JO/SLPP won’t accept LG polls postponement

Debate on Bond Commission, PRECIFAC reports:


By Shamindra Ferdinando

Speaker Karu Jayasuriya will meet political party leaders today (January 30) to decide on a date for a debate on Bond Scam Commission and the PRECIFAC (Presidential Commission of Inquiry to Investigate and Inquire into Serious Acts of Fraud, Corruption and Abuse of Power, State Resources and Privileges) reports ahead of the Feb. 10 local government polls.

A spokesperson for the Speaker’s Office said that the Chairman of the National Election Commission (NEC) Mahinda Deshapriya, too, had been invited for the discussion. The official said that the meeting would be held at 12 noon, though it was originally scheduled to be held at 10 am at the Speaker’s Office.

President Maithripala Sirisena will chair the weekly Cabinet meeting before the party leaders meet.

Chairman of Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna Prof. G. L. Peiris yesterday pointed out that Speaker Jayasuriya had called for the special meeting in the wake of President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime MinisterRanil Wickremesinghe calling for debate ahead of the polls. The former External Affairs Minister Prof. Peiris said that President Sirisena and Premier Wickremesinghe were making an attempt to deceive the electorate.

Addressing the media at the Nelum Mawatha office of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Prof. Peiris said that the Leader of the House Lakshman Kiriella (UNP) and minister Mahinda Samarasinghe (SLFP) at the January 24 party leaders’ meet had strongly opposed the Joint Opposition/SLPP push to have the debate ahead of the Feb 10 poll. Prof. Peiris emphasised that Kiriella and Samarasinghe wouldn’t have taken up what he called a consensus position without specific instructions from the PM and the President respectively.

Referring to recent statements, including an interview given by Kiriella to Irida Divaina (Jan. 28), Prof. Peiris said the President and PM were still exploring ways and means of putting off scheduled poll. The former law professor pointed out that Kiriella had said the relationship between the President and the PM would improve after the conclusion of the election.

The SLPP chairman said NEC member Prof. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole has asserted the institution in terms of Local Authorities Ordinance-Section 76 could postpone Feb 10 poll in case the debate on bond commission and PRECIFAC reports took place after the conclusion of campaigning.

Leader of the JO parliamentary group Dinesh Gunawardena yesterday told The Island that the yahapalana partners and the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) jointly opposed proposed debate before the forthcoming election. According to JO MP, Ministers Kiriella, Samarasinghe, Nimal Siripala de Silva, MP Ravi Karunanayake and Opposition Leader R. Sampanthan, MP, opposed an early date for debate. They acted contrary to the public sentiment and allocated Feb 20 and 21 for the debate.

Gunawardena pointed out that MP Karunanayake in spite of being named in the Bond Commission report represented the UNP at the party leaders’ meet chaired by Speaker Jayasuriya.

Gunawardena said that he was really surprised to learn that a scheduled poll could be put off on the basis of a parliamentary debate. An election could be stayed only by a court of law on a judicial matter, Gunawardena said, urging the government to face the electorate.

Both Prof. Peiris and Gunawardena said the Bond Commission recommendations now in the public domain were more than sufficient for the people to identify the culprits.

Gunawardena said that thanks to the heavy reportage of treasury bond scams since March 2015 those who had been responsible for the first and the second far bigger treasury bond scam were known. The MP said that the UNP and the SLFP certainly owed an explanation to the people as to why they opposed an early debate at January 24 party leaders’ meet.

Prof. Peiris alleged that President Sirisena had deceived the country when he told media last Friday an unholy alliance in parliament opposed proposed early debate. Now the names of all those members of parliament present on that day were known, the electorate could reach their own conclusion, Prof. Peiris said.

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