No possibility I will be re-appointing ousted PM Wickeremesinghe, says Sri Lankan President

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena. (FILE PHOTO)

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena Sunday clarified that he would never reappoint ousted prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, as per a PTI report. He, however, accepted the fact that Ranil’s removal had created “some form of political unrest” in the country, but said he didn’t consider it as ‘a serious political crisis’.

Sirisena had, in a sudden move last month, sacked Wickeremesinghe and replaced him with former President Mahinda Rajapksa, called ‘unconstitutional’ by many, leading to a political crisis in the country with both Wickremesinghe and Rajapaksa claiming to be the legitimate prime minister.

Sirisena, addressing the Colombo-based foreign correspondents, said: “There is no possibility that I will be re-appointing him (Wickeremesinghe).”

“There is some form of political unrest in the country due to my decision, but I do not consider it as a serious political crisis,” he said. President said that he and Wickremesinghe had developed serious policy differences on their approach to governance.

“The first one was on the appointment of the Cabinet. I had entrusted a committee of academics to recommend ways to appoint a cabinet based on a scientific division of subjects. But Mr Wickremesinghe ignored those recommendations,” he said.

Sirisena said that Wickremesinghe appointed one ministry to handle both the higher education and the highways. One of the major issues of conflict was Sirisena’s opposition to Wickremesinghe’s nominee to the post of Central Bank governor Arjuna Mahendran, a Singaporean national.

“I told him (Wickremesinghe) that he should not be appointed because he is a non Sri Lankan. He insisted that he (Mahendran) be appointed,” Sirisena said.

The President said that Mahendran was responsible for the biggest financial scam in the country over the Central Bank’s issuance of bonds. A probe had found Mahendran guilty of providing insider information to a dealer linked to his son-in-law.

“He (Mahendran) is absconding and Ranil Wickremesinghe knows his whereabouts,” Sirisena said, adding that he would appoint a special probe on Wickremesinghe’s three years as prime minister, accusing his government of being corrupt.

The President described Wickremesinghe as a proponent of destructive neo-Liberal economic policies which are not suitable for Sri Lanka.

“How can I work with a government leader who was ridiculing an attempt on my life,” Sirisena said, accusing the ousted prime minister of trying to undermine a probe on an alleged plot to assassinate him.

Sirisena claimed that Wickremesinghe’s sacking, Rajapaksa’s appointment and Parliament’s dissolution for fresh elections were all constitutional actions.

“They (the Opposition parties) have only challenged my decision to dissolve Parliament,” he said.

Sirisena accused Speaker Karu Jayasuriya of violating Parliament’s standing orders in approving the motion of no confidence against Rajapaksa.

He said although the standing orders can be suspended, Jayasuriya’s action to approve the motion on the strength of voice was wrong in a matter of changing of a government.

Sirisena later dissolved the Parliament and ordered a snap election. The Supreme Court overturned Sirisena’s decision to dissolve Parliament and halted the preparations for the elections.

Speaker Jayasuriya then ordered a floor test in the 225-member assembly to end the ongoing political crisis.

The United National Front led by Wickeremesinghe has already moved three motions of no trust against Rajapaksa. Rajapaksa has refused to step down.

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