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Strong opposition to President’s non-binding referendum move

President Maithripala Sirisena wants to conduct a non-binding national referendum to seek public approval for parliamentary general elections ahead of the presidential poll this year.

Though he has obtained a favourable opinion from Attorney General Dappula de Livera, there are other political obstacles he would have to surmount. His own legal advisors have also expressed scepticism over the move.

The United National Party (UNP)-led United National Front, the main opposition Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna, which commands a substantial vote base, are not in favour of the move. They want the presidential election, scheduled for this year, to be held first.

The move comes as President Sirisena appears to have resolved a deadlock between the Executive and the Legislature. After behind-the-scenes manoeuvres by at least two UNF ministers – Ravi Karunanayake and Rajitha Senaratne – he had agreed to summon the next Cabinet meeting on Tuesday (June 18).

He insisted earlier that he would not preside at Cabinet meetings until the winding up of the Parliamentary Select Committee, now probing the Easter Sunday incidents.

Before his departure to Tajikistan, President Sirisena wrote to Speaker Karu Jayasuriya on the matter and copied the same letter to all members of the PSC. He had highlighted the damage caused to national security by wide publicity being given to testimony by witnesses and urged that the sittings be wound up. The matter is to come up for discussion before the Speaker as well as members of the PSC on Tuesday.

President Sirisena had said that the report of the three-member committee headed by serving Supreme Court Judge, Justice Vijith Malalgoda, had been handed over to him. He had assured that action would be taken on the matter.

Author: TELO Admin