I will abide by the Constitution - PM | Sunday Observer

I will abide by the Constitution - PM

Pic: Rukmal gamage
Pic: Rukmal gamage

At a discussion with the media on Friday, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said the coalition government will continue to take forward the January 8 mandate with several political, fiscal and party reforms. He accepted the peoples’ verdict during the last week’s local government (LG) elections and said, “The mid-term LG polls were a good barometer for the government to check the pulse of the people. It is a warning put out by the voters and we would initiate reforms accordingly. The UNP will also go through a major restriction plan with ‘a group of new leaders being groomed to be the next generation of leaders of the party.”

In his first appearance following the LG polls, Prime Minister Wickremesinghe said the coalition government will work according to the provisions of the Constitution and he will continue to carry out duties as the Prime Minister. “We have time to correct our situation and plan to restructure the entire development program of the government with an impending cabinet reshuffle,” he said.

Speaking to the journalists at “Temple Trees” on Friday, he said he had a round of discussions with President Maithripala Sirisena after the election and will have another discussion next week. "When I called on the President he told me that other parties such as the Joint Opposition wanted a meeting with him and I told him to go ahead and get their suggestions as well," the prime minister said.

Some of the questions asked by the journalists and PM’s responses:

Q: You mentioned about the reforms within UNP. How do you plan to introduce reforms?

UNP will effect some major changes with an emerging young group of MPs to be groomed to take over leadership of the party over the next 20 years. The leadership should play a major role and those who aspire to be leaders should be able to work in unison. The UNP is the only political party that remains as the ‘single strong’ party within the political system of this country. We want to ensure a smooth transition of the party leadership without disruption. I will discuss it with the members of the party and we will go ahead with it.

Q: You have been the leader of UNP for more than 20 years. Don’t you think it’s time to hand over the leadership to someone else?

That’s why I said we are going to create a new generation of leaders. It will be implemented when the Elections Commission completes the lists of elected members to local bodies. It won't happen in the next 24 hours.

Q: Reports say that you were being asked to resign from the post of Prime Minister. They say even the President is making a similar request. What is your response?

We will work according to the Constitution.

Q: What are you going to correct?

The economic situation caused by the drought and the floods, had a negative impact on the economy. We have to maintain the cost of living at a reasonable level. We are analysing the situation now and we will get together as a government and take corrective action. Reforms will also take place as we have to see about debt repayments. We have to decide whether there was value for money where spending is concerned.

Q: You talked about restructuring the cabinet, have you had discussions with the President on this subject?

We did have two discussions and we will be meeting again next week. We have held discussions with our members and backbenchers.

Q: Has the President asked you to resign as claimed by the SLFPers?

I was informed of the SLFP stand. The UNF leaders also have expressed their stand especially to President. I was told that the President will discuss it with the Joint Opposition.

Q: Has the former President spoken to you? He has denied that he had told you to remain as PM?

He talked to me last Monday and asked me whether I am going to resign. I said no and he said it is a wise decision.

Q: It was alleged that you have had connections with the former President and that you had protected him.

I have no barrier to talk to anyone, or any MP, for that matter.

Q: Would you think that your failure to take action against Rajapaksas for the crimes they had committed, had an impact on the result of this election?

We have taken legal action against Mahinda Rajapaksa family, and the regime and the investigations are continuing; however the people are a bit impatient and they keep asking, “What have we done to bring them to book.?” But the government has taken measures to strengthen the legal system and to expedite the legal procedures, especially over the last two months.

Q: Minister Ranawaka has said former President has to be made the Leader of Opposition.

The Speaker will decide on that.

Q: There is a talk of forming a new government.

Our stand is that this government could move forward.

Q: It was said President had sought the opinion of the Attorney General to remove you.

The Constitution is clear as to when a Prime Minister could resign. One instance, is if one loses a No Confidence Motion.

Q: Can you survive a No Confidence Motion?

That can be sorted out in Parliament.

Q: Some UNPers have said their party should form a government of its own.

Anyone can express any view. If they don't talk; there’s dearth of news.

Q: What are your views on it?

I think the present government should continue.

Q: How will the UN Human Rights Council sessions and the making of a new constitution be affected by the present scenario?

Our delegation will go to Geneva. It is a question of the progress which we have achieved, when it comes to human rights. When it comes to the constitution, the steering committee has to meet and decide on the next step.

Q: Why did you cancel your scheduled visit to India this week?

I thought I should be in the country at this moment. I might have to summon the UNF parliamentary group again. I have not even moved out of Colombo as I thought I should be available to discuss any issues if there are any.

Q: Did you meet any foreign diplomats in Colombo and if so, what did you discuss with them?

I met the Indian High Commissioner, US Ambassador and the Chinese Ambassador. I also met the British High Commissioner last week..

“It had some impact but not putting wrongdoers behind bars was a bigger issue. As far as the economic issues, the government has to take the responsibility. I as the Prime Minister will also have to take the responsibility.

Q: Did the Bond scam had an impact on your defeat?

It had some impact but not putting wrongdoers behind bars was a bigger issue.

Q: There are allegations that some have intervened and had influenced the police in the cases such as Thajudeen murder.

We have told the police to let us know if someone intervened, even if they were ministers.

Q: There were allegations that you have also talked to the police.

I have not done it.

Q: Has the President done it?

Not to my knowledge.