The heat on the United National Party (UNP) will increase this week as the Opposition’s No Faith Motion against Foreign Minister Ravi Karunanayake gathers momentum.
This morning House Speaker Karu Jayasuriya will meet Party leaders to decide on a date for the motion filed by the Joint Opposition against Karunanayake to be debated and eventually voted on.
The controversy erupted after it was revealed at the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI), probing the alleged Bond scam, two weeks ago, that the rent for an expensive penthouse in a luxury apartment block in Colombo was paid for by Arjun Aloysius.
Aloysius is the principal of Perpetual Treasuries, the company involved in the alleged scam.
Meanwhile, high level sources told Ceylon Today, that there is a possibility that two more Cabinet Ministers from the UNP will be summoned before the Commission this week.
The source said it may be Development Strategies and International Trade Minister Malik Samarawickrema and Public Enterprise Development Minister Kabir Hashim.
Samarawickrema is the Chairman of the UNP and Hashim General Secretary of the Party.
The Commission is likely to ask questions from these ministers about a letter Karunanayake, as Finance Minister, wrote saying that there was a need to raise Rs 75 billion for road construction.
The letter was produced by lawyers representing former Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran, justifying the issue of the bonds. In the letter Karunanayake names Samarawickrema and Hashim as Cabinet colleagues who made the request. Last week, it was reported that President Maithripala Sirisena had asked Minister Karunanayake to step down from his post. This however was denied by Karunanayake, through media and a sponsored message on Face Book that neither President nor Prime Minister asked him to resign. Asked as to what future course of action will be taken against Karunanayake in the event he would refuse to step down, a close confidante of President Sirisena said the entire process will be decided by the Prime Minister. “As per the 19th Amendment, the President is not in a position to take an arbitrary decision. Thus, he left it in the hands of the Prime Minister and is waiting to see what Prime Minister’s decision would be,” he noted.
UNP Deputy Leader Sajith Premadasa said that he will not be supporting corruption or theft and will take to the streets against it along with the public.
As both, the Party and Government would run into a severe crisis, those loyal to Karunanayake indicated last evening that the latter might step down.
“In the event he refuses to step down, Prime Minister Wickremesinghe might agree to a date for No Faith Motion and allow UNP parliamentarians to go for a free vote,” another UNP Minister said.