NCM Aftermath: Reprieve only if SLFP Ministers vow not to work with Pohottuwa again | Sunday Observer

NCM Aftermath: Reprieve only if SLFP Ministers vow not to work with Pohottuwa again

Home Affairs Minister Wajira Abeywardana says, the UNP which naturally keeps pace with the changing situations have already appointed a 12 member politburo to study the existing party structure and recommend the necessary reforms to fulfil the aspirations of the rank and file. In an interview with the Sunday Observer, Minister Abeywardana said, the secret of the party’s survival to date is basically attributable to its resilience to take up challenges. Referring to the No Confidence Motion (NCM) against the Prime Minister, the Minister said, those who supported that move cannot further remain in the Government. It is morally reprehensible. However, if they want to further continue in the Government, they should give an undertaking that they would not work with Pohottuwa but support the Government in future.

Q. Despite their propaganda, ultimately, the Joint Opposition ( JO) couldn’t win the No Confidence Motion (NCM) against the Prime Minister and many SLFP members also abstained from voting. What were the factors that led to the defeat of the JO?

A. There are certain groups within the Government who didn’t contribute to the January 8 mandate received by the Government. They naturally thought they could control the Government, which they cannot accomplish by being in this Government, yet, they persist in their ideology. They have still failed to embrace the new ideology. The January 8 mandate is completely different from the old. They should clearly understand that this process is being triggered by the people’s mandate of January 8 and August 17. There is a particular group in the Government which has not contributed to this process. It is still under the delusion that their old ideology can be revived but it will not happen ever.

Q. Do you think the SLFP Ministers who voted for the NCM have a moral right to remain in the Cabinet, though technically, only the President can remove them?

A. Actually there is no need to bring in an NCM against the Prime Minister. According to Clause 42 (1) of the Constitution, from the time they breach collective responsibility of the Cabinet, they cease to be Ministers.

Q. Is there any truth in the speculations that the UNP Ministers have said they would not attend Cabinet meetings until the 16 SLFP Ministers who voted for the NCM are removed from their portfolios?

A. The United National Front (UNF) Parliamentary group which met at Temple Trees on April 7 unanimously decided that those who voted for the NCM cannot further remain in the Cabinet.

Q. Has the UNP decided to form its own Government or will the National Unity Government continue?

A. It will be decided by the President and the Prime Minister, with their consensus.

Q. There have been calls for a General Election to resolve the political instability resulting from the present situation. What are the changes you would like to see in the political landscape, following the NCM?

A. Certain groups attempted to act against the January 8 and August 17 mandate given by the people. But, winning the NCM against the Prime Minister with a comfortable majority clearly indicated there is no power that can overturn these two mandates. So it is time for the Government to proceed with its agenda.

Where the Government cannot continue in office, a fresh mandate should be sought after dissolving the Government with the consent of the majority of Parliament. At present, there is no such need. Actually, this political issue ensued after a group of SLFP Ministers in the National Unity Government voted for the NCM against the Prime Minister.

According to Article 42 (1) of the Constitution “There shall be a Cabinet of Ministers charged with the direction and control of the Government of the Republic” and as per Article 42(2) “The Cabinet of Ministers shall be collectively responsible and answerable to Parliament.”

If any member of the Cabinet voted in favour of a No Confidence Motion against the Prime Minister, or the Cabinet of Ministers of which he/she was a member, or the Government of which the President was the Head, he/she would be considered to have violated the provisions under Article 42(2) of the Constitution.

Q. There is a call for reforms in the UNP following the NCM. Will you be advocating any changes and reforms in the party structure?

A. The reforms made within a party when it is in power and when it is in the Opposition are quite different. Now that we are in power, we have discussed the reforms to be made within the party to suit the present day needs. A 12 member politburo has been appointed for this purpose which will discuss and recommend the necessary reforms.

Q. Do you think the UNP should find an alternative candidate for the next Presidential Election by grooming a second rung leadership?

A. Facing a Presidential Election and grooming leaders are two different matters. We have to take a decision when the Presidential Election comes up and we have to separately think of the future of the party.

The party and the Government in power are more or less the same. Each party has its own constitution so that we act according to our constitution.

Q. There is a belief that the JO brought this NCM fearing the establishment of Special High Courts which are likely to implicate many JO members involved in various acts of corruption. What do you think of this widespread belief?

A. Yes it is quite so. Those in the Opposition always try to escape the allegations levelled against them. As Government members, it is our responsibility to defeat such moves. Therefore, both, the Government and the Opposition are playing their respective roles.

Q. Several members of the Government have said that the NCM is a conspiracy to topple the Government. What is your view?

A. The intention of the JO is to destabilize the Government as early as possible. That is why they moved the NCM against the Prime Minister. If there is also a group in the Government who supported that move, they can’t remain in the Government, further. If they wish to remain in the Government, they should make an apology and pledge that they would not work with the Pohottuwa, and they wish to remain in the Government. It is obvious they want to work with the Pohottuwa.

Q. The main reason for the NCM was the Treasury Bond scam which severely affected the UNP at the recent LG polls. What should be done to expedite investigations and restore confidence in the Government?

A. The President appointed a Commission to look into the Treasury Bond issue and it has released its report, consisting over a thousand pages. The Commission report has concluded that neither the Prime Minister nor any other politicians are responsible for this incident. If the Commission report had found the Prime Minister guilty, there is no need to move an NCM since according to Clause 8 of the Constitution, he will lose his parliamentary membership. My personnel view is that there is no further issue on this matter.