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WE WILL LEAVE GOVT, IF PRESIDENT SAYS - DILAN

SLFPers who voted in favour of the No-Confidence Motion (NCM) met President Maithripala Sirisena yesterday to convey the message that they would leave the government on his terms and not according to the demands of the UNP.

The official stance was to vote in favour, State Minister Dilan Perera said addressing a media briefing with Ministers Chandima Weerakkody and Dayasiri Jayasekara at SLFP Headquarters yesterday. It followed a similar media briefing held earlier that day by Ministers Mahinda Samarasinghe, Vijith Vijithamuni Soysa and Ranjith Siyambalapitiya, who had all abstained at the vote.

“We had all agreed to ask the Prime Minister to resign and when we met him and Minister John Amaratunge said that the UNP was of the opinion that the PM should stay. So we met our Parliamentary group once again and decided to vote in favour”, State Minister Perera said.

“Samarasinghe and Soysa were not even present at the meeting at Mahinda Amaraweera’s house when we decided to vote for the NCM, added Perera.Amaraweeera in the meantime was absent when the vote was taken,”Perera said.

“This NCM was about the bond issue and the SLFP has always been of the stance that this deal was corrupt. Mahinda Amaraweera was the first to lodge a complaint against it. So there was a general consensus and demand from the people that action needs to be taken”, Minister Jayasekara said at the briefing.

He said the number 122 was not a great victory, as 103 were still opposed to it.

Moving forward, the SLFP, according to him would work within the unity government only under certain conditions, “We will not betray the party’s identity and principles”.

The Minister further observed that it was the President who was the head of cabinet and government and it was only he who had the power to remove or appoint ministers.

He stressed that the SLFP would stand firm on its principles and identity and would not bow down to the whims of the UNP, “We did not come here to be buried with the UNP”.

The Ministers stressed that whilst there was a difference in opinion with regard to the NCM, they all stood firm on the premise that all in the party would work together to take forward the party’s agenda, “We don’t have a split”, the Sports Minister said.

The two groups had also agreed on the principle that it was not ethical for the President as the head of the government to be involved in the NCM, “The President was not involved”, they both reiterated.

The Skills Development and Vocational Training Minister Weerakkody further observed that their vote in favour of the NCM had won them more public support, “We have nothing personal against the Prime Minister. We had to make this decision for the greater good. We were ready to give up our posts when we voted”, he said.

When asked what the President told them when they met, Perera said, “The President was happy to see us, perhaps he thought that at least 16 SLFPers have a spine in this government”.