Colombo : Ranil Wickremesinghe, set to return as Sri Lanka’s premier for a fourth term, today appealed to all political parties to work together to heal the divisions of the past as he began piecing together a new national unity government with possible support from minority Tamils.
A day after the 66-year-old incumbent premier thwarted ex-president Mahinda Rajapaksa’s bid to stage a political comeback amid a surge in support for his reform-driven mandate, Wickremesinghe struck a reconciliatory note and called all parties to contribute to nation-building. “I want everyone to come together now, think of the country, think of the people,” he said ahead of his swearing- in as the new Prime Minister tomorrow. He said he will continue the mandate for good governance given in parliamentary polls and work together with all parties in a national government for 2-3 years.
“The parliamentary elections of August 17 confirms the January 8 revolution,” he said, referring to the presidential election held in January in which Rajapaksa had lost.
“We can’t turn back,” Wickremesinghe said, adding he will build a consensus on the new government’s national policy. “I have got a mandate to put our plan before Parliament, so that we could arrive at a consensus and build a national framework within which we will do our politics,” he said, striking a reconciliatory note.
Through this approach … all parties could work together either in government holding a ministerial position or in Parliament through the oversight committees.” Wickremesinghe’s United National Party (UNP) coalition won 106 seats in Monday’s parliamentary election, just 7 short of a simple majority in the 225-member assembly but enough to form a government. He was certain to receive the majority support from Rajapaksa’s United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) which has 95 seats. The minority Tamil National Alliance (TNA) swept the ethnic Tamil-majority Northern and Eastern provinces with 16 seats and media reports quoted a senior TNA leader that the party will extend support to the government.