He also accused Ranil Wickremesinghe of siding with the West and undermining the interests of the country.
ven as the political deadlock continues amid protests and rallies in Sri Lanka, the Rajapaksa camp is putting up a confident front.
Speaking to India Today at his office in Colombo, Namal Rajapaksa, MP from Hambantota and son of newly sworn-in Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, said that they were confident that they had the numbers to show in the event of a no-confidence motion when the parliament convenes.
“We are very confident about that because we took the decision when we had the numbers…There will not be a no-confidence motion on the 14th but we can show the numbers if needed,” he said.
Senior officials in the current dispensation have confirmed to us that on November 14 there will not be a ‘no-confidence motion’ since it would be the day of ‘Throne’s Speech’ (as followed in UK) and so the only business for that day would be the president’s speech.
Citing the Constitution, in no unclear terms the Lankan parliamentarian said that no matter what happens Ranil Wickremesinghe will not by Prime Minister.
“Well, President Sirisena has clearly said that he will not go ahead with Ranil Wickremesinghe as Prime Minister. The constitution has given the will and mandate to the President to decide who will be the Prime Minister,” he said.
On the question of how is that the two rivals have come together to form the government, Namal Rajapaksa said that his party was looking at the interest of the nation first. He said, “National interest comes first. We might have had political differences and faced hardship but at the end of the day our principles are based on our policies.”
Accusing Ranil Wickremesinghe of siding with the West and undermining the interests of the country, he hurled barbs at the ousted PM saying, “Ranil concentrated more on western interests than on Lankan interests. He is still depending on the West and not the Sri Lankan people.”
Challenging Ranil Wickremesinghe, he asked, “If the Honourable former prime minister says his removal is unconstitutional then go to court or the people. Why is he not doing that? Let’s go for election.”
While both sides are trying to ensure they have the 113 MPs required to reach the halfway mark, one critical factor would be the Tamil votes. The Sirisena camp managed to get one out of the 16 TNA (Tamil National Alliance) MPs onto their side but the rest have resolved to vote against Mahinda Rajapaksa.
“We are willing to engage with the Tamil parties but unfortunately, they are not engaging their own Tamil community. They represent their own interest and the party’s not the Tamil community. Majority of the Tamil parties do not represent their own people. TNA as a political party does not represent the Tamil people of Sri Lanka,” said Namal accusing the Tamil leaders of looking at their own interests.
Finally, India is watching very closely the political turmoil that has grappled this island nation. Namal Rajapaksa tried to address India’s concerns regarding the belief that Mahinda is considered close to China.
“We are looking for a better future. We want India-Sri Lanka relationship to be robust and resilient. We are neighbours. Economic relationship is what matters in modern day. The relationship with China is purely based on investments,” he said.
Maithripala Sirisena, Mahinda Rajapaksa to decide on fate of Tamil prisoners in Sri Lanka ‘soon’, says PM’s son Namal
Colombo: Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa’s legislator son Namal on Sunday indicated that the long-held demand of the Tamil minority community to release all Tamil prisoners may be fulfilled soon, a move aimed at persuading the Tamil legislators to support Rajapaksa.
“President (Maithripala) Sirisena and Prime Minister Rajapaksa would make a decision (on the issue) very soon,” Namal tweeted in Tamil.
Since the war with the LTTE ended in 2009, the Sri Lankan government has denied that those imprisoned LTTE members are political prisoners. Tamils say some of the prisoners have been held over a long time under the anti-terrorism law without even being formally charged.
Namal’s comments are aimed at persuading the legislators in Sri Lanka’s main Tamil party — Tamil National Alliance (TNA) — to switch their allegiance to Rajapaksa in his bid to prove majority in the parliament.
So far Rajapaksa has 100 MPs on his side while sacked prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has 103 MPs in the 225-member assembly. Most of the 22 remaining MPs, including the TNA, are likely to oppose Rajapaksa.
Rajapaksa camp had already enticed a TNA legislator to join ranks by giving him a deputy ministerial position. The TNA’s parliamentary strength has been reduced to 15 as a result, and there was speculation that at least 4 more of them were willing to support Rajapaksa.
