Will never reappoint Ranil as PM - President | Daily News

Will never reappoint Ranil as PM - President

The political unrest that occurred in the country after October 26 is not something sudden. Although it was not a grave crisis, it occurred with the removal of Ranil Wickremesinghe as PM and the appointment of Mahinda Rajapaksa instead. The removal of Wickremesinghe was a result of several incidents that stretched over a long period of time, said President Maithripala Sirisena, speaking to the Sri Lanka Foreign Correspondents’ Association (FCA) at his official residence in Colombo, on Sunday.

The President reiterated that he would never reappoint Ranil Wickremesinghe to the post of Prime Minister.

Following is the full text of President Sirisena’s speech:

As I see it, a certain political unrest has occurred in the country after the October 26 incident. But I don’t assess it as a grave political crisis. The reason for this is the appointment of Mahinda Rajapaksa as Prime Minister and removal of Ranil Wickremesinghe from the post of Prime Minister.

This was not a sudden occurrence. It was the result of several incidents that stretched over a long period of time. I assumed duties as President on January 9, 2015. Immediately afterwards, Ranil Wickremesinghe was appointed Prime Minister even though he had only 41 members of Parliament. This had done after removing D.M. Jayaratne from the post of Prime Minister when he had 162 members out of a total membership of 225 in Parliament. I offered Ranil Wickremesinghe all facilities and privileges to enable him to function as Prime Minister.

Within the first week itself, namely, the third week in January 2015, a disagreement occurred between the two of us about our work plan. It was about the appointment of a Cabinet of Ministers. My election manifesto clearly stated that according to the yahapalana concept, a Cabinet of Ministers would be appointed according to a scientific basis.

This was in keeping with a report formulated by a three-member committee of university dons chaired by Prof. Hettige. I gave this report to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and said Ministers should be appointed according to it. But Wickremesinghe ignored it and divided subjects between Ministers in an arbitrary manner. An example was the Higher Education and Highways Ministry.

When I visited foreign countries within the first year of office and held discussions at diplomatic level to reach development agreements, they questioned me as to whether Higher Education and Highways were in tandem.

From 1947 state banks had functioned under the purview of the Finance Minister. For the first time in history, Wickremesinghe took state banks away from this Finance Ministry. The Central Bank had always been under the Finance Minister. But the Prime Minister took the Central Bank under his wing. Then the Cultural Ministry was bifurcated and one of its sections was created as Internal Affairs and Wayamba Development. Certain institutions were linked to the Education Ministry. Ministers were not divided in a scientific basis. This was the first clash.

Then came the appointment of the Central Bank Governor. When he proposed the name of Arjuna Mahendran, I told him that Mahendran was not a Sri Lanka resident. But as Economic Policy and Planning Minister, Wickremesinghe insisted on appointing Arjuna Mahendran and pleaded with me to appoint him as Central Bank Governor. Finally I acceded to his request and appointed Arjuna Mahendran as Governor against my wish.

As leader of the UNP which was among the 49 parties and organisations which supported my campaign, Wickremesinghe made a great sacrifice. As such, I felt that I should not create clashes and misunderstandings at the very inception. I gave in to him with good intentions because we had to move forward peacefully. Hundreds of these unsuitable occurrences and clashes have happened over the last three-and-a-half years.

People elected me as President to ensure a clean administration and act against bribery and corruption and misuse of power, create a law abiding society and uphold the supremacy of the law.

But as you know, just three months after I became President and he became Prime Minister, the first Central Bank fraud occurred and it was a grave one. Another Central Bank fraud occurred just three months afterwards. A Presidential Commission was appointed to look into it and evidence was heard. Arjuna Mahendran is the first defendant in this case and he is in hiding today. Ranil Wickremesinghe knows Mahendran’s whereabouts, because he was his good friend. An international warrant has been issued for Mahendran’s arrest. Wickremesinghe did not show any interest in getting Mahendran to surrender to court.

This was the biggest and the largest robbery of state funds which led to mass protests. It was to calm down the situation that I appointed a Presidential Commission to probe the Central Bank bond scam. When protests against the bond scam heightened, the Central Bank’s functions got disrupted. Arjuna Mahendran, instead of resigning from the post, went on leave. Around 8 am in the morning, I spoke to a Central Bank Deputy Governor and said I will come over around 10 am. When I got ready to visit the Central Bank, an employee informed me that Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had arrived to see me. Wickremesinghe never visited me unannounced. But on this day I saw that he was restless and under deep mental stress.

