Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has expressed confidence that the two major parties, the United National Party (UNP) and the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), will continue their National Unity or consensus government after the February 10 elections to 341 local councils, despite the recent turmoil in the government that shows it to be otherwise.
The UNP and the SLFP are contesting separately at the elections to the Municipal, Urban and Pradeshiya Sabhas and there has been widespread speculation over what will happen after the local polls.
But the Prime Minister, in a rare 90-minute interview with state television Rupavahini on Wednesday night said the two parties would continue their alliance till at least 2020 or even 2025.
There is speculation about a possible UNP-SLFP alliance in the local councils where no party has a clear majority but the Premier made no comment about this. He said the trust and cooperation between him and President Maithripala Sirisena was as strong as it was when they formed the coalition for the presidential election on January 8, 2015. Questioned about issues ranging from socio-economic policy and the battle against corruption, the Prime Minister said he was cooperating with the President in the crusade for clean politics and in the intensified moves to bring to justice politicians or officials who had allegedly plundered public funds.
Referring to the Presidential Commission which probed the Central Bank bond issues from February 2015 to March 2016, the Prime Minister insisted that the Commission’s lengthy report clearly pointed out that he was not involved in any wrongdoing though some joint opposition leaders are calling for his resignation and threatening to move a motion of no-confidence against him. The Prime Minister said he and the President had a similar policy regarding the prosecution and the recovery of money from those who were alleged to have plundered billions, whatever party they belonged to and whatever rank they held.
The Bond Commission has recommended that action be taken against some UNP members. The Prime Minister said he and the party were cooperating with the President in this action. Similarly the two party leaders and other members were working together in expediting some 34 cases spotlighted by the Presidential Commission appointed earlier to probe serious cases of corruption fraud and the abuse of state privileges or resources.
Since January 2015, the Prime Minister said the President and he with leading members of the two parties had worked to get the fundamentals right and build a foundation for the Vision 2025 economic development strategy where the policies were sustainable, eco-friendly and all-inclusive.
The Prime Minister also rejected charges that the country was being virtually sold to foreigners. He pointed out that the Hambantota harbour project, being worked out with a big Chinese company, was now bringing in plenty of ships while development zones being set up in the Hambantota district and surrounding areas were providing thousands of productive jobs for young people in rural areas. He expressed confidence that the people would soon see similar results from the new Mattala Airport project, the Trincomalee oil farm project and other big development schemes being launched with the assistance of foreign companies or governments or as public-private partnerships.