Will contest only with pro-abolition forces
- Will do so only with the blessings of the UNP
- Many have requested me to enter the fray
By Yohan Perera and Ajith Siriwardana
Speaker Karu Jayasuriya said yesterday he would consider contesting the forthcoming presidential election only with the support of political forces which had since 1995 consistently stood for the abolition of the executive presidency.
He said he would also do so together with those who stood for democratic reforms introduced by the 17th Amendment and further strengthened by the 19the Amendment to the Constitution.
Issuing a statement the Speaker said there were many who had requested him to contest for the presidency. “Some met me personally and made the request, some others did it over the phone and a few others made the request at news conferences,” he said.
The Speaker said the main objective that was highlighted by them was that the country needs a trusted leadership to safeguard democracy and overcome the current political confusion and establish a civilized society.
He said if he decided to contest the presidential election, it would merely be for a limited period with the intention of laying the foundation for an economically and morally strong country with democratic values. The Speaker said he would contest only if he received the blessings of the UNP and its allies and within the party’s constitutional framework.
Some met me personally and made the request, some others did it over the phone and a few others made the request at news conferences
No scientific survey on maintaining or abolishing presidency
- Will not remain clinging to posts like an octopus
By Yohan Perera
Minister Sajith Premadasa said yesterday there had been no scientific survey done on the maintainability or the abolition of the executive presidency and his personal views on the matter were of little or no value.
He told a news conference held at the official residence of Minister Mangala Samaraweera that he was willing to listen to the people of the country and it was their decision. “My views are based on people’s views and opinions. I have no monopoly on articulating and formulating policy,” Minister Premadasa said.
When told by a journalist that it sounded ‘wishy-washy’, he said though it may sound ‘wishy-washy’ to the journalist it sounded ‘very coherent’ to him.
“As far as the executive presidency is concerned we made a pledge in 2015 and certain drastic steps were taken to reduce the powers of the presidency. Right now we are in the process of discussing and consulting as to where the presidency should be placed. Whether it should be maintained or whether it should be abolished,” the minister said. “Everyone is coming up with their personal ideas and trying to place them at the highest position in the national political agenda. If I may say so. Some of the surveys that I have seen prioritizes the cost of living as the most important subject in the national political agenda,” he said.
Then the journalist asked: “But then where is the leadership? You are supposed to give leadership.”
The minister said, “I am willing to give democratic leadership, not autocratic leadership. For your information, I don’t want to become an elected dictatorship to coin a word by Lord Hailsham.”
He said if the people made a request that I was not suitable for politics and should retire then I would not remain clinging to things like an octopus.
“If the people tell me to go home today. I will go home tomorrow. I will not cease to exist without politics. This is not something I cannot do without. But I must clearly say and believe that I am on top of the programme to do a dedicated, people-friendly and progressive work for the people. The only thing I give priority to is public opinion,” the minister said.
Minister Premadasa was flanked by Ministers Mangala Samaraweera, Malik Samarawickrema, Kabir Hashim, Ranjith Madduma Bandara and Chandrani Bandara.
He suggested calling for a vote to choose the party’s candidate for the presidency if necessary and in such an event he would accept whatever the result may be and requested the party leadership to convene a UNP working committee and the parliamentary group so that a candidate could be chosen through a consensus or through an alternative method which should be transparent.
“I have already informed the party leadership in writing of my desire to contest the presidential election from the UNP and to convene the working committee and the parliamentary group without delay,” the minister said. “I will abide by the result whatever it may be and do not intend creating a political monopoly and I am prepared to be fair where other potential candidates are concerned,” the minsiter said.
As far as the executive presidency is concerned we made a pledge in 2015 and certain drastic steps were taken to reduce the powers of the presidency
Mandate given by the people in 2015 to abolish the executive presidency is outdated now, UNP Deputy Leader and presidential hopeful Sajith Premadasa said yesterday.