The two major political parties of the country getting together to grapple with issues that no single party could resolve in the past is a rare but healthy development. However, like any other good thing in the world this too is not without its pitfalls. On some issues they have agreed while on others they have disagreed. There have also been occasions where ministers from one party have acted to the dissatisfaction of the other party.
Such behaviour has been manifest on many occasions – when presenting the budget, when preparing the VAT proposals, imposing duty on vehicle imports and handling corruption issues – creating rifts between cohabiting parties. These disagreements came to a climax most recently when President Maithripala Sirisena openly accused the FCID, Bribery Commission and CID of acting according to a political agenda, an open indictment on the UNP.
All this show the difficulties involved when two political parties with different views have to govern a country together. Therefore, it is necessary to have a proper mechanism to achieve consensus on all important and sensitive matters before any finality is reached. Just blaming each other will only upset the smooth functioning of the cohabitation arrangement and also confuse the ordinary people while frustrating all those who worked hard to bring this government into power.
The big projects like the Megapolis, drafting a good constitution, economic reforms, etc. are all important but more important would be to see that a hard-earned consensus governing system which provides the enabling environment for all that is preserved and continued.
One group trying to outsmart the other should not be part of the criteria of good governance as such behaviour will only create more suspicion and tension finally rendering the concept of cohabitation completely non-workable to the merriment of all those accused of corruption and financial crimes who are waiting for the fall of this government.
Lack of visible consensus at the highest level of governance can be an obstacle for some of the major reforms that are necessary for the country to progress.The wrong signals about the political stability could discourage potential foreign investors who are vital at this stage if we are to achieve the development goals that we have been contemplating.
The work in the much cherished independent commissions established under the nineteenth amendment should be carried out in a way their independence is properly displayed before the people and this could only be achieved by applying equal standards to people on both sides of the political divide when dealing with issues of corruption.