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Discussing what transpires at cabinet meetings in public is violation of cabinet traditions: Premier Ranil charges

Ranil Wickremesinghe

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe has charged that it would be a violation of cabinet tradition for any responsible person to discuss whatever transpired at cabinet meetings in public. It has been a healthy cabinet tradition that any question regarding the statements of the members of the Cabinet to be discussed within the Cabinet.

He was addressing party activists at Temple Trees on Sunday. Prime Minister Wickremesinghe said:

"A group of civil society representatives met with me last week to talk about what our government has done and failed to do. I informed them that our party had passed a resolution abolishing the executive presidency in 2014 and that we would continue to advocate for the abolition of the executive presidency.

Then they asked to reach a cabinet decision to support the 20th Amendment. Accordingly, on the 16th September, they handed me a draft prepared to be referred to the Cabinet.

I pointed out to the civil society representatives that the 20th Amendment cannot be passed in Parliament without the support of other political parties. So I asked them to inform me of the views of other political parties.

On the 17th, MP Sumanthiran told me that they had discussions with the JVP on the abolition of the executive system. He further stated that the President has informed him that the President also wants to bring in the 20th Amendment.

Then I pointed out to MP Sumanthiran that the support of the Podujana Peramuna would be needed for the resolution to be passed in Parliament. MP Sumanthiran has made a public statement regarding this. No one has rejected that statement.

At 8:16 am on the 19th the President telephoned me asked me whether to call a Cabinet meeting to discuss the 20th Amendment.

I informed the President that the civil society had made a request for this. MP Sumanthiran had informed me of the President's stand on the matter. Therefore, I told the President that it is appropriate to call the Cabinet and discuss it.

I said that it would be easy to call that meeting on Thursday or Friday. Mr. Ravi Karunanayake did not call me that day.

At about nine in the morning, the cabinet secretary had informed my secretary that the cabinet meeting would be held at 3 pm. Thereafter, my secretary referred the draft of the civil society to the Cabinet Secretary for use if needed. I called the ministers at 2 pm and informed them of this.

The discussion was very heated. Everyone was openly expressed opinions. There was no agreement for the 20th Amendment.
Before the cabinet meeting, I informed the President that there was no agreement among the Ministers.

At the beginning of the meeting, I informed the Cabinet Secretary in front of the President that there was no consensus among the ministers and therefore, the presentation of the draft cabinet paper was pointless.

I summed up the views of the ministers at that meeting. The ministers made various comments. We decided that it was appropriate to leave the final decision to each party.

If there is a question regarding the statements of the members of the Cabinet, it should be discussed within the Cabinet. Failure to do so would violate cabinet tradition. Therefore, I only point out what happened here. I will not insult or blame anyone."


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