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Wimal sticks to his guns, continues to demand top position for GR in SLPP



Leadership change not anticipated, ready to face probe on alleged foreign intelligence links

By Shamindra Ferdinando

National Freedom Party (NFF) leader Wimal Weerawansa, MP, has reiterated the urgent need to create a suitable top level position for President Gotabaya Rajapaksa in the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP).

The NFF parliamentary group in the SLPP consists of six lawmakers.

Minister Weerawansa emphasised that the NFF’s stand as regards the SLPP didn’t in any way mean Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa’s role as the leader of the party wasn’t required.

Lawmaker Weerawansa said so outside the Negombo court complex yesterday (9). The Minister was responding to media queries whether he would apologize for publicly calling for President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to be given an opportunity to directly work with the SLPP.

Gotabaya Rajapaksa received the SLPP nomination at the 2019 Nov presidential election though he was never a member of that party.

Minister Weerawansa emphasized President Gotabaya Rajapaksa would be able to liaise with other political forces if he received a high position in the party, while Premier Mahinda Rajapaksa remained the leader. The former JVP heavyweight said that the NFF’s proposal would be equally good for the government as well as the country.

SLPP General Secretary and one-time State Counsel Sagara Kariyawasam, MP, strongly criticized Weerawansa for intervening in SLPP affairs. National List MP Kariyawasam questioned the NFF leader’s right to suggest leadership change.

Minister Weerawansa insisted that he never called for leadership change but a suitable arrangement for President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to work closely with other political parties.

Minister Weerawansa said that he was not worried about criticism directed at him by newcomers to parliamentary politics. Weerawansa was referring to statements issued by lawmakers Sagara Kariyawasam and Kalutara District MP Sanjiva Edirimanna.

Responding to SLPP Administrative Secretary Renuka Perera’s accusations that NFF members namely two medical doctors were on the payroll of foreign intelligence services, Minister Weerawansa urged President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to direct the IGP to initiate an inquiry after having recorded statements of the accusers. Minister Weerawansa emphasized that there was absolutely no basis for such accusations.

Weerawansa explained how he campaigned for Mahinda Rajapaksa’s victory at the 2005 presidential election much to the discomfort of his then JVP colleagues, quit the JVP in 2008 to throw his weight behind President Mahinda Rajapaksa amidst efforts made by the JVP to sabotage the war effort, spearheading the high profile ‘Mahinda Sulanga’ campaign in the wake of presidential polls defeat in 2015 and promoting Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s candidature at the 2019 presidential poll. Minister Weerawansa said if the SLPP wanted him to apologize for those above decisions of his he would gladly do so.

Minister Weerawansa emphasized that the SLPP’s stand that constituents had no right to comment on the main party wasn’t acceptable. Weerawansa questioned if that was the case how could they have commented on the UNP, JVP and other political parties.



President requests the opposition to support the implementation of the IMF agreement




President Ranil Wickremesinghe urged the Opposition to unite and disregard political differences to assist in carrying out the IMF agreement, which would aid in the development of Sri Lanka’s economy.

The President emphasized that his duty is not to condemn previous administrations but to concentrate on the development of the country. He also declared his dedication to constructing a better future by creating laws and frameworks that prevent the recurrence of past errors.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe delivered this message in a special address to Parliament this morning (22) regarding the receipt of the Extended Credit Facility from the International Monetary Fund.

He stated that despite allegations being leveled against him that his objective was not to rescue the country from an economic crisis but to safeguard the Rajapaksa family, the international community had acknowledged his efforts to carry the country across the economic vine bridge.

The President further said that he had faith in rebuilding the beloved country where he was born, brought up and educated, and said that many past experiences were the reasons for confirming that faith.

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SJB, JVP move SC against Finance Secy. for contempt of court



The main Opposition, Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB), and the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) yesterday (21) moved Supreme Court against Treasury Secretary Mahinda Siriwardana over his failure to provide funds required by the Election Commission to conduct the Local Government polls, ignoring an interim order issued by the apex court, on 03 March.

Ranjith Madduma Bandara, MP, is the petitioner for the SJB and Vijitha Herath, MP, moved court on behalf of the JVP, the leading party in the Jathika Jana Balawegaya (JJB).

Two Opposition parties declared action against Siriwardana the day after the Freedom People’s Alliance (FPA) issued a seven-day ultimatum to the Finance Secretary to release the funds.

EC Chairman Nimal Punchihewa is on record as having said that in spite of SC directive he didn’t receive fresh funding.

The petitioners sought the issuance of summons on Siriwardana for contempt of court over failure to carry out its interim orders, given on 03 March.

The petitioners want the Finance Secretary punished in terms of Article 105 (3) of the Constitution.

The SJB stated that Siriwardana had refrained from carrying out the March directives, on the basis of a Cabinet decision, taken on 13 Feb., 2023. The SJB also pointed out that the offensive conduct of the Treasury Secretary, inter alia, causes grave prejudice to the esteemed authority of the Supreme Court and in turn disturb the public confidence in the authority of the highest Court in the country. (SF)

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Minister indicates reduction in fuel prices in April



Power and Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekara told Parliament yesterday that fuel prices would be reduced considerably according to the fuel price formula at the next fuel price revision, due in April.

The Minister said that the government would be able to procure fuel shipments, at lower prices, during competitive bidding, with the receipt of the IMF bailout.

There had been practical issues, and problems, in opening Letters of Credit, and obtaining credit facilities, in the recent past, as Sri Lanka could not give a guarantee to fuel suppliers, Minister Wijesekara said.

“We could not open LCs and obtain credit facilities when procuring fuel. After the IMF bailout, we will be able to procure fuel at lower prices during competitive biddings. We will be able to obtain a long-term credit facility as well. Fuel prices in the global market seem to have declined and the rupee has also gained strength against the US Dollar. Having considered all these factors, fuel prices will be reduced by a considerable margin which could be felt by the people,” he said.

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