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Exclusive | Ranil Wickremesinghe gearing up for snap polls in Janaury

In a first and exclusive conversation after the dissolution of the Sri Lankan Parliament, ousted prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe criticised what he called ‘yet another violation of the constitution and the 19th amendment’ by President Maithripala Sirisena, but also exuded confidence in going to the people and seeking a fresh mandate.

On Saturday, the morning after the dissolution of Parliament, Wickremesinghe met India Today TV at Temple Trees, the official residence of the Sri Lanka PM, after a long meeting with his core group.

The UNP is preparing to fight the Sirisena-Rajapaksa combine on all fronts even as he said that nobody is prepared for a national election by January 2019.

“We met the core group to decide how to prepare for elections. The Election Commission (EC) was getting ready for provisional elections in some areas. Their parties are not ready for a national poll, no one was ready. So, it is going to be very interesting,” he said.

On Friday night, through an extraordinary gazette, President Sirisena dismissed the 225-member Assembly with effect from midnight and called for snap polls on January 5, 2019. Wickremesinghe termed it as an act of “desperation”.

“We have the numbers. We were ready for a floor test. So, the fact that they went ahead and dissolved Parliament means they had no majority in Parliament. What they did violates the Constitution. This is an act of sheer desperation,” he said to India Today TV.

The Ranil camp is weighing its options. The meetings that he has been having as leader of the UNP is to ensure all fields are covered. For now, they have approached the EC and are taking a considered view on whether they should go to the court or not.

He said, “If necessary, we will go to courts. We are considering it since all this happened yesterday (Friday night). We know that some organisations have told us that they will be going to court yesterday night itself.

“So, we and some other political parties are discussing taking legal action. As far as polls are concerned, we are getting ready and having meetings and preliminary discussions… People will challenge the validity of the new Parliament. If it is a question of going for elections, go the legal way. Even we are prepared to then consider it and support it.”

This is a setback for the UNP in the tussle between President Sirisena and Wickremesinghe which had been drawn out for a very long time.

But the former PM believes that there cannot be a “constitutional deadlock” dragging for a long time and that “normalcy” will return.

To a question on the image of Sri Lanka taking a hit internationally, he said: “I think our reputation has received a good battering as a result of what has happened. Certainly, many countries have indicated their views that the Constitution must be followed and they are very concerned about what is happening in Sri Lanka.”

 

 

News credit : Indiatoday

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