I asked him why he had come suddenly. Then he asked me whether I was going to the Central Bank. I told him I had decided to go there to calm down the situation since the employees there were unsettled. As I got down from my car near the Central Bank, Arjuna Mahendran, who was on leave, came and received me with a sheaf of betel leaves. I didn’t not care about it because Mahendran was an accused by then. When I moved a few feet forward, I came across Ranil Wickremesinghe. He must have got Mahendran to come and receive me. I spoke to the Central Bank staff and told them to be calm and start work, promising an investigation to settle all problems.

I hope to appoint a Presidential Commission to probe fraud and corruption committed during the government from 2015 to October 25, 2018, when Ranil Wickremesinghe was Prime Minister. More startling facts may emerge when it starts investigations.

We all entertain an idea about decentralisation of power without dividing the nation and encouraging minority participation in government. We took some steps towards this end, but they were not successful. Ranil Wickremesinghe was a great proponent of decentralisation of power, but during the last three-and-a-half years he tried to withdraw some of the powers given to provincial councils in the sphere of local government Education, Economic Affairs, Sustainable Development and Environment.

World leaders love their country whichever political vision they subscribe to. But as I see it, Ranil Wickremesinghe does not seem to love his country. He loves neo-liberalism.

Another extremely corrupt deal of recent times was the EAP transaction relating to Swarnawahini which belonged to the Central Bank. Ranil Wickremesinghe without informing the Cabinet called for tenders through his economic management committee to sell EAP (Private) Ltd.

The highest bidders were local businessmen who quoted US dollars 65 million and 70 million. But EAP Ltd was sold to a Singaporean company for US dollars 35 million incurring a large loss to the government. Large sums were given as pay offs to several local politicians. The Hilton transaction was another corrupt deal.

Then the proposed Lands (Special Provisions) Act and the Land Bank were not approved by the Cabinet. I halted both because they were against indigenous principles.

When results of the February 10 Local Government Elections were announced, I told Wickremesinghe that we received a such a humiliating defeat due to his political and economic policies and requested him to step down. Several times I invited Karu Jayasuriya to become Prime Minister and he declined the offer.

Three months before appointing Mahinda Rajapaksa as Prime Minister, I invited Sajith Premadasa to take over the post saying I cannot work with Ranil Wickremesinghe. He too was not prepared to take it.

The situation became more serious when the alleged plot to assassinate me came to light. The individual who gave the information also submitted a tape. The informant also named a Cabinet Minister. The IGP before conducting any investigation said the allegation was suspicious.

Two months had passed after beginning an investigation into the plot, but to date Ranil Wickremesinghe has not asked me anything about it so far.

The IGP had issued firearms to the DIG concerned who is in remand now without any legal or procedural basis.

Social media networks friendly with the Prime Minister were ridiculing this alleged plot as a mere comedy. Against such a background I could not move forward with Wickremesinghe as Prime Minister.

I have been in politics for the last 51 years and I have spurned bribery and corruption. I honour democratic principles and always work according to the Constitution.

With a great sense of humility, I have transferred enormous powers vested in the Executive President to Parliament.

Appointing a new Prime Minister, removal of the former Prime Minister, dissolution of Parliament, proroguing of Parliament, and dissolution of the Cabinet of Ministers have all been done in keeping with the provisions of the Constitution. All these actions have not been challenged in court except the dissolution of Parliament.

I wish to thank all party leaders and the Speaker for using the electronic voting system at the last sitting of Parliament as suggested by me.

I am a person who has always respected the majority decision in Parliament. Today we cannot not predict as to who will command a majority in Parliament on November 29.

If a majority is shown on that day according to the voting system I have suggested, I will have to accept it. Even if the UNF clearly shows a majority in Parliament on November 29, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa would decide on the way he should work.

But I will never appoint Ranil Wickremesinghe as Prime Minister again in my whole life.

I have told them not to bring Ranil Wickremesinghe to me along with them even if they show a majority because I will never reappoint him. This is not a personal clash, but a clash of principles. 


 

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