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By Shamindra Ferdinando

Leader of the House, Prasanna Ranatunga, yesterday (23) said the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) wouldn’t replace incumbent Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena.Responding to media queries, after paying a floral tribute at the Reggie Ranatunga memorial at Udugampola, Gampaha, the Urban Development and Housing Minister alleged that canard was spread by the Opposition. Gunawardena is the leader of the MEP, a constituent of the SLPP. The MEP group in Parliament, including the Premier, consists of three MPs.

Minister Ranatunga said that some interested parties propagated the lie that Mahinda Rajapaksa was to be appointed Prime Minister again. When that was denied, the same lpersons speculated that Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) leader Sajith Premadasa was to be appointed the Prime Minister.

The Minister alleged that the Opposition was working overtime to undermine government efforts to stabilize the country.Minister Ranatunga dismissed the SLPP had been divided and was struggling to cope up with political developments.

Commenting on the proposed expansion of the Cabinet of Ministers, lawmaker Ranatunga declared his support for President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s call for the formation of a National Government. Minister Ranatunga said that there had been occasions when the number of Cabinet Ministers passed 100. The proposed National Government was meant to accommodate all political parties, Minister Ranatunga said, declaring that Cabinet appointments would be made by President Wickremesinghe in consultation with Premier Gunawardena.

The formation of a National Government would enable the government to overcome constitutional restriction on the number of Cabinet Ministers. The 19th Amendment restricted the number of Cabinet Ministers to 30 and non-Cabinet Ministers to 40. However, in case the government reached consensus with Opposition political parties, regarding the National Government, constitutional provision regarding the number of ministers didn’t matter.

Recently, SLPP General Secretary Sagara Kariyawasam said that his party submitted a list of members to President Wickremesinghe whom the party felt should be appointed as ministers. The disclosure was made in response to a media query though he declined to name the SLPP’s nominees.

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