Colombo: Likening Sri Lankan president Maithripala Sirisena to Adolf Hitler, the country's toppled prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe Tuesday said he was not afraid of snap polls but was against the use of referendums by "dictators". Sri Lanka has been going through a major political crisis since 26 October when President Sirisena, in a controversial move, removed Wickremesinghe and installed ex-strongman Mahinda Rajapaksa in his place.
The president later dissolved parliament and called for a snap election on 5 January. However, the Supreme Court overturned Sirisena's decision to dissolve parliament and halted the preparations for snap polls. On Monday a lower court temporarily barred Sirisena-appointed prime minister Rajapaksa from performing his duties. In his strongest yet statement against the president, the United National Party (UNP) leader said the United National Front (UNF) was prepared to face elections and they are "not afraid of elections."
Speaking from Temple Trees, the official residence of the Sri Lankan Prime Minister, which he has refused to vacate since his sacking, Wickremesinghe said, "All of us who are here in government, has taken an oath to defend the constitution. "So we want them to defend the constitution... Follow the constitution. "Don't be like Hitler and some of the other dictators who used the referendum," Wickremesinghe was quoted as saying by Sri Lanka Mirror.
"As far as the elections are concerned, we have only two concerns. First, it must be a lawful government. And only the UNF and I can command that majority. Secondly, all the parties must come to a consensus on the date of elections," he said. "Those who talk of having elections without according to the constitution are people who don't want elections. They are hiding under the cover of elections to try and hang on to the office..."
Wickremesinghe said that the UNF is not prepared to bypass the constitution under any circumstances. "A legal government can submit a motion to parliament and if there is 2/3rd majority we can hold an election before the 4 1/2 year term of the current parliament ends," he was quoted as saying by Colombo Gazette. He said the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) has already said that it is prepared to face early elections.
Wickremesinghe said that if everyone wants an early election there is no need for the UNF to oppose it. Though Rajapaksa was made the prime minister in October, he has not been able to prove his majority in 225-member parliament. Ousted prime minister Wickremesinghe has the backing of 122 parliamentarians. Lawmakers of Wickeremesinghe's UNP, JVP and Tamil National Alliance last month filed a petition in the Court of Appeal challenging Rajapaksa's authority as the prime minister. The final verdict is expected on 14 December.
Updated Date: Dec 04, 2018 22:18:32 IST