The SLFP argued that the term of office of President Maithripala Sirisena is six years and not five years as mentioned in the 19th Amendment to the Constitution.
Minister Faiszer Musthapha and State Minister Dilan Perera addressing a press conference at the SLFP headquarters said the term of office of President Sirisena was not curtailed by the 19th Amendment.
“President Sirisena was elected before the 19th Amendment was passed. Therefore he is entitled to a term of six years” Minister Musthapha said.
On these grounds, he said the next General Election would be held before the Presidential Election. “The term of Parliament ends in 2020 and a General Election will have to be held first” he stated.
Responding to a journalist’s question, Minister Dilan Perera also reiterated that if the SLFP Central Committee decides that President Sirisena would be the party candidate for the next Presidential Election, the President cannot turn his back to the majority opinion.
Minister Perera was also critical that certain individuals in the Government were trying to overrule the President’s decisions misreading the people’s mandate.
“The President was elected by the majority vote of the entire country. However, some whose mandate was limited to districts try to overrule the President’s decisions. The President has to give repeated reminders to resolve those problems. His intervention into the SAITM issue, rice shortage, lottery ticket price issue and Treasury bond issue are instances to prove this” he said.
Minister Perera was also confident that the SLFP would contest the upcoming Local Government election under one broad alliance which includes even the SLFP members working for the Joint Opposition and minor parties attached to the JO. He said a mechanism in this regard is now being worked out.
Commenting on the JO’s decision to withdraw from the Sub-Committees appointed by the Constitutional Assembly, the Minister said it would have no effect as Sub-Committees have already completed their tasks and submitted reports. “They are still in the Steering Committee and MPs Dinesh Gunawardena and Prasanna Ranatunga are actively engaging in the discussions. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has been very patient and ready to listen to all views during the Steering Committee meetings,” he said.