The Prime Ministerial musical chair of Sri Lanka

D.M. Jayarathna
(April 19, Colombo - Lanka Polity)  In Sri Lanka's history of executive presidency, always the Prime Minister has become the successor to the post sans single occasion. It was when President D.B. Wijethunga, the successor of slain President R. Premadasa, did not contest for a second term. The Premier under a President who is in his second term has always become the next President. 

President Mahinda Rajapaksa is to commence his second term this year. Who will be the Premier of the next parliament in Sri Lanka? Whoever he (probably not 'she' under the present context) is, he will definitely be the next President, we guarantee.

However, President Mahinda Rajapaksa is ambitious to change the constitution before the end of his second term and he will try to be the next state head, either President or Premier. He is now training his elder son 24-year-old Namal Rajapaksa to be the hair to the throne. 

In 2004, the major partner of the ruling coalition People's Liberation Front (JVP) wanted to appoint Lakshman Kadirgamar as the Prime Minister. Mahinda Rajapaksa fought vehemently for the post and he won it despite the President Chandrika was not in his favor. If he lost the battle then, there would not be a President Rajapaksa or a Rajapaksa Brothers Company too. 

Likewise, many seniors of the ruling coalition are engaged in a cold war for the post of Prime Minister. The cold war is likely to warm in the coming days. 

President's brother Basil Rajapaksa who has good control of media is manipulating media to set forth his candidacy. Sinhala daily Lankadeepa ran a story this weekend in the front page highlighting Basil Rajapaksa as the best candidate for the Premiership on the basis he can maintain the balance of the ruling coalition. The balance is promptly challenged since he is the brother of President Mahinda Rajapaksa. 

Meanwhile, a political writer in Sinhala nationalist daily Divaina argued the rightness of appointing Basil as the Prime Minister although he is the brother of the President. One argument is that he is a senior of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party that was active in 1970s and even contested for the Mulkirigala electorate in 1977 general election. However, the fact that he once broke away from the party and joined the United National Party (UNP) before he left the country for permanent residency in US is deliberately shunned by media. No doubt, he is a hard worker and a brilliant manager of power affairs under President Mahinda Rajapaksa, a plus point in his bag. 

But the most suitable contender for the Prime Minister post is non other than the veteran Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) General Secretary Maithripala Sirisena. He is now mustering party support to field him as a contender for the post. 

Elderly SLFP man D.M. Jayarathna is also slated for the post and S.B. Disanayaka that recently crossed over to the SLFP from UNP is backing him probably with hopes for benefits in future. Premiership for Kandy is a racist argument set forth by S.B. Disanayaka. One day, he will argue for the Presidency for Kandy. Latest reports say that the President is likely to appoint D.M. Jayarathna as the Prime Minister until he begins his second term in November. This seems the most cunning move since all those who wish to be the next real Prime Minister will have to be extremely loyal to the leader until a day the President decides to change the post.

You can obsever pro-government media now propagating evils of the management of health sector under ex-Health Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva. This will tarnish any chance for Silva to vie for Premiership although he came to top in the list of preferential votes in Badulla district. 

Amidst these hullabaloos ex-Prime Minister Rathnasiri Wickramanayaka might have luck again to be appointed as the Prime Minister. Luckily, his name is in the national list. In 2004, even the name was not in the  national list. 

One can argue that the post of Prime Minister is similar to the post of Minister without portfolio. He will not have powers that even the Speaker of the parliament has. He can be a 'talk master' like Rathnasiri Wickramanayaka. 

But for sure, the Prime Minister of this parliament has the most opportunity to be the next President. 


  1. The next president will be Gen ;Sarath Fonseka

  2. After how many years would that be my dear?


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