Talks between Lankan President, UNF lawmakers end without breakthrough
Sri Lanka's main Tamil party, Tamil National Alliance (TNA), said that President Maithripala Sirisena has assured that he will resolve the ongoing political crisis when the Parliament meets again next week even as the talks between the two sides ended without any breakthrough yesterday night. President Sirisena had invited ousted Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe's United National Front (UNF) and the TNA for talks yesterday.
The meeting was organized amid speculation that Sirisena may opt to restore the pre-October 26 status quo. However, the talks on Friday night ended without any breakthrough. "President admitted that Mahinda Rajapaksa has no majority. He wants another motion to be approved in Parliament to prove the issue," M Sivamohan, one of the TNA parliamentarians who attended Friday night's talks, said.
The President, however, said that there are enough examples of minority governments functioning around the world, Sivamohan added. TNA leader R Sampanthan said Sirisena assured to resolve the issue next week. The UNF team, which met Sirisena without their leader Wickremesinghe, said that the President has promised another round of talks tomorrow. "We'll attend the talks," said Akila Viraj Kariyawasam, the UNF General Secretary.
Lanka is witnessing a political crisis since October 26 when President Sirisena sacked Wickremesinghe and replaced him with former strongman Rajapaksa. Sirisena later dissolved Parliament, almost 20 months before its term was to end, and ordered snap polls. The Supreme Court overturned Sirisena's decision to dissolve Parliament and halted the preparations for snap polls. Both Wickremesinghe and Rajapaksa claim to be the Prime Ministers.
Wickremesinghe, MP for Colombo district since 1977, says his dismissal is invalid because he still holds a majority in the 225-member Parliament. Meanwhile, the UNF has moved three no trust motions against Rajapaksa, who has refused to step down. Speaker Karu Jayasuriya has officially conveyed that the House doesn't recognize Rajapaksa as the legal Prime Minister until he proved his majority in the House.
Political analysts say Maithripala Sirisena was buying time until the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka could deliver its ruling on the dismissal of the parliament by him. Political parties and civil society organizations challenged Sirisena's order, which they claimed was unconstitutional.
The Supreme Court on November 13 issued a temporary stay order on Parliament's sacking while setting the dates for its final ruling for early this month. As many as 13 petitions have been filed in this regard. The Tamil National Alliance has pledged to help the restoration of the pre-October 26 status by helping Wickremesinghe to prove majority in the House.