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Welgama says it was he who first got the ball rolling against Gotabaya



… claims Sirisena tells lies

SJB Kalutara District MP Kumar Welgama told Parliament yesterday that it was he who HAD first said ‘Gota, go home’ and now the entire country was saying so.

“When Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s name was proposed as the presidential candidate, I openly opposed it.

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, too, was there when I raised objections.

I said that Gotabaya Rajapaksa had no political experience and had never been at least a Pradeshiya Sabha member, and therefore a senior member of the party had to be nominated as the presidential candidate.

Mahinda Rajapaksa did not listen to me because he wanted to give that position to a member of his family. Due to that wrong decision, the entire country is in turmoil. Here are some of those who had been there opposing me. Vasudeva Nanayakkara, too, had the same opposition for about two weeks. Mahinda Rajapaksa could change his mind but could not change my mind.

When our party was revived with the Mahinda Sulanga programme, it was Prasanna Ranatunga. Wimal Weerawansa, Vasudeva Nanayakkara, Dinesh Gunawardena and Udaya Gammanpila who led that campaign which we supported; even Gamini Lokuge and Bandula Gunawardane were there.

I can remember how the then President Maithripala Sirisena ordered that none of the SLFP members should join that the Nugegoda rally. But we defied that order to bring in Mahinda Rajapaksa back to power. We thought that he would not bring back his family members again. We even told him not to do so. But he did not listen to us.

I have no opposition to the PM getting Namal Rajapaksa involved. But there were others who should not have been brought into top positions.

Therefore, former President Mahinda Rajapaksa should be held responsible for the current mess. We have been with Mahinda Rajapaksa for 40 years in politics. I regret what has happened.

“The other thing I have to tell you all is that Maithripala Sirisena tells lies.”

He utters only lies. For example, today he says that he brought in the 19th Amendment. When the 20th Amendment was put to the vote, he got his MPs to vote for it.

He did not come to the House on that day but got his MPs to help ensure its passage. This country and its people are suffering today because of the lies that have been propagated. Besides, the country is troubled by a curse––the Easter Sunday terror attacks You cannot escape from that curse. The entire country is paying for that crime.

We worked for Mahinda Rajapaksa because he served this country from 2005 to 2010. In 2010 those who were around him made him think he was a king. Thereafter the downfall started. First thing to do after that was the incarceration of Sarath Fonseka. Today, the people demand that Rajapaksas too should be put in jail,” MP Welgama said.

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SJB alleges Prez under SLPP pressure to give up power to dissolve Parliament



By Shamindra Ferdinando

Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) lawmaker Nalin Bandara Jayamaha yesterday alleged that President Ranil Wickremesinghe was under tremendous pressure from the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) to give up power to dissolve Parliament, two and a half years after the parliamentary election.

Kurunegala District MP Jayamaha said that the SLPP wanted the provision, pertaining to dissolution of Parliament in the 19A, included in the 22nd Amendment, at the committee stage.

In terms of the 19th Amendment enacted in 2015, the President couldn’t dissolve Parliament until the completion of four and a half years of the term of a government. The last parliamentary poll was conducted in August 2020.

Having overwhelmingly voted for UNP leader Wickremesinghe at the Presidential contest on July 20 to complete the remainder of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s term, the SLPP was now seeking full control, lawmaker Bandara asserted.

The SJB official, however, acknowledged that their party, too, had been divided on the issue, with those who backed Dullas Alahapperuma, at the Presidential contest, opposing the move.

Wickremesinghe received 133 votes. Of the 145 SLPP votes, except for its rebel group, the rest voted for Wickremesinghe.

Responding to another question, the former UNPer said that some interested parties thwarted SLPP founder Basil Rajapaksa from leaving the country, soon after President Gotabaya Rajapaksa abandoned the President’s House. That appeared to have backfired, MP Bandara said, alleging Basil Rajapaksa seemed to be running the show.

Asked whether more members of the SJB would soon switch their allegiance to President Wickremesinghe, MP Bandara said that he couldn’t predict what the individual members were likely to do. However, the SJB, the second largest group in Parliament wouldn’t join the government, MP Bandara said.

