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I will abide by the Constitution - PM

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday said the coalition government will continue to take forward the January 8, 2015 mandate with several political,fiscal and party reforms to follow, while accepting the peoples’ verdict during last week’s Local Government (LG) elections.

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 programme of the government with an impending cabinet reshuffle,” he said.

He said the mid-term LG polls were a good barometer for the government to check the pulse of the people. “It is a warning conveyed by voters and we would initiate reforms accordingly.”

Speaking to journalists at Temple Trees last afternoon, he said he had a round of discussions with President Maithripala Sirisena after the election and will have another discussion next week. “Working within a coalition government is a difficult task; however, we will work according to the Constitution.”

He attributed the political setback at LG polls to economic issues, and delays in taking legal action against former president Mahinda Rajapaksa and family and the regime accused of corruption. “The food prices escalated as a result of the hampered economic growth-owing to natural disasters, both floods and drought within the last two years.

Explaining the actions taken against the previous regime, he said, “We have taken legal action against Mahinda Rajapaksa’s family and the regime and 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 procedure, especially over the last two months.” Since the coalition government was formed, the Prime Minister said he or the President have not put any pressure on the officials to save any individual.

Answering a question on his association with Mahinda Rajapaksa, the PM said, he has no barrier to talk to anyone, or any MP and that applies to Rajapaksa as well,admitting that the former President spoke to him over the phone last Monday to clarify some of the political rumours.

Talking about the future of his party, the Prime Minister said his party – UNP - will go through some major changes with an emerging young group of MPs being groomed to take the 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 in the country.”

Further he added, the 2018 LG polls was an experiment.

“As a result, there are lot of hung councils. We are currently analysing the shortcomings so that we can take corrective measures and improve the system in future elections.”