The TNA has said it will support a no-trust motion Rajapaksa, amid mounting pressure on President Maithripala Sirisena to let the suspended parliament hold a vote to end the ongoing political crisis. In a statement, the TNA on Saturday said Rajapaksa’s appointment was a violation of the Constitution’s 19th amendment.
The alliance had “decided to vote in favour of the no-confidence motion against Rajapaksa,” the statement said.
Rajapaksa claims he has enough numbers to prove his majority and at least six of Wickremasinghe’s men have defected to his side. The current suspension of parliament by the president is seen as a key to Rajapaksa negotiating for enough defections.
Wickremesinghe was sacked by President Sirisena on 26 October. His United National Party claims that Wickremesinghe’s sacking was “unconstitutional and illegal”. The president’s move has plunged the country into a constitutional crisis with Wickremesinghe claiming he is still the prime minister.
Namal Rajapaksa said that his father Mahinda Rajapaksa was sworn in on the President’s “invitation and wish” and that the two leaders had been in talks for months
Less than a week after what was seen as an abrupt move by the Sri Lankan President to replace the Prime Minister, Namal Rajapaksa, the son of the newly sworn-in Prime Minister, said that his father and the President had been in talks for around “four to five months”.
On October 26, Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena fired the elected Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, and replaced him with Mahinda Rajapaksa. On Thursday, Namal Rajapaksa said that his father was sworn in on the President’s “invitation and wish” and that the two leaders had been in talks for months.
“It was president Sirisena’s invitation and wish. And the discussion between two leaders, as to what they should do next to stabilise the economy and bring back the political, economic and social stability to the country, for the next few months. And then go back to national movement… As far as we know, (the discussion) goes back to four to five months,” said Namal Rajapaksa, while adding that, as old colleagues, they always had a working relationship and had been touch since the 2015 elections.
This runs contrary to Mr Sirisena’s assertion that the surprise move to oust the Prime Minister came after it came to light that a member of Mr Wickremesinghe’s cabinet had allegedly plotted to kill him. Mr Wickremesinghe has denied the allegations. However, Namal Rajapaksa questioned why he did not say anything about the controversy sooner.
“He never mentioned anything like that at that time. He kept quiet. Till everything escalated. And where there was a DIG who was involved, apparently who was involved, and who is remanded at the moment, and there are voice records, that has been given and the voices have been tallied… See, it is a serious allegation. And it is a serious investigation. Plot to assassinate a head of state. But I’m sure, what mattered to President Sirisena was not only that, but there are many other reasons,” said Namal Rajapaksa.
Mr Sirisena and the Rajapaksas were on the on same side of the political spectrum, until they had a falling out and Mr Sirisena joined arms with Mr Wickremesinghe to defeat the Rajapaksas in the 2015 elections. However, Namal Rajapaksa said that this partnership had never really worked.
“It never worked. From the first day, of course, we knew, that the alliance was not going to work… There is a friction. They both come from two different backgrounds. They have two different political ideologies, two different political parties, and totally extreme economic, social and political policies. So these things will never merge. But unfortunately, at that time, they saw this as an opportunity to defeat my father. And this came to… this entire coalition came together to go for 2015 elections. But what I should… what I must highlight is they never had a plan to govern the country,” he said.
The recent shifts in the political tides in the island country has raised concerns in India as well. While Mr Wickremesinghe is perceived to be more India-friendly, Mahinda Rajapaksa is seen to have pro-China leanings. However, Namal Rajapaksa reassures that India need not worry.
“There is no Chinese or any sort of foreign influence on any decision taken by my father or his government… We do know that in the past there was a misperception or misunderstanding, with India and Sri Lanka… India shouldn’t be worried at all. India will be a developing partner for us. India has been very closely working with my father, during the war. India helped us to defeat terrorism. And we fought India’s war. Prabhakaran assassinated Rajiv Gandhi. We all know that. So we fought not only our war, but we brought peace for the region. My father brought peace to the region,” he said.