Sri Lanka's Leader of Opposition and head of the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) alliance Sajith Premadasa today said that the opposition will support all positive steps taken by the freshly sworn-in Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to rebuild the country's economy even though he was disappointed that the major opposition parties weren't even consulted before the president Gotabaya Rajapaksa made the appointment.
"Whether the crisis is going to be sorted out is a question left to the government. We, as a constructive and progressive opposition, are determined to provide constructive, productive support for any positive proposals that aim to alleviate the suffering of the common masses," he told NDTV.
On why be in the opposition instead of forming a unity government, as suggested by the president, Mr Premadasa said it's because the president hasn't yet removed himself from politics as requested by them. "That is the outcry of the masses of Sri Lanka and we cannot go back on the principle stand that we took. We are politicians of credibility and integrity and people have trusted us to be the loyal opposition and we will ensure that the people's wishes will be fulfilled," he said.
Opposition leaders are demanding constitutional change for the elimination of the presidential system and the resignation of the president, but have also said they would "constructively and progressively" support proposals that are put forth for alleviating the suffering of the masses.
"We have to understand we in the opposition received a mandate to be opposition, not in government," he said.
Mr Premadasa stressed that the opposition is not opposed to any policies that will ensure that food security is enhanced, and fuel, electricity, gas, fertiliser and other essentials are easily available to the people. "We will support all proposals that could result in such productive activities," he said.
He accused the governing party and the "so-called governing elite" of trying to poach people from opposition parties by providing them with perks, privileges, and administrative positions. "This we will not tolerate. If it comes to that, we, the opposition will not support the government at all. So, in the midst of this crisis, we should not engage in political conspiracies or a game of political musical chairs. What ought to happen is to focus on the national challenges and national objectives as we are there to support in achieving those objectives," he said.
He then thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the people of India for the "tremendous support" that has been provided to ensure that "people in Sri Lanka live", the basic amenities are met, and that they're provided with food and fuel.
"Indian assistance has been indispensable and most valuable, and I would encourage India to help my motherland more," he said.