The President has the authority to call for a non-binding referendum on whether the people prefer a general election prior to a presidential election but the President will not be able to dissolve Parliament based on such a referendum, SLFP General Secretary and MP Dayasiri Jayasekara said.
He said the only option available for a snap early general election, before the completion of four and half years, is by way of resolution in Parliament approved by a two-thirds majority.
The MP said the new President elected at the November or December presidential election could if necessary dissolve current parliament any time after February 2020.
“I don’t understand why the JO members are now agitating for a presidential election when they earlier campaign for a general election first,” he said.
The MP said Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa, who also heads the SLPP would have no choice other than to nominate incumbent President Maithripala Sirisena as the presidential candidate of an SLFP-SLPP alliance because it is only a common candidate from the two-party alliance could win at the forthcoming presidential polls.
He said the winning candidate must secure a minimum of 6.5 million plus votes to win the presidency.
“In 2015, the common candidate secured 6.2 million votes. If you consider the February 2018 local government polls, the SLPP received five million votes, the SLFP-led UPFA obtained 1.4 million votes and the UNP 3.6 million. This clearly shows that only an SLPP-SLFP alliance could garner the necessary number of votes to win,” the MP said. "Victory is impossible if we depend on a family to decide our political future. Who can guarantee that if Gotabaya won the presidency the Cabinet and Parliament will not be filled with Rajapaksas? Under Gotabaya, except for Mahinda, all other Rajapaksas such as Chamal, Basil, Namal, Shashendra and even Nirupama will get cabinet posts. Who wants such a scenario."
Responding to a journalist he said Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s name has taken a back seat while Basil’s and Chamal’s names were in the forefront as presidential candidates.
To another question, the MP said a section of the SLPP and the SLFP fell into the trap set by the government by appointing a select committee to probe allegations levelled against Minister Rishad Bathiudeen.
“The government moved an additional motion empowering the committee to probe the Easter Sunday terror attack. It turned out to be a political witch hunt to embarrass the President by exposing state intelligence information,” he said. (Sandun A Jayasekera)