Wickremsinghe treated Sri Lanka's future as a joy ride: President Sirisena

Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena (Photo: Wikipedia)

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena on Sunday said that Ranil Wickremesinghe was sacked due to his "arrogant" behaviour, and asserted that former strongman Mahinda Rajapaksa has been made the new premier in strict accordance with the Constitution.

In his first address to the nation after the dramatic move to sack Wickremesinghe on Friday night, Sirisena said Wickremsinghe's political conduct since the victory in 2015 was unbecoming.

"He appeared to treat Sri Lanka's future as a joy ride for a coterie of people around him who had no sense of the common man's thinking," he said.

"He completely destroyed the concept of good governance while corruption and waste became rampant. He was making arrogant arbitrary decisions making a mockery of collective responsibility," Sirisena charged.

There was a huge gap in policy agreement between the two of us. I believe the cultural and policy differences between us contributed to this political and economic crisis," he said.

Sirisena on Friday night sacked Wickremesinghe and appointed Rajapaksa as the new prime minister. Next day, he suspended parliament till November 16 after Wickremesinghe sought an emergency session to prove his majority.

The president also withdrew Wickremesinghe's personal security and vehicles in order to accord them to his 72-year-old successor, who staged a dramatic political comeback on Friday.

In the address, Sirisena came down hard on Wickremesinghe over the Central Bank bond scam when his appointee and friend governor Arjuna Mahendran was accused of wrong doing in the Central Bank's bond issues of February 2015 and March 2016.

The country was plunged into an unprecedented economic crisis due to the bond scam," he said.

Sirisena said Wickremesinghe must take the responsibility to have Singapore extradite the former Central Bank governor Mahendran to Sri Lanka to face trial as they are good friends.

Sirisena also accused the UNP leader of treating very lightly the alleged plot to assassinate him.

I received information that senior policemen who were doing investigations were deliberately avoiding meeting officials of the Attorney General's Department," he said.

"Having taken into consideration all crisis, the political and economic as well as the assassination plot on me, I was only left with one alternative which was to appoint former President Mahinda Rajapaksa as the prime minister," Sirisena said.

The president last week accused his unity government partner of Wickremesinghe's UNP of going slow on the investigations after a man named Namal Kumara in mid September disclosed the alleged plot to assassinate Sirisena and former defence minister Gotabhaya Rajapaksa.

On incompatibility between them on economic policies, Sirisena said Wickremesinghe was relying only on foreign investment which led to the local industrialists and entrepreneurs being left in the lurch.

Wickremesinghe's economic council was highly corrupt so I took action to set up a National Economic Council in its place. But he scuttled its functions," he said.

Rejecting Wickremesinghe's allegation that his sacking was unconstitutional and illegal, he said, I must make it very clear that the new appointment (of Rajapaksa) was made on expert legal advice in strict accordance with the Constitution.

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