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PM won’t quit

... says MR never suggested his resignation


by Shamindra Ferdinando

Prime Minister D. M. Jayaratne yesterday scotched rumours that he was planning to quit. He said he intended to remain in that post as long as he could.

Premier Jayaratne was responding to a query at a special meeting with editors of several national newspapers at ‘Visumpaya’ yesterday. He said it was President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s prerogative to appoint and remove the Prime Minister and the latter had not suggested that he resign as Prime Minister.

Yesterday’s meeting was the first with the media since the Premier returned to the country having undergone medical treatment abroad.

Recently, Transport Minister Kumara Welgama declared that the majority of SLFP parliamentary group wanted Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa as Jayaratne’s successor.

Commenting on the collective responsibility of ministers, the premier emphasized that the people had the right to know decisions taken at the Cabinet. However, ministers should never discuss what was going on in the Cabinet as it would be detrimental to the government in power and the national interest, the premier said. In fact, such public disclosure could affect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country, he said, warning his colleagues not to make statements contrary to whatever the position taken by the Cabinet.

The premier said that ministers should be cautious in issuing statements pertaining to contentious issues, as their pronouncement could affect both the government and wellbeing of the people. In the absence of the President at the Cabinet it would be the prerogative of the PM to run it, he said.

President Rajapaksa appointed Jayaratne on the UPFA National List to Parliament after he opted not to contest the last parliamentary poll in April 2010.

Justifying his decision not to quit active politics, the Premier pointed out that some of those top people in the public sector had joined the private sector for a much better package after retirement. He insisted that it would be the responsibility of one and all to serve the country in whatever capacity as long as they could. He said that it was his philosophy.

Asked for his opinion on the next presidential election, the Premier declared that there was no one in the Opposition, who could challenge President Rajapaksa at the next election. The Premier asserted that the Opposition would never be able to deprive the President of public appreciation for giving political leadership to the country’s successful war on terror.

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