The United National Party (UNP) parliamentary group agreed yesterday to cede the government to newly-elected President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on condition that general election is conducted only after February, a party official said.
Public Enterprise Development Minister Lakshman Kiriella told Daily Mirror that Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe would discuss the matter with the other side today as agreed at the group meeting. "We are ready to cede the government, but we are ready to have elections only after February," he said.
Meanwhile, Minister Vajira Abeywardena said the UNP parliamentary group that met yesterday had discussed presenting a resolution to dissolve parliament and to go for a snap election respecting the will of the people.
Addressing the media after the group meeting at the parliamentary complex, he told journalists that there was a general agreement to go for a snap general election.
“We focused on convening parliament immediately and then bringing in a resolution to go for a snap election. There were a few issues with regard to MPs pensions but these matters could be resolved in the resolution,” he said, adding that the matter would be discussed with the President.
Meanwhile, Non-Cabinet Minister Sujeewa Senasinghe said many MPs were of the opinion that the government should be handed over to SLPP. Many wanted changes in the UNP as well, he said.
“Many suggested that the group should sit in the opposition but it was not possible to arrive at a final decision. However, everyone agreed that the final decision is made on the matters shortly,” he said.
MP Hirunika Premachandra said all options including holding on till February next year until a general election was held, going for a snap general election and handing over the reins to SLPP were focused at yesterday’s discussion. “A final decision on the matter will be made on Wednesday after a discussion with UNP allies,” she said.
She was of the opinion that there should be changes in the UNP and that she personally felt former Deputy Leader Sajith Premadasa should lead the party.
However, the MPs said matters with regard to the party would be addressed after those with regard to the government were resolved. (Yohan Perera and Kelum Bandara)