Maithri and Mahinda to come together for final talks
Posted on July 28th, 2019

BY GAGANI WEERAKOON Courtesy Ceylon Today

Archbishop of Colombo Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith feared that the investigations into the 21 April Easter Sunday bombings would be swept under the carpet and added that the attacks were part of an ‘international conspiracy’.

Cardinal Ranjith was addressing a special mass at the newly renovated Katuwapitiya Roman Catholic Church, where some 115 persons perished and scores of others were injured as an Islamic Jihadist carried out a bloody suicide bomb attack.

He said, the political leaders have failed in their duty and are more interested in meeting the agendas of their foreign masters.

He added that the 21 April attacks were purely an international conspiracy that favours human rights defenders and Non-Governmental Organisations, and the Government should not support their agendas.

Even before the Easter Sunday attacks, the extremists had emerged in Mawanella and Wanathawillu but the Government and the State security agencies did very little to arrest the growing trend.

More recently, a Special Human Rights Envoy from the United Nations (UN) was in the country but instead of visiting the survivors and victims of the 21 April attacks he had opted to look into the welfare of the Islamic Jihadists currently in custody and Dr. Shafi Shiabdeen. The UN works to a particular agenda and this Body thinks it could control the entire world,” the Cardinal said.

He added that the National Security Council has not convened since October 2018.

The Muslim community in the country should not be penalised or made to feel guilty over the Easter Sunday carnage.

These attacks were carried out by a small group of misled youth, who were a part of a wider international conspiracy with a draconian agenda,” Cardinal Ranjith said.

Lotus-bud to bloom

The first invitation to the National Convention of the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) was ceremonially handed over to Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa last morning at his Wijerama Mawatha residence.

The SLPP signed a Memorandum of Understanding with 10 recognised political parties that are not represented in Parliament. The MoU was signed under the auspices of Leader of the Opposition Mahinda Rajapaksa at his official residence at Wijerama Mawatha, Colombo. The event was named Susanyogaya”. The MoU was signed by the United Tamil Freedom Front, Ceylon Workers United Front, Mawbima Janatha Party, Illawar Democratic Front, Nawa Sinhala Urumaya, Muslim Ulama Party, Democratic National Movement, Bhumi Puthra Party, the Liberal Party and the United Lanka Maha Sabhawa. Four parties that supported the United National Front in the 2015 Presidential Election were also among the parties that signed the MoU.

Speaking at the event, Rajapaksa said that it is their duty to defeat the Government on behalf of the unborn generations as they are destroying and selling off land in the country. He further said that when the Government sold the port saying that they had a rock in the middle of it, for billions of rupees, that they had not paid the loans back.

The Opposition Leader further said that no one knows what was done with this money because Ranil Wickremesinghe got a Minister from the SLFP to sell off the port.

He says that when Arjuna Ranatunga had refused to sign the document, Wickremesinghe got a Minister from the SLFP to sign it. Further, former President said that although the 19th Amendment was introduced the President claims to not even see it, while also saying that there were many reasons to conduct the process of approval under wraps which ultimately swung back to the UNP who are now trying to bring in the 20th Amendment.

He added that the Government does not have the right to change the Constitution again and that their Government which would come to power next will be the one that holds the right to amend the Constitution again.

Meanwhile, Parliamentarian Chamal Rajapaksa said that he has still not taken a firm decision on contesting the forthcoming Presidential Poll.

He made this remark when journalists sought his views on Wednesday (24) on whether he had taken a decision on contesting the next Presidential Poll.

Meanwhile, former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa who was in Singapore after undergoing surgery returned home on 23 July night.

Walking down memory lane

Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and President Maithripala Sirisena were seen together at two separate events last Friday (26).  Both were present at the Khettarama R. Premadasa Stadium where thousands of cricket fans gathered to bid adieu to legendary fast bowler Lasith Malinga as he played his last ODI. 

Earlier of the day the duo along with Speaker Karu Jayasuriya was seen taking a trip down memory lane at the maiden exhibition of the Photojournalists Association of Sri Lanka (PASL) titled ‘Mass Media Photo Exhibition’ at the J. D. A. Perera Art Gallery at Horton Place.

President Sirisena and Opposition Leader Rajapaksa were recalling to memory and describing each photograph with additional background stories to others including Speaker Jayasuriya. Rajapaksa was all smiles when the two of them stood in front of a photograph in which handcuffed MP Namal Rajapaksa was seen being escorted by law enforcement authorities. He must have told the President something like Oh this was when your Government arrested my son, Namal.”

Seeking divine help

While the two leaders were busy, attending various events in the country, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and his wife Maithree Wickremesinghe performed ‘Nava Chandi Homa’ and offered special prayers to Goddess Sri Mookambika at Kollur on Friday.

Due to inclement weather, Wickremesinghe, accompanied by an eight-member team, had to travel by road from Mangalore International Airport. The entourage was accorded a grand welcome on the Mookambika Temple premises by Udupi Deputy Commissioner Hephsiba Rani Korlapati, SP Nisha James, officials and temple representatives, Indian media reported

Wickremesinghe and his wife Maitree reached Kollur