Crossover today, MoU ends
- UNP chairman delivers final warning to President
- All UNP dissidents and 2 SLMC MPs to be sworn in today
The United National Party (UNP) informed President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday that the party’s Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with his government would end with his accommodation of dissident UNP MPs.
The warning was conveyed by UNP Chairman Rukman Senanayake during a meeting with President Rajapaksa yesterday.
“I told him the MoU is finished if the crossover happens,” Mr. Senanayake told The Sunday Times.
The meeting came ahead of today’s cabinet reshuffle in which at least 17 UNP MPs are to be sworn in as cabinet ministers, deputy or project ministers.
With this move UNP General Secretary Tissa Attanayaka said those MPs joining the government would be sacked from the party after disciplinary inquiries were conducted.
The 17 UNP dissidents set to cross over are: M.H. Mohamed, G.L. Peiris, Milinda Moragoda, Gamini Lokuge and Bandula Gunawardena (Colombo); Karu Jayasuriya and Edward Gunasekera (Gampaha); Rajitha Senaratne (Kalutara); Hemakumara Nanayakkara (Galle); Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena (Matara); P. Dayaratne (Digamadulla); Mano Wijeratne (Kegalle); Dharmadasa Banda (Moneragala); Navin Dissanayake(Nuwara Eliya); Neomal Perera (Puttlam); C.A. Suriyaarchchi (Polonnaruwa) and M. M.M. Mustapha (National List).
The dissident group met President Rajapaksa at Temple Trees last night and discussed the political situation over dinner.
Meanwhile, the six Sri Lanka Muslim Congress MPs too reached agreement with the government to join it. They are to be given one Cabinet portfolio and a non-cabinet portfolio.
The UNP chairman’s message to the President was similar to the one Party leader Ranil Wickremesinghe conveyed to the President when they met on January 17 but the warnings do not seem to have deterred the MPs from crossing over or the President from accepting them.
Asked about reports that the UNP leadership had spoken to the President about the formation of a national government, Mr. Senanayake dismissed such reports, saying all talks with the President centred on the MoU and the committees to be appointed in terms of that agreement.
The UNP chairman also denied reports that he had met the President on Friday in a bid to persuade him not to accept the crossovers.
Meanwhile UNP General Secretary Attanayaka said disciplinary action would be taken against the dissidents on the basis they violated the party constitution by accepting cabinet portfolios without the approval of the party’s working committee.
He said the UNP would go ahead with proposed party reforms despite the crossover by the dissidents.
Sources among the dissidents said they would function as a separate group in parliament. A letter regarding their position would be sent to Speaker W.J.M. Lokubandara.
Meanwhile as part of the UNP reforms S.B. Dissanayake is to be named as the National Organiser of the party on February 5, Mr. Attanayake said.
He said this move was approved by the working committee before party leader Ranil Wickremesinghe left for Nepal and India.