Of the 54 elected and appointed SJB members, so far two – Manusha Nanayakkara and Harin Fernando – have accepted ministerial portfolios. SJB National List MP Diana Gamage, earlier pledged her support to the SLPP.

Lawmaker Bandara said that the SLPP seemed to be quite confident of regaining full political authority, regardless of the recent setbacks suffered. The former Law and Order Deputy Minister said that the SLPP was bent on pursuing its strategy, though the President, elected by the party, fled the country.

The SJB MP said that the move to create an environment, conducive for crossovers for the personal benefit of lawmakers, should be condemned. The provisions, pertaining to the appointment of the Cabinet-of-Ministers, under the proposed 22 Amendment, in case the party with the largest block of seats reached a consensus with other parties, were meant to appoint a jumbo sized Cabinet, the MP said. The SJB official questioned the rationale in giving Parliament the authority to decide on the number of Cabinet ministers and non-Cabinet members, in case of a National Government.

Lawmaker Bandara said that President Wickremesinghe and the SLPP were yet to come up with tangible action plan to address political or economic issues. The MP warned, what he called the Wickremesinghe-Rajapaksa government, that the public here, and the international community, couldn’t be deceived by calling itself a National Government.

The SJB spokesperson said that they wouldn’t contribute, or facilitate, the Wickremesinghe-Rajapaksa ploy by accepting ministerial portfolios. “We won’t legitimize the government project. How can the SLPP still be acceptable, after the public rejected Gotabaya Rajapaksa, elected by them,” MP Bandara said, adding the SLPP seemed to have conveniently forgotten that the public rejected the ministers, along with their highly overrated President.

The outspoken MP said that it would be a grave mistake, on the SLPP’s part, if its leadership believed the unprecedented crisis, caused by them, could be resolved by getting rid of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

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22 A: Karu J, too, makes some suggestions



Chairman of the National Movement for Social Justice, Karu Jayasuriya, said that fears expressed by members of Parliament, and others, over the provisions, pertaining to the appointment of Cabinet of Ministers, were not unfounded.

The former Speaker said that he was also concerned about allegations that the proposed 22 A could be abused and exploited to appoint a jumbo Cabinet.

Jayasuriya suggested that political parties, represented in Parliament, and other interested parties should address whatever concerns raised as regards the 22 Amendment.

The yahapalana Speaker said that the success of the whole process would depend on the readiness of all those involved in the new constitution making endeavor to address issues at hand. The accusation that a particular provision (47 [4]) could be used to violate the restriction of cabinet ministers to 30 and no-cabinet members to 40 couldn’t be ignored, Jayasuriya said.

Jayasuriya said that those who represented the parliament should inquire into criticism over the Speaker receiving an opportunity to nominate three civil society members to the 10-member Constitutional Council in consultation with the Prime Minister and the Opposition Leader. The former Gampaha District MP recalled that in terms of the 19 Amendment, the Prime Minister and the Opposition Leader used to nominate the civil society members. Jayasuriya said that whatever knotty issues could be tackled at the committee stage (SF)

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“Govt workers, too, were involved in fuel hoarding”



It had become obvious that some government workers, too, were involved in hoarding fuel and selling it in the black market, D.V Shantha Silva, joint Secretary the Sri Lanka Petroleum Private Tanker Owners’ Association (SLPPTOA) said yesterday, addressing the media.

He said that the introduction of the national fuel pass system is successful and the majority of fuel stations followed the system.

“Some gas stations still try to manipulate the system but it won’t be easy,” he said.

There is no congestion in gas stations and SLPPTOA members are happy with the process, he said.

“However, there is a drop in orders from gas stations. In the last few months, before the QR system, one tanker load was only enough for a few hours. But now gas stations pump fuel for days with one shipment,” he said.

Silva said that many people tried to blame three-wheeler drivers for hoarding fuel. However, there were other actors involved in the racket, among them were government officials.

“Before the QR system we saw a large number of people at gas stations each morning accessing fuel using various passes. Now that doesn’t happen and there is no congestion,” he said. (RK)

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