that he would continue with the Unity Government, casting aside the demand by the Joint Opposition to sack the UNP from the government, as a condition for a rapprochement. 


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