Colombo: A day after Sri Lanka’s supreme court decreed that the constitution envisages a five-year term for the president, and not six, Maithripala Sirisena stormed out of a cabinet meeting on Tuesday after making an emotional speech in which he complained that venomous attacks had been made against him by some members of the United National Party (UNP). The UNP is a coalition partner of Mr Sirisena’s Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP).

However, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and several ministers belonging to the UNP followed Sirisena outside the cabinet room and requested him to return. Mr Sirisena relented and attended the rest of the cabinet proceedings.

S.M. Marikkar, a UNP legislator, had recently derided the president as a “pickpocket who robbed my party of its dues”. He said Sirisena should be grateful to the UNP for getting him elected as president.

Published in Dawn, January 17th, 2018