Sri Lanka: Talks on all-party govt formation positive, says Opposition lawmaker
The crucial talks on the possibility of forming an all-party government in Sri Lanka concluded here on Friday on a positive note with both President Ranil Wickremesinghe and members of the main Opposition party agreeing to work together to take the country out of the worst economic crisis.
Sri Lanka's newly-elected President Ranil Wickremesinghe on Wednesday invited the political parties to form an all-party government to overcome the current economic crisis as Parliament reconvened after a seven-day adjournment.
Main Opposition Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) legislator Harsha de Silva told reporters that all stakeholders agreed to meet again on Tuesday to clearly define the all-party governance concept.
During the 90-minute meeting that ended on a positive note, there was unanimity on the need to work together to help the country out of the current economic crisis, he said, adding that Wickremesinghe talked about an all-party governance set up.
Another group which met Wickremesinghe was of breakaway independents from the ruling SLPP.
GL Peiris, the spokesman of the group, said they will not take any positions in the all-party government but will support the government from outside on common issues.
Group leader Dullas Alahapperuma said they told the president that the public opinion reflected by the 225 members in Parliament was at variance with the larger majority outside of it.
Within the SJB, there was a mixture of feelings on the meeting. The members said they pressed the president to end the crackdown on protesters.
More talks are to follow with other groups.
Wickremesinghe, the leader of the United National Party (UNP), was elected president by lawmakers on July 20 - the first such occasion since 1978. The 73-year-old President was appointed for the rest of the term of Gotabaya Rajapaksa who fled the country and resigned on July 13 in the face of a popular uprising against his government for mismanaging the island nation's economy.
The majority of his support in the 225-member Parliament came from Rajapaksa's Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) party.
A constitutional amendment has been recently gazetted to make Parliament's role stronger, while an interim budget to be presented early next month is expected to announce much needed reforms in the economy.
Sri Lanka has seen months of mass unrest over the worst economic crisis, with the government declaring bankruptcy in mid-April by refusing to honour its international debt.