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UNP Working Committee calls for immediate general elections

The Working Committee of the United National Party, which met on Friday has called for an immediate dissolution of Parliament and conduct of general elections as the only way to halt the Opposition’s efforts to “undermine” the government’s endeavours to re-build democracy in the country.

The Working Committee statement said:

It was the fervent wish of the vast majority of people in this country to establish good governance based on democracy subsequent to the ending of the dictatorial rule of a single family for close to a decade.

As the one party that has formed governments on its own and the party that has ruled this country for the longest period for the benefit of the people, the United National Party strategically brought about a presidential election at the end of the year 2014 in order to rid the land of that family dictatorship. For this necessary and noble cause, the General Secretary of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party, Mr. Maithripala Sirisena, was chosen as the candidate who could win the support of everyone cutting across all divisions such as ethnic identity, class and religious faith. The United National Party played the most critical role in this exercise. We must commend President Sirisena for taking up this formidable challenge in the midst of great risks to himself.

There were a few SLFP leaders, many political parties and civil society organizations and activists who contributed much to his victory. It was the UNP and UNP activists who organized all the major rallies, printed and distributed leaflets from house to house across the length and breadth of the country and put up most of the posters to ensure his victory. Except in the North and East, in the rest of the country it was the members of our party who operated as polling agents and as representatives at counting centres. We don’t think anyone has forgotten that it was the membership of our party that worked tirelessly day and night even as they faced numerous threats and were subjected to all kinds of harassment by the supporters of Mahinda Rajapaksa.

The benefits that accrued to the citizens of this country are immense. They were obtained, let us reiterate, thanks largely to the efforts of our membership who had to overcome the challenges posed by the abuse of state resources, the intensely oppressive climate in which the rule of law was absent, and other obstacles thrown in their way by the opposing campaign.

The President sought and obtained a mandate to appoint Ranil Wickremesinghe as the Prime Minister and to appoint a cabinet capable of delivering all the pledges in the 100 Days Programme. Therefore it can be concluded that Ranil Wickremesinghe was appointed as Prime Minister from a mandate given under unique conditions by the people. Subsequently the United People’s Freedom Alliance elected President Sirisena as the leader of that party and pledged to support the 100 Days Programme.

As per the 100 Days Programme, the people have been offered economic benefits and the constitution has been amended. No one will dispute that what we have achieved in 100 days is what many have promised to deliver for years and have failed to do so.

The UNP has taken the leadership to institute electoral reform. It has taken a very flexible position in this regard, giving ear to the views of other political parties. The UNP gave its fullest support to obtain cabinet approval for this.

It is clear, however, that a group led by the Leader of the Opposition is engaged in a concerted effort to undermine these efforts. The Leader of the Opposition, Nimal Siripala Silva, the Secretary of the SLFP, Anura Priyadarshana Yapa, the Secretary of the United People’s Freedom Alliance as well as some SLFP MPs who hold ministerial or deputy ministerial positions have tabled in Parliament a no-confidence motion against the Prime Minister. There is a similar motion of no-confidence against the Finance Minister Mr Ravi Karunanayake.

Prof GL Peiris has openly stated at a media briefing that the purpose is to take up the no-confidence motion for debate, oust the Prime Minster and appoint in place someone they support. After setting up a government, they would get the 20th Amendment passed, he said. Accordingly, it is clear that the Opposition is in a pernicious effort to bring down the Government violating all agreements.

Also, the malicious and subversive campaign to stop the appointment of three civil society representatives to the Constitutional Council clearly indicates that this group is engaged in a reprehensible move to embarrass the President and the Government, and mislead the people.

Their decision to subvert the 20th Amendment and debate the no-confidence motion against the Prime Minister shows that they will not act in a people-friendly manner in the legislature.

In a situation where the President has made good on all promises made to the people, the Working Committee unanimously decided on June 12th that this campaign launched by this opposition group to destabilize the country and turn back the Janury 8th revolution should be stopped and that the President should be asked to dissolve Parliament and let the people elect a Government of their choice.

It was emphasized that the call by the Honorable Speaker as well as the majority of parliamentarians to dissolve Parliament should be heeded.

The UNP has also decided that future elections subsequent to the next parliamentary election should be held under the proposed new system. Under this new system there will be an MP

returned from every electorate. In addition, there will be members returned from districts and also taking into account the total numbers polled nation-wide.

As a result each party will have MPs in proportion to the total number polled by the particular party. It was the consistent position of the UNP that the number of seats in Parliament should not exceed 225. The Working Committee stresses that this position has not changed.

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