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Ranil is staying put; postpones decision to quit

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe who was expected to resign after he met President Gotabaya Rajapaksa today has not done so

UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe who was expected to resign after he met President Gotabaya Rajapaksa today has not done so and has deferred the decision to quit to a series of meetings scheduled for tomorrow and the day after.

The new President and the Prime Minister met at the Presidential Secretariat and discussed “the way ahead for the government and Parliament,” a senior official in the Prime Minster’s office told RepublicNext.

After the heavy electoral defeat at the Presidential elections on Saturday, Wickremesinghe was expected to offer his resignation to President Rajapaksa today at their first formal meeting after the President’s inauguration.

There is a growing clamour among the United National Party Members of Parliament that the government should resign and sit in the Opposition allowing President Rajapaksa to appoint an interim government which will function until General Elections are held in four months time.

Two days ago after the defeat at the Presidential poll Cabinet Ministers who met with the PM had urged him to quit and give up government. Yesterday at a stormy Parliamentary Group meeting a number of MPs had insisted that they should resign and not allow the President to dissolve the House until he legally can on March 1, 2020.

A number of Ministers have already submitted their resignations and non-Cabinet Minister Dr Harsha de Silva is the latest to do so today.

Deputy Minister Nalin Bandara told reporters in Colombo this morning, that the UNP will gain a political advantage only if they allow the Rajapaksa camp to take over and attempt to implement their presidential election manifesto in the run-up to an election.

Bandara is not alone in expressing anger and frustration at Wickremesinghe who appears to be dragging his feet.

Wickremesinghe met UNP “seniors” today and is expected to talk to the leaders of the United National Front tomorrow. It is not clear who they were.

Meanwhile, leaders of political parties in Parliament will also meet tomorrow to decide the future course of action the House should take in the light of the Presidential Election which the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna won comfortably.

Speaker Karu Jayasuriya has asked the party leaders to choose between three options they can take:

First, whether the Parliament would be dissolved according to the Constitution on March 1, 2020 and the poll held sometime in April.

Second whether Parliament should by a two-thirds majority resolve to dissolve the House earlier than March 1st.

And thirdly for the Prime Minister and the government to resign voluntarily and pave the way for the President to appoint an interim government.