Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s United National Party (UNP) has plummeted into a deep crisis with the leader under pressure to give up the party leadership. This comes soon after the party faced an electoral setback in the local council elections.
As per reports, President Maithripala Sirisena requested the UNP leader to step down as the premier and Wickremesinghe is facing pressure from within the party to let someone else take over.
In the recent polls, Former president Mahinda Rajapaksa’s new party- Sri Lanka People’s Party (SLPP) defeated the UNP and President Sirisena’s Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP). Rajapaksa received humungous support as he won two-thirds of the 340 councils, thereby winning 225 councils. The UNP won only 41 councils whereas Sirisena’s SLFP saw its worst performance with only 13 percent of the votes. SLFP received only 11 in the first electoral test of the government led by Sirisena.
Sources from the United National Party said President Sirisena’s request to Ranil Wickremesinghe to step down was not justified given that the president’s party had performed so poorly. “We will form our own government independent of the president’s party,” a UNP backbencher said.
Rajapaksa, uplifted by the unexpected success, claimed that both Sirisena and Wickremesinghe had lost their 2015 mandate and called for the immediate dissolution of parliament.
The next parliamentary election in Sri Lanka is due in August, 2020 and the Sirisena-led current government’s term will run until then. The UNP said their policies could not be implemented without hindrance as Sirisena’s SLFP was blocking them at every step. The UNP has 106 seats in the 225-member parliament, seven short of a working majority.