Burying the hatchet | Daily News

Burying the hatchet

The No Confidence Motion against Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and its aftermath is still causing reverberations within the unity government, throwing it into further confusion. The UNP is sticking to its guns and wouldn't settle for anything less than the resignation of the 16 ministers, state ministers deputy ministers who voted for the motion to oust the Premier. The SLFP/UPFA, on the other hand, is a divided house, with some members in favour of continuing with the unity government while others have opted to quit, despite the President's determination to stick to the status quo. It is also reported that those wishing to opt out were in a majority though they have vowed to remain with the SLFP under the leadership of the President and function as an opposition group in parliament, as opposed to joining hands with the Joint Opposition.

Bringing matters to a head, all Cabinet ministers in the SLFP faction of the unity government were to boycott the first Cabinet meeting, post NCM, yesterday in an expression of solidarity with the 6 SLFP ministers who voted for the NCM, on account of the UNP's determined efforts to oust them, according to UPFA General Secretary Minister Mahinda Amaraweera. In the same breath he says that the unity government will continue under a new lease, with added strength, following the New Year, where immediate steps will be taken to fulfill all the promises made to the people. He also said that the prevailing uncertainty in governance is not good for the country and therefore a speedier solution was vital for them to move on, adding that the President was expected to give his consent to the rebel SLFP ministers to resign from their portfolios (they were insistent that only the President could remove them) in a bid to resolve the political uncertainty that has developed since the defeat of Wednesday's No Confidence Motion.

It is not clear if Minister Amaraweera will also be among the SLFP ministers who will be boycotting the Cabinet meeting, in a bid to express solidarity with his colleagues. If that is the case, the government will be further pushed back from effecting speedy solutions to the problems affecting the country, as desired by the President. Boycotting Cabinet meetings, by ministers, is a serious issue and can only deepen the existing fissures between the partners of the unity government. As we mentioned in these spaces yesterday, time is running out for the government to meet its pledges made to the masses at the elections. A Cabinet boycott by a section of ministers can only delay development work and hamper progress.

A divided Cabinet is also not going to inspire investor confidence and the stock market is bound to take a further beating and the rupee plummet still more vis-a-vis the dollar. In any event, the renegade ministers have already hinted at stepping down, within this week. Hence, there is no logic in Minister Amaraweera's claim that the boycott is to express solidarity with them. Besides, these ministers were working at cross purposes while remaining in the government, undermining the authority of not only the Prime Minister but also the President, who is the head of the government. Like Minister Arjuna Ranatunga said, the right course for them to have adopted was to step down immediately after the defeat of the NCM, since thereafter they could not morally claim to be members of the government, whether the President wanted them to stay or otherwise.

It is hoped that the new dispensation that will emerge following the New Year will get its act together and work in unity to deliver on the pledges made to the people. With the exit of the disruptive elements that was a stumbling block for the smooth running of the administration, the President and Prime Minister, no doubt, will have a clear field to implement their programme of work for the benefit of the populace. The squabbling within the government had not only made it lose focus but also brought the state apparatus to a standstill and the public thrown into a state of confusion.

While the SLFP half of the unity government is thus cleansed, it is also incumbent on the UNP to not make things difficult for the Prime Minister. Regrettably, the Grand Old Party which was once a monolith, known for its discipline and integrity, under leaders such as J.R. Jayewardene and R. Premadasa, has today developed fractious tendencies. One cannot recall the existence of the likes of the Range Bandaras and Thevarapperumas in the heyday of the UNP where the leadership was challenged. It is vital that discipline be restored within the party, to go hand in hand with the reforms programme currently underway. All party MPs should speak with one voice and abide by the decisions of the leadership.

Now that a new course in the UNP-SLFP relationship is about to be chartered, post New Year, and the warring parties ready to bury the hatchet, it is hoped that all those involved in the January 8 revolution would join hands with the new order to take the country forward and towards progress.


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Time lost cannot be recovered hope Sirisena understand the gravity of the loss.


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