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Wednesday, March 18, 2015 - 06.08 GMT
Constitutional reforms first, dissolution later - President


President Maithripala Sirisena said the top priority of the government is to fulfill the promise of constitutional reforms and the process has already been initiated with the presenting of the 19th Amendment. He added the dissolution of Parliament could be decided after the amendments to the constitution are enacted.

Addressing newspaper editors and media heads at the Janadhipathi Mandiraya today, the President said the current temporary national government would be transformed into a stronger National Government after the next general election with the participation of the SLFP, UNP and other parties willing to join this effort.

Asked if he would lead the SLFP at the next general election, President Sirisena said he has certain obligations towards the party that has elected him as its leader a week after his victory at the Presidential election. I do not want to be ungrateful to the UNP and other parties that supported me at the election. We have agreed to form a national government after the general elections, too. Whatever the campaigning I do will be a civilized one without any personal attacks. The election will be fought on the policies and principles of different political parties. I want to establish this new political culture where we all could sit together in a National Government after the polls, he said.

President Sirisena urged the SLFPers to allow him to conduct the affairs of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party, as its Chairman and leader, without any interference.

"I have been entrusted with the leadership of the party, without even seeking it. Therefore, should allow me to conduct its affairs," the President said. He recalled that former party leaders of both the SLFP and UNP had never dwelt in party affairs after they handed over the leadership to the next in line.

"After J.R. Jayewardene handed over the party leadership to R.Premadasa, he never came back an interfered in party affairs, even though Mr Premadasa requested him to do so when there was a dispute within the party led by Lalith and Gamini. In the same manner, after former leader Chandrika Kumaranatunge handed over the party reins to Mahinda Rajapaksa in 2005, she never interfered in party affairs. In fact, most of the time she was not even in the country," he added.

The President said there were some meetings being conducted that moved away from this practice, and urged party organizers to think rationally, and according to their conscience about the objective behind these attempts.

President Sirisena said that, since taking over the SLFP leadership, internal party democracy has been restored. He pointed out that the party office bearers and members today have begun to speak freely after a long period of silence, even going to the extent of openly criticizing the party leader. He added that this was a good sign.

"For the first time in history, I saw party members challenging the leader openly through the media. Such open discussion within party ranks augurs well for the SLFP's progress. MPs should vote in Parliament on party affiliations, but all 225 MPs should express their opinion frankly. That is the spirit of democracy," he added.






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Last modified: March 18, 2015.

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