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SJB asks govt. to hold early general election

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alleges refuelling stop of Macron’s plane exploited

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) Spokesman Mujibur Rahuman yesterday (30) urged President Ranil Wickremesinghe to hold an early general election. He said so, responding to UNP MP Wajira Abeywardena’s recent declaration that Wickremesinghe would serve as the President for 12 more years.

Rahuman dismissed Tourism Minister Harin Fernando’s claim that the UNP would continue to rule the country until 2048, as rhetoric intended to divert attention of the electorate.In the absence of a party network at the grassroots level, President Wickremesinghe was actually helpless. The UNP leader was at the mercy of SLPP bosses,” Rahuman said.

Pointing out that in the previous Parliament, the UNP had 107 elected and appointed members, Rahuman said that the electorate had reduced the UNP to a single MP. “The SJB accommodated Harin Fernando on its National List. If the former minister remained with Wickremesinghe, he, too, would have been an ex-MP now,” Rahuman said. Harin Fernando and Manusha Nanayakkara, who successfully contested the last general election in the Galle district, switched allegiance to the then President Gotabaya Rajapaksa several weeks before his ouster. Subsequently, they joined forces with Wickremesinghe, Rahuman said.

Responding to another query, Rahuman challenged the UNP and Cabinet spokesman Bandula Gunawardena to explain their respective positions on the inordinately delayed Local Government polls and Provincial Council elections.

The Opposition also wanted to know Premier Dinesh Gunawardena’s stand on the postponed elections, Rahuman said, warning the Wickremesinghe-Rajapaksa government couldn’t deceive the electorate with bombastic statements.

In terms of the Constitution, President Wickremesinghe could dissolve Parliament anytime he wanted to after the House completed half of its five-year term, but couldn’t do so without the SLPP’s approval. The last general election was held in August 2020.

According to Rahuman, the SLPP has received an assurance from President Wickremesinghe that the Parliament wouldn’t be dissolved under any circumstances.Commenting on the recently conducted All-Party Conference (APC), chaired by President Wickremesinghe, Rahuman said that perhaps the UNP leader called it to appease the Indian leadership.

The President couldn’t have anticipated a consensus on devolution of power, particularly police powers, as the SLPP, the largest party represented in Parliament won nearly 2/3 majority at the last general election campaigning on a communal platform, he alleged.

“President Wickremesinghe knew it was a futile exercise but he went ahead with it to reassure India of his intentions in this regard. New Delhi cannot be deceived by such exercises,” Rahuman said, adding that the reportage of the 26 July event at the Presidential Secretariat exposed the pathetic way it was handled.

How could the President convince his interest in Provincial Councils and Local Government when he sabotaged the polls? Rahuman asked. Referring to President Wickremesinghe’s address to the Bar Association event, held in Nuwara Eliya recently, Rahuman said that he expressed views on elections regardless of the ongoing cases in different courts on the postponement of Local Government polls.

Rahuman said that the government believed that it could exploit events and various developments to its advantage without addressing real issues. The former Colombo District MP said that how the government used French President French President Emmanuel Macron’s refuelling stop at the Bandaranaike International Airport was a case in point.

The French flight landed at the BIA about 20 minutes after 11pm on Friday (28). It departed within three hours.Have you ever heard of Sri Lanka conducting bilateral talks at the presidential level at the BIA? Rahuman asked.

The former UNPer said that the French leader was on his way back home after visiting the French archipelago of New Caledonia, followed by stops in Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea.Rahuman pointed out that President Wickremesinghe, Foreign Minister Ali Sabry, PC, and Foreign Secretary Aruni Wijewardena were among those who were at the bilateral talks at the BIA.What is really happening is real issues are lost in rhetoric, Rahuman said.

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