Sajith welcomes dissident ruling party faction to opposition

COLOMBO– Sri Lanka opposition leader Sajith Premadasa “warmly” welcomed a breakaway faction of the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) to the opposition on Wednesday (31)

Premadasa tweeted his greetings to the rebel group, hours after SLPP Chairman and former foreign minister G L Peiris announced that 13 members of his party, who had already been functioning independently in Parliament, and would now be sitting in the opposition.

Premadasa’s tweet contained a picture of him welcoming SLPP Matara district leader Dullas Alahapperuma, whose candidacy at the recent election in Parliament for Sri Lanka’s eighth executive president, was backed by Premadasa who withdrew from the race.

Alahapperuma lost the election to then Acting President Ranil Wickremesinghe who won by 134 votes in a 225-member assembly.

President Wickremesinghe has been making repeated calls for an interim all-party government to see much needed economic reforms through, as Sri Lanka grapples with the hardships of the worst currency crisis in its central bank’s history.

Though Premadasa’s main opposition, the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB), has officially said it is ready to support the government in its reform efforts through parliamentary committees, without joining the cabinet. However, analysts say senior SJB members have been blowing hot and cold on the matter, with some appearing eager to play a more hands-on role.

SJB MP Harsha de Silva on Wednesday said while President Wickremesinghe’s proposals for economic recovery – presented through the interim budget for the rest of the year – were sound, it is hard to imagine the present SLPP-led disposition will support it given its diametrically opposed policies.

MP de Silva’s remarks prompted Aviation Minister Nimal Sirpala de Silva to quip in Parliament that the SJB parliamentarian, widely regarded for his economics prowess, is “aasayi bayai” or that he “wants it but too afraid to take it”.




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