Re-organized SLFP structure signals Sirisena-Rajapaksa rapprochement
Posted on June 4th, 2018

Significantly, former Presidents Mahinda Rajapaksa and Chandrika Kumaratunga and former Prime Minister D.M. Jayaratne have been made members of the Party Advisory Committee. And the re-organized committees have MPs and former Ministers who had earlier walked out and sat in the opposition benches to negotiate unity with the Joint Opposition leader and former SLFP President Rajapaksa.

Re-organized SLFP structure signals Sirisena-Rajapaksa rapprochement

Thus, the 16member rebel group has now been re-absorbed by the SLFP.

Current SLFP leader and Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena and former party chief and former Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa have been bitter rivals since late 2014 when Sirisena broke away from the party and fought the January 8, 2015 Presidential election as a Common Opposition Candidate propped by the UNP. Rajapaksa had then gone on to float his outfit ,the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP).

However, after the utter defeat of the SLFP (Sirisena faction) in the February 10, 2018 Local Bodies elections at the hands of the SLPP, his party men and MPs have been campaigning for a rapprochement and unification of the SLFP (S) and SLPP.

They felt that Rajapaksa’s mass appeal combined with Sirisena’s executive power will enable a unified SLFP to defeat the UNP in the coming elections.

When they failed to convince Sirisena to bury the hatchet and accommodate Rajapaksa, 16 MPs of the SLFP(S) including some cabinet ministers left the government benches and sat with the opposition.

They announced their plan to be bridge of understanding  between the SLFP (S) and SLPP so that the SLFP of  yore is recreated to defeat the UNP in the coming provincial, Presidential  and parliamentary elections between now and August 2020.

At the joint meeting of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party’s Executive Council and All Island Committee held under the patronage of party leader and President Sirisena, Sirisena was re-elected party President. Prof. Rohana Lakshman Piyadasa was elected as the party’s General Secretary replacing Minister Duminda Dissanayake.

Minister Dissanayake was appointed as the SLFP National Organiser and former Minister S.B. Dissanayake was elected as Party Treasurer. S.B.Dissanayake is among the 16 rebels now sitting with the opposition.

The SLFP will have four Senior Vice Presidents including Minister Nimal Siripala De Silva, former Ministers W.D.J. Seneviratne, Anura Priyadarshana Yapa and Susil Premajayantha. The last three belong to the Group of 16 rebels”

A.H.M. Fowzie, Sarath Amunugama, Mahinda Amaraweera, Dayasiri Jayasekara, Reginold Cooray, Piyasena Gamage, Vijith Vijayamuni de Soyza, Mahinda Samarasinghe, Dilan Perera, Southern Province Chief Minister Shan Vijayalal de Silva, MP Angajan Ramanadan were elected as SLFP Vice Presidents.

Several others were elected as new Deputy Secretaries of the party. They are, Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya, Central Province Chief Minister Sarath Ekanayake, North-Western Province Chief Minister Dharmasiri Dasanayake, Western Province Chief Minister Isura Devapriya, Uva Province Chief Minister Chamara Sampath Dasanayake, Deputy Minister Lasantha Alagiyawanna, former Deputy Minister Dr. Sudarshanee Fernandopulle and Sumedha G. Jayasena.

All Parliamentarians representing the SLFP at present were elected to the party Central Committee (CC)

Senior Vice President and one of the 16 rebels, John Seneviratne, said that since SLFP has contributed much to the betterment of the general public of the country it should not be destroyed.

Asked if the SLFP Group 16 made any special observations at the joint meeting, Seneviratne said that they did not, as the group of 16 is still part of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party.

We walked out of the government because we disagreed with some policies taken up by it. But we are still a part of the SLFP,” Seneviratne said.

With the SLFP heading towards re-unification, President Sirisena announced later that the stalled elections to some Provincial Councils will be held at the earliest.

Political observers said that the unification of the SLFP and the accommodation shown to Rajapaksa and the rebels will further sharpen contradictions within the coalition government. The SLFP and the UNP are bound to end the coalition sooner or later, they added.

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