Besieged Foreign Minister Ravi Karunanayake skipped the weekly Cabinet meeting yesterday and shrugged off calls for his resignation from members of his own Party as well as coalition partners.
On a day where there was a flurry of meetings, Karunanayake opted instead to meet President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe at the Presidential Secretariat after the Cabinet meeting.
At the Cabinet meeting the Ministers did not discuss Karunanayake at length, but there were heated words exchanged over the conduct of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into the alleged Bond Scam and the Attorney General’s Department.
Earlier in the day Sri Lanka Freedom Party Ministers met Prime Minister Wickremesinghe to discuss the situation and the latter had assured them that Karunanayake will take a final decision within two days.
The SLFP ministers had earlier planned to boycott the Cabinet meeting but decided to attend it after President Sirisena promised them that the matter would be dealt with firmly.
Karunanayake is also facing a ‘No-Faith’ Motion in Parliament tabled by the Joint Opposition. Speaker Karu Jayasuriya is expected to announce the date of the debate on this issue today.
Meanwhile, several UNP ministers and strong party supporters, including clergymen, met Minister Karunanayake yesterday and on Tuesday, separately, to persuade him to step down from his ministerial portfolio at least until the investigations are completed.
However, sources close to Karunanayake said that neither the President nor the Prime Minister have demanded that he step down as yet.
They however, confirmed Karunanayake’s meeting with the President last morning following the Cabinet meeting, even though what was discussed at the meeting was not known.
According to sources, Karunanayake was standing firm and said he does not see the need to step down until he is proven guilty by the Commission or indicted by a Court. Karunanayake’s troubles come from testimony given before the Presidential Commission alleging that businessman Arjun Aloysius had paid the rent on a luxury apartment in Colombo for Karunanayake and later helped him buy the flat. Karunanayake in his testimony said he knew nothing of the deal.