Expect further shameless coalitions calling each other thieves and traitors
When the allegations that a fraud running into billions of rupees in the process of a Central Bank bond sale in February 2015 was first levelled by Opposition Parliamentarians, the United National Party (UNP) would not have thought that the issue would have the potential of deciding its fate.
Therefore, they denied the allegation and defended those who were accused of the fraud, even writing books on the matter.
However, the bond scam turned out to be the main cause for the humiliating defeat of the UNP at the recent Local Government Elections, the first test of its popularity, three years after it came to office in 2015.
The party lost about a staggering 1.5 million votes, though they seem to have been drifted towards its partner in Governance, the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) led by President Maithripala Sirisena and not towards the Opposition.
It is the numbers game that is going to decide the veracity and the validity of the motion
The infighting of the UNP is the direct result of the election defeat
From a moral perspective, the UNP, SLFP and SLPP are in a difficult situation.
The election defeat of the UNP, the main party in the ruling coalition seems to effect a chain reaction at the forthcoming Provincial Council Elections and the two national elections-the Presidential and Parliamentary elections -scheduled to be held in 2020.
The fighting within the UNP and between the two coalition partners of the Government is likely to prevent the possibility, if any, of reversing the trend.
The infighting of the UNP is the direct result of the election defeat of the party, which has also aggravated the already simmering bickering between the two parties in the ruling coalition.
The 19th Amendment has redefined the powers and functions of the President and the Prime Minister but is silent on the removal of the Prime Minister by the President…
The situation came to a head when President Sirisena reportedly called for the resignation of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, who is also the leader of the UNP, in the wake of the Local Government Elections last month.
He even said to have sought the opinion of the Attorney General on the possibility of dismissing the Prime Minister.
The Joint Opposition, while demanding the removal of the Prime Minister, argued that the President had the power to do so.
The 19th Amendment to the Constitution brought in by the present Government in April 2015 has redefined the powers and functions of the President and the Prime Minister but is silent on the removal of the Prime Minister by the President, in spite of it referring to “Removal from office or resignation of the Prime Minister” and “Prime Minister ceasing to hold office by death, resignation or otherwise.”
The President has been at odds with the UNP since last year on the grounds that the latter has been seen as delaying or stalling the high profile corruption cases against the leaders of the Rajapaksa regime and later over the Central Bank bond scam on which he appointed a Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI).
The fighting within the UNP and between the two coalition partners of the Government is likely to prevent the possibility, if any, of reversing the trend
Apart from the Joint Opposition attacking the UNP over the bond scam, the President himself launched a scathing attack on his coalition partner during the local council elections. This, some say, along with the retaliation by the UNP was another factor that contributed to the poor show by the two main parties in the government in the local elections.
After weighing up several options of alternative alignments of political parties, in order to get rid of the Prime Minister in the aftermath of the Local Government Elections, President Sirisena and the SLFP succumbed to the situation and agreed to put up with the so-called National Unity Government with the UNP, led by the same Prime Minister.
It is against this backdrop that the Joint Opposition had handed over the No-Confidence Motion against wthe Prime Minister to Speaker Karu Jayasuriya last week.
UNP, in a moral point of view, would find it difficult to face the motion as the acts and omissions by the party and the Prime Minister, in respect of the bond fraud, are the main allegations contained in it.
Startling revelations have already been made during the proceedings of the Presidential Commission on the bond scam and two powerful figures in the bond market Arjun Aloysius and Kasun Palisena have been arrested, while the former Governor of the Central Bank and the father-in-law of Aloysius, Arjuna Mahendran seems to be evading possible arrest.
The debate over the No-Confidence Motion is most likely to be a continuation of the last month’s Parliamentary debate over the reports of the Bond Commission
It is a tight spot for the UNP. However, they would attempt to shield them with the allegations of large-scale corruption against the former Government during the debate on the No-Confidence Motion.
From a moral perspective, not only the UNP but also the SLFP and the SLPP, the party that has presented the motion are in a difficult situation.
President Sirisena and the other leaders of the SLFP, who wanted to remove Ranil Wickremesinghe from the post of Prime Minister a month ago on the same allegations, cannot now defend the same person.
On the other hand, they also have to justify their decision to continue with the so-called Unity Government, after their failed attempt to oust Wickremesinghe.
They cannot absolve their responsibility in the bond issue as the Constitution requires them to hold the collective responsibility as a Cabinet.
Also, it was the President, in spite of him acting in consultation with the Prime Minister, who brought the Central Bank under the purview of the latter, an allegation contained in the No-Confidence Motion.
It was President, who technically appointed Mahendran, again in consultation with the Premier, as the Governor of the Central Bank, another allegation in the motion.
The continuation of the SLFP Ministers to be the members of the Cabinet would be further difficult if the No-Confidence Motion is defeated.
Nevertheless, they might use that situation to curry favour with their former boss, Mahinda Rajapaksa, in the light of unfolding trend in the aftermath of the Local Government Elections.
Therefore they would continue with their silent approval of the corruption committed during the last Government in spite of the UNP and the JVP dragging those incidents into the debate on the No-Confidence Motion.
Despite the leaders of the SLPP hoping to hold the moral high ground through the No-Confidence Motion, their credence is also at stake.
They have failed to prove, beyond doubt their credibility in respect of high profile corruption cases involving Avant Garde company, Hedging transaction, Greek Bond transaction to name a few.
Besides, already, there are court cases against Namal Rajapaksa, Yoshitha Rajapaksa, Mahindananda Aluthgamage, Wimal Weerawansa, among others over their assets.
The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) had first said that it would support the motion only if the allegations against the leaders of the previous regime are also included in the motion.
But now they have decided to support the motion, while stating that they would bring in an amendment, apparently to include the allegations against the former regime, during the debate on the motion. Therefore the debate over the No-Confidence Motion is most likely to be a continuation of the last month’s Parliamentary debate over the reports of the Bond Commission and the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into serious acts of Fraud, Corruption and Abuse of Power (PRECIFAC) which investigated into the corruption charges against the leaders of the
Nevertheless, it is the numbers game that is going to decide the veracity and the validity of the motion and not the merit of the allegations contained in it.
Thus, the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) turning to be the decisive factor seems to be inevitable, unless a considerable number of UNP members vote for it, as State Minister Range Bandara predicts. There is a possibility of the same numbers deciding the Government after the motion is disposed of as well.
The SLPP coming to power soon after the motion is disposed of is a remote possibility unless Range Bandara’s prediction comes true.
Since Parliament cannot be dissolved prematurely “until the expiration of a period of not less than four years and six months” from the date of the first meeting of it, one would witness, after disposal of the No-Confidence Motion further shameless coalitions with parties running the Government calling each other thieves and traitors.