"UNP ready to seek fresh mandate from people" - Wickremesinghe
[TamilNet, Saturday, 13 December 2003, 14:52 GMT]
Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister Mr.Ranil Wickremasinghe Saturday said the Presdient has no power to take over the defense ministry according to the constitution and her action in this regard should be considered a violation of the peoples’ mandate at the last general election. “The President should work in close co-operation with the political party having a majority in the parliament,” said Mr.Wickremasinghe addressing the 49th National Convention of the United National Party, Saturday at Sugathathasa Indoor Stadium in Colombo.
Mr.Ranil Wickremasinghe further said late President J.R.Jayawardene had stressed the superiority of parliament when he (Jayawardene) proposed executive presidency in 1978.
“Legislature has a duty to take forward the peace process as it has been mandated by majority of people in 2001 December general election. Peace talks between the Liberation Tigers and UNF government began last year according to the mandate given by the people. Peace process has been currently crippled due to the take over of three key ministries including the defense by the President last month,” said Mr.Wickremasinghe.
The President has powers to dissolve the parliament and call for general election if she seeks a change in the peoples’ mandate. The UNP is prepared to go before the people seeking a fresh mandate, said Mr.Wickremasinghe.
“ My government is prepared to settle the current political crisis between him and the President through peaceful talks.
However no one can change the mandate my government had obtained at the last general election and only the people have the right to change it,” stressed Mr.Wickremasinghe.
The leader of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress and a Minister in the UNF government Mr.Rauff Hakim said his party would continue to extend its support to the ruling while working for the welfare of the Muslims in the country.
The convention adopted three resolutions. One resolution called all citizens and political parties to unite through a cohesive dialogue to establish peace and democracy in the country. The second resolution appealed to all citizens to rally round to defeat anti progressive forces. The final resolution decided to hand over the responsibilities of the National Executive Committee of the party to its working committee.
Mr.Malik Samarawickrema, Mr.Karu Jayasuriya and Mr. Senarath Kapukottuwa were elected as Chairman, Deputy Leader and General Secretary of the party respectively for the ensuing year without a contest, party sources said.