SLPP rules out rapprochement SLPP rules out rapprochement Presidential election
Posted on June 11th, 2018

By Shamindra Ferdinando Courtesy The Island

The Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna/Joint Opposition yesterday ruled out the possibility of reunification of SLFP factions under any circumstances.

SLPP Chairman Prof. G.L. Peiris emphasized that the SLFP proposal to field President Maithripala Sirisena as its candidate was not acceptable to the dissident group and therefore that party shouldn’t expect their backing. The SLPP announced its position on the presidential poll, at Nelum Mawatha Office, Battaramulla.

Former External Affairs Minister Prof. Peiris quoted former President Mahinda Rajapaksa as having declared recently that their candidate would be announced at the appropriate time.

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Prof. Peiris said so when The Island asked him whether the SLPP/JO would field its own Presidential candidate. Referring to statements made by SLFP General Secretary Prof. Rohana Lakshman Piyadasa and SLFP National Organizer Duminda Dissanayake as regards the formation of a broad coalition to back Sirisena at the next presidential poll, Prof. Peiris said that the outcome of the Feb. 10, 2018 Local Government polls indicated the public opinion. A political party in power had never suffered such a humiliating electoral defeat, Prof. Peiris said, urging the SLFP to review its strategies or face the consequences.

Of 95 lawmakers elected and appointed to parliament at Aug. 17, 2015 parliamentary polls, 41 (39 SLFP and two Ceylon Workers Congress) comprised the group loyal to President Sirisena. Although 16 of the SLFPers in Sirisena’s camp had formed a separate group, it remained with the ruling SLFP.

The SLFP and the UNP seemed still unable to grasp the ground situation, Prof. Peiris said, pointing out that in spite of much publicized appointment of office bearers of the party, key SLFPers were pulling in different directions.

Prof. Peiris said that Ministers Duminda Dissanayake and Mahinda Amaraweera continued to call the shots and Prof. Piyadasa lacked the required authority though being appointed General Secretary of the party.

The former minister asked how the SLFP even contemplated bringing all factions together in the wake of both National Organizer Dissanayake and UPFA General Secretary Amaraweera reiterating their commitment to yahapalana partnership with the UNP. Prof. Peiris insisted that there couldn’t be any dialogue between SLPP/JO with the SLFP as long as the SLFP protected the UNP. Prof. Peiris pointed out that Messrs Dissanayake and Amaraweera had very clearly contradicted Prof. Piyadasa as regards future co-operation with the UNP.

In response to The Island queries raised after the conclusion of the media briefing, Prof. Peiris said that especially after President Sirisena’s onslaught directed at the UNP on May 30, the SLFP couldn’t continue with the UNP. There couldn’t be two leaders, all elected and appointed members would have to decide soon whether they accepted former President Rajapaksa’s leadership.

Prof. Peiris said that those who had exercised their franchise in support of the SLPP at the Local Government polls wouldn’t like the party to throw its weight behind Sirisena’s candidature. Now that the SLFP had decided to remain in partnership with the UNP in spite of that party declaring its intention to field Ranil Wickremesinghe at the next presidential poll, there couldn’t be any justification in prolonging their ‘marriage.’

Prof. Peiris said that the SLFP had been in difficult times over the years though the party always managed to bounce back. The current situation could be described as the worst ever crisis experienced by the party due to poor management skills and shortsighted policies and strategies.

Prof. Peiris said that the Group of 16 comprising of SLFP lawmakers who voted for JO-led No Confidence Motion (NCM) against PM Wickremesinghe on April 4, 2018 couldn’t delay taking a decision now. The former minister said that as long as members of the Group of 16 functioned as SLFP office bearers, they, too, were responsible for deteriorating national economy.

In fact, they owed an explanation to the public why a final decision couldn’t be taken after President Sirisena not only accused the UNP leadership of perpetrating treasury bond scams but making a deplorable bid to undermine the entire state banking sector, Prof. Peiris said.

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