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Ranil Wickremesinghe - Leader of the Opposition

Amongst the oddest pronouncements on the General Election was the claim of the opposition leader that parliament did not have a mandate from the people. Interestingly enough, this assertion, that ‘Though the government has a majority they do not have a mandate from the people’ was reported in just one Sunday paper, while the papers that normally highlight opposition rhetoric kept silent about this particular gaffe.

The paper that is generally most sympathetic to Mr Wickremesinghe was more concerned with highlighting his defence of himself. He denied that the defeat of the UNP indicated loss of faith in him as a leader, but claimed it ‘indicated a loss of faith among UNP supporters in the present electoral system’. How he squared this assertion with the most graphic display of contempt for him indicated by Moneragala UNP voters was not apparent.

It will be tragic however for the country if, in order to shore up his leadership within the party, he engages in confrontation based on his belief that the government does not have ‘a mandate to rule’. Since he is an intelligent man, and a qualified lawyer, and understands English very well, this little performance must be seen as subterfuge. After all he knows perfectly well that, under the Constitution of which he was such a fervent proponent when it kept him in power for seventeen long years (without an election for half that period), executive authority belongs with the President. Presumably his current argument, based on the size of the poll, assures him that President Rajapakse, elected on a massive poll, has a massive mandate.

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Rajiva Wijesinha

May 2010
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