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Parliamentary debate on formation of national unity govt in Sri Lanka postponed

Press Trust of India  |  Colombo 

The parliamentary debate on a resolution to form a in was put off on Thursday after the government held back a proposal over it, days after said he is opposed to any such move.

A motion which was to be tabled in Parliament for approval for the formation of the was held back, ruling (UNP) said.

The proposal will not be presented today," he said.

The motion if approved would have enabled to expand his Cabinet and more importantly to secure the simple majority.

Wickremesinghe is stuck with limiting his Cabinet to 30 members in terms of the 19th amendment to the Constitution. He could expand it only in the event of forming a with another party.

Since the restoration of Wickremesinghe as the in mid-December at the end of a major constitutional impasse, the government has lacked simple majority of 113 in the the 225-member House.

The formation would have allowed members from Sirisena's (SLFP) defectors to join the government.

in his address this week slammed the move to form a national government saying it was unethical to do so with a party which had just one member, the Muslim Congress.

The said he is opposed to forming a national government only to expand the Cabinet of ministers and attain more privileges, indicating that his rift with Wickremesinghe was far from over.

Wickremesinghe was sacked by President in October last year and strongman was appointed the The president also removed the members of his SLFP from the

The UNP, with 106 seats, had joined hands with the Sirisena's SLFP in 2015 to form a unity government.

Sirisena was forced to reappoint Wickremesinghe as the prime minister after Rajapaksa failed to prove his majority twice in Parliament.

Since his reappointment, the Wickremesinghe-led government has been functioning without the required majority of 113 in the House.

Wickremesinghe plans to set up a national government by entering into a pact with the solitary member from the while roping in the members from Sirisena's

The year 2019 is a crucial year for Sri Lanka as the next is scheduled to be held between November this year and early January 2020.

has already announced that they would not back the president again due to the ongoing rift between Sirisena and Wickremesinghe. Rajapaksa cannot contest again as he had been before. The former president's new is less inclined to back Sirisena.

The Rajapaksa-led opposition has been demanding holding of fresh elections ahead of its schedule in August 2020.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, February 07 2019. 17:05 IST