No heads of government or state have so far sent congratulatory messages to new Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, the Foreign Ministry has confirmed.
However, a spokesperson also said it was because the Cabinet of Ministers was only finalised on Friday and, therefore, a list had not been sent out to Sri Lanka’s missions abroad for dissemination to host nations.
“The Cabinet of Ministers was only finalised on Friday and Parliament was subsequently dissolved the same night,” the spokesperson said yesterday. “What we have at present is a caretaker Government. The new list will be sent following elections in January.” The name of the Prime Minister is also normally sent with the list of Cabinet Ministers, she said. “Since the list of Cabinet Ministers was not complete, it was not sent to missions or capitals. They do not issue statements on caretaker governments.”
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Sarath Amunugama has written to heads of Sri Lankan missions, instructing them to “personally” report back to the Secretary of Foreign Affairs “on a daily basis, on any statements made in capitals and reportage of events in Sri Lanka, in your country/countries of accreditation…”
“Please make it absolutely clear to all concerned that this is a democratic act so that the peoples’ wishes regarding the composition of the Government could be given effect to. Sri Lanka has a long tradition of democracy and of holding free and fair elections,” the minister says.
In a Nov. 10 fax message to Sri Lanka’s missions abroad, Minister Amunugama says the President has dissolved Parliament from midnight of November 9.
“The reason for the President’s decision was the state of uncertainty that prevailed regarding the anticipated behaviour of the Speaker of Parliament. The attention of the President was drawn to the information that, contrary to the Constitution and Standing Orders of Parliament, the Speaker, without due authority, was attempting to change Parliamentary procedures and not proceed with the statement of Government Policy that was to have been delivered by His Excellency the President on the 14th of November, 2018, on which date Parliament was scheduled to be reconvened by Gazette Notification,” the minister adds.
“There have been several requests to call for a general election so that the wishes of the people who are the ultimate repositories of the sovereignty of the country, could be addressed,” he says. “Accordingly, the nomination period for the forthcoming general election has been gazetted as 19th to 26th November, 2018. The Election Commissioner has been informed of this notification and it is anticipated that he will now proceed to act accordingly.
“The election for new Members of Parliament will take place on the 5th January 2019 and the new Parliament will meet on 17th January, 2019. In the coming days, we will follow up with further information regarding the procedure which will be set in motion by the National Elections Commission, through the Election Commissioner.
“Public opinion in Sri Lanka is very much in favour of an election which will resolve the political crisis which hampered activities in the country during the last few months. Please ensure that this information is conveyed to State and non-State actors in your countries of accreditation,” the Minister says.