GOVERNMENT IS PLANNING TO HAVE PRESIDENTIAL AND GENERAL ELECTIONS TOGETHER BEFORE THE END OF APRIL, SAYS MINISTER
Posted on August 12th, 2009

By Walter Jayawardhana

When the government’s popularity in the country is at its zenith Sri Lanka’s President is planning to have both the Presidential elections and the parliamentary general elections together before the end of April next year, a cabinet minister said.

Addressing the media in Colombo yesterday, cabinet minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena said, “We are being accused by the opposition for holding the (provincial council) elections separately one by one at intervals. After October 15 when we have finished all such elections after the Southern Provincial Council elections there won’t be such separately held elections. The two other elections coming thereafter namely, the Presidential election and the Parliamentary General Elections won’t be held one after the other at intervals separately.”

Minister Abeywardena, who is a member of a breakaway group of the opposition, United National Party (Democratic Wing)and who has a thorough knowledge about the infighting in the party regarding its leader Ranil Wickramasinghe and demand for him to quit the leadership over his inability to win more than a dozen elections said, “Here we are giving two elections together. Prepare to contest and win them.”

United National Party insiders said the party is wrecked with intrigues, conspiracies , cunning plots etc. to oust present leader Ranil Wickramasinghe , who is refusing to quit his leadership position voluntarily. They accused the “ƒ”¹…”undemocratic’ party constitution does not allow the majority to oust him from the party.

The same sources said , the proportional representation system was introduced to the country’s elections law with the belief that no party would be able to obtain a two thirds majority in any elected body. But the erosion of the popularity under Ranil Wickremesinghe for the party is so immense that in the recently held Uva Provincial Council elections UNP was reduced to 7 seats while President Mahinda Rajapaksa led UPFA won a two third majority of 25 seats.

When the provincial Council elections were held one after the other at intervals from 2008 the main opposition the UNP under Ranil Wickremasinghe has been routed. In the Eastern Province, UPFA won with 20 seats while UNP was able to bag only 15. UPFA won the North Central Provincial Council with 20 seats when UNP obtained 12. Once again Sabaragamuwa Provincial Council went to UPFA who won 25 seats while UNP was able to be satisfied with 17 seats. UPFA won 36 seats in the Central Provincial Council elections despite a heavy campaign by a UNP leader S.B.Dissanayaka , who were able to be satisfied only with 22 seats. North Western Provincial Council went to UPFA who won 37 seats while UNP won only 14. The traditionally UNP Western Provincial Council also went to the UPFA who won 68 seats while UNP won only 30 seats.

The last Provincial Council election to be held is the Southern Provincial Council elections. President Rajapaksa hails from the area the council rules. Analysts have predicted an overwhelming victory for his party for the major development schemes he has launched like the Chinese aided Hambatota Harbour and the expansion of the Galle Harbour. The whole UNP group in the Kamburupitya Pradeshiya Sabha , with their leader Premawansa Warnakula have joined the President’s party yesterday before the nominations.

Professor Navaratne Rambukwella (Political Science) of the Colombo University says that the failure of the UNP leadership to understand the political pulse of the nation has brought about this great erosion of unpopularity for the party. He said yesterday, “The coalition he plans to fight the government at these elections in April exhibits my point. He is planning to coalesce with elements like Pro-LTTE Mano Ganeshan, Wickramabahu Karunaratne and unpopular Muslim Congress led by Rauff Hakeem.”

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