No cabinet appointments or appointment for the post of Opposition Leader have been made even though two weeks have passed since the conclusion of the general election. However, there has been a lot of speculation as to which party is the Opposition and who has the right to hold the post of the Opposition Leader.
Sri Lanka Freedom Party spokesperson Dilan Perera has been quoted in the media in his personal capacity that he believes that the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) has the right to hold the post of the Opposition Leader. Some of the UPFA members who were elected and parties affiliated to the UPFA are of the view that they have no intention of joining the national government therefore will sit in the Opposition.
Former Ministers Kumara Welgama is of the opinion that the decision as to who should be the Opposition Leader is something which should be decided by the Speaker. “A memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has already been signed by both the United National Party (UNP) and the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and according to the agreement on September 4 a national government will be formed,” he said. However, he reiterated the fact that he will be sitting in the Opposition and that has been his decision throughout.
Meanwhile, Pivithuru Hela Urumaya (PHU) General Secretary Udaya Gammanpila said that the UPFA has no mandate to form a joint government with the UNP. He stressed that almost all the parliamentarians who are for the national government are those who failed to obtain people’s trust in the last election.
“Majority of the elected candidates of the UPFA are against this concept of the national government. If we join them it will be an act of betrayal. Because it is against the mandate received. A significant number of UPFA parliamentarians prefer to sit in the Opposition,” said Gammanpila.
He further pointed out the fact that one of the objectives of forming a national government is to create an opportunity for the TNA to hold the Opposition Leaders’ post and that they will not let the post to be given to the TNA. “If they are given that post they will exploit the position. An opposition leader is a Prime Minister in waiting and it has international recognition as well. We strongly believe that is not the people’s wish,” he added.
Gammanpila also expressed that the President should allow the members of the Opposition to decide on their leader, “That is the democratic way of solving this issue. We hope that he will follow the precedence set by President D.B Wijetunge by letting the members of the Opposition to select their leader,” he said.
Mahajana Eksath Peramuna leader Dinesh Gunawardena was however of the view that there is no point in talking about who should be the leader of the Opposition without a cabinet been formed. He said once the cabinet and the Speaker are appointed it will be decided as to who should be the Leader of the Opposition.
“Let the cabinet be appointed and the rest of the appointments made. It is too early to comment on who has the right to hold the position of the Opposition Leader. However, I will be sitting in the Opposition so the UPFA,” said Gunawardena.