Of the two crises that had engulfed the country for 50 days since October 26, the Constitutional deadlock is over, but not the political crisis. We cannot give credit to the politicians for ending the Constitutional gridlock since they had been intransigent on their stances until the Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that the dissolution of Parliament by President Maithripala Sirisena was unconstitutional.
The political crisis that had been intertwined with the Constitutional imbroglio has also somewhat eased with the resignation of Mahinda Rajapaksa as Prime Minister on Saturday and the reappointment of Ranil Wickremesinghe in place of him on Sunday.
Yet, Wickremesinghe’s strength in Parliament, the humiliation suffered by Sirisena and Rajapaksa due to the way the Constitutional crisis was ended, were harbingers of what is in store for Wickremesinghe and his weak minority government.
Especially, the speech made by President Sirisena with a least diplomacy in it after swearing in of Wickremesinghe as the Prime Minister for the third time within four years during his Presidency was a clear indication of the events and situations to come.
It was a clear message that life would not going to be easy for Wickremesinghe and his government which might be limping on the TNA crutches. And the challenge thrown by Rajapaksa on his part before his supporters at his Tangalla residence, “Carlton” on Saturday, after resigning as Prime Minister that he would topple the Wickremesinghe government cannot be treated as mere rhetoric, given the fragility of the administration Wickremesinghe is going to install.
Despite the TNA having written to President Sirisena that it would support a government formed by the UNP, it has announced that it would not be a part of the government. This is dangerous for the government as the Tamil coalition reserves the right to pull the carpet under Wickremesinghe’s feet any time it wishes.
Also TNA’s conditions for the support it is going to lend might be portrayed by the Opposition as secessionist demands, embarrassing the leaders of the government.
On the other hand, the UPFA as a party is not going to join the government as it did last time. Hence, even passage of the Budget for the year 2019 or a vote on account for a certain period in the New Year would be a difficult task for the Wickremesinghe government.
There cannot be a National Government, given the composition of the government and the support it receives from other parties to run the affairs of the country despite the UNP being the party that had won the most number of seats in the House and this would limit the size of the Cabinet.
In turn, this would lead to frustration among some sections of the UNF itself, as it didwithin the so-called probationary government (Parivasa Aanduwa) under President Chandrika Kumaratunga in 2001.
The country has already suffered a lot due to the political and Constitutional impasse that was created by the unseating of Ranil Wickremesinghe and appointing a Premier without a majority power in Parliament in October.
The struggle by the Wickremesinghe government to survive has to be carried out at the expense of the masses. The moral high ground that was gained by the UNF and thereby the Wickremesinghe administration is highly volatile given the possible predicament the masses have to undergo with the intensification of the government’s fight for survival.
Now that the rule of law has been established by the Supreme Court and thereby the dignity of those who fought for the rule of law has been restored, it is high time for the UNF leaders to ponder upon seeking a fresh composition of Parliament and a fresh mandate for them as well, through a general election, without leading to further uncertainty.