Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has decided to indefinitely postpone the signing of the Democratic National Front’s (DNF) new alliance agreement which was to be held tomorrow (05), sources from the Prime Minister’s Office said.
According to them, the decision was taken following requests by the UNP Working Committee and Parliamentary Group to postpone the affair until the proposed amendments to the DNF constitution are approved.
The decision was based on a discussion held by UNP deputy leader Sajith Premadasa, Chairperson Kabeer Hashim with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe today morning.
According to this agreement, Wickremesinghe has notified party secretary Akila Viraj Kariyawasam to make the announcement postponing the scheduled event.
Making an announcement on social media, Advisor to the PM and UNP Working Committee member Lasantha Gunawardane said “with the revelation of an attempt by various groups to sabotage the signing of the DNF agreement, the ceremony has been postponed indefinitely."
However, The Leader reliably learns that the PM made the decision to postpone the event yesterday night (03) taking all the opposition into consideration as a majority of the MPs and parties connected to the government had voiced their dissent against it. While all parties aligned with the government opposed the signing, the party led by Minister Rajitha Senaratne's son, Chathura Senaratne had been favourable to the DNF signing.
(2019.08.04 - 09.05 am) The PM had said he would announce if the DNF signing would be held tomorrow (05) following a discussion with Ministers Sajith Permadasa, Mangala Samaraweera, Kabir Hashim, Malik Samarawickrama and other party seniors.
The PM had announced this last night during a special meeting with several Ministers. The meeting had been attended by Ravi Karunanayake, Akila Viraj Kariyawasam, Rajitha Senaratne, Naveen Dissanayake, Rauf Hakeem, Rishad Bathiudeen, Champika Ranakawa and several others.
The two Muslim Ministers had stressed that their parties vehemently oppose the signing of the agreement prior to resolving the internal issues of the UNP.
They have also requested the PM to discuss with all parties and announce the Presidential candidate immediately. They also told the PM that MP Kavinda Jayawardene who had announced his agreement to the signing and the vast majority of the backbench MPs who had met the Premier have also expressed their opposition to the signing of the DNF agreement. At the request of the backbench MPs, the Prime Minister had spoken to Deputy Leader Sajith Premadasa over the phone with a view to resolving this issue.
Champika steps on the reverse gear!
Meanwhile, Minister Champika Ranawaka has said his party, the Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) would not attend the event if all other parties have declined to sign the agreement. He has also said he would vehemently oppose if Sajith Premadasa is named as the alliance’s presidential candidate.
However, Rajitha Senaratne, Ravi Karunanayake and Akila Viraj Kariyawasam had attempted to pressure the PM to not cancel tomorrow's event. They had told the PM that they had already made arrangements with regard to logistics and other facilities to bring over 1000 Bhikkus, and a large number of supporters from Colombo, Kurunegala and Kalutara for the event.
According to Temple Trees sources, nearly Rs. 100 Million have been released for expenses at the event.
However, the PM had said it would be a joke to sign the agreement with Senarathne's party alone when others are opposing it. He had then said he would give a decision on the matter by today afternoon.
Rajitha’s dreams shattered: Post of Secretary goes to UNP!
Meanwhile, 12 backbench MPs had met the PM at his request yesterday night around 8.30 p.m. at the Temple Trees where they had opposed the agreement conditions put forward by Senaratne.
When they had also slammed the decision to appoint Senaratne as the party secretary, the PM had said since other parties including Muslim and Tamil parties had opposed the decision, the alliance's secretary post will remain with the UNP.
He had also assured the signing will not go ahead if the party MPs are against it.
Furthermore, when UNP General secretary Akila Viraj Kariyawasam had walked in to join the discussion, the Prime Minster had asked him to leave.
“Sir we do not oppose an alliance but we are not in agreement with its constitution. The villagers of our constituencies are asking for Sajith Premadasa. Therefore, we cannot even visit these areas now. Before forming an alliance, name the presidential candidate. Call the Working Committee and the Parliamentary Group and take a decision,” they had told him.
The PM said he would discuss the matter with Premadasa and come to an agreement.
The Minister that went to meet Gotabhaya!
Meanwhile, an MP attending the meeting had inquired from the PM about Ministers close to him having secret dealings with Gotabhaya Rajapaksa.
The MP had said a Minister had met Gotabhaya and assisted him to get a passport without providing any documentation and showed the PM several reports relating to this. The PM had said he would look into this matter.