Colombo, Apr 10 (PTI) President Maithripala Sirisena’s Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) ministers today boycotted a Cabinet meeting, days after they voted in favour of a no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.
Senior ministers Sajith Premadasa and Gamini Jayawickrama Perera said none of the SLFP ministers were present at the Cabinet meeting this morning.
The SLFP ministers’ move came after the party’s central committee meeting last night held under Sirisena’s chair.
It was decided that the six ministers who had voted in favour of the no-confidence motion against the prime minister should stay away from the Cabinet until a decision is made on the SLFP’s continuation as part of the unity government with Wickremesinghe’s United National Party (UNP).
“We wanted to leave the government but we can’t decide until the party decides on it,” said Anura Yapa, the Disaster Management Minister.
Yapa was one of those who voted in favour of the no-confidence motion. Yapa added that a firm decision on SLFP’s future in the government would be made soon.
Wickremesinghe early this month comfortably defeated the no-trust motion moved by the Joint Opposition against him.
Wickremesinghe, who leads the national unity government in alliance with President Sirisena’s SLFP, received 122 votes against the motion while 76 favoured the motion to oust him.
The UNP has been demanding the sacking of the six SLFP ministers to which Sirisena has not responded favourably. It is Sirisena who wields powers to appoint and sack ministers.
“When they challenged the prime minister, they have no moral ground to remain in the Cabinet,” said Akila Viraj Kariyawasam, the Minister of Education.
Sirisena has denied any role in the no-confidence motion against Wickremesinghe but he had demanded the premier’s resignation after the unity government’s parties lost the local council elections to former president Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Sri Lanka People’s Front in February.
The Rajapaksa faction, who are opposed to both Sirisena and Wickremesinghe, is pressing for a snap parliamentary polls.
“Now, the romance is lost. It is time for the divorce,” said Rajapaksa’s son Namal, an opposition legislator, commenting on differences between the ruling alliance partners.
Sirisena in 2015 quit the then Rajapaksa government to join hands with Wickremesinghe, the then main opposition leader, to defeat Rajapaksa in the presidential election ending his 10-year rule.
Wickremesinghe was recently replaced as law and order minister after clashes erupted in the Kandy district.
The president has also removed key institutions, including the Central Bank, from the control of Wickremesinghe.
This is published unedited from the PTI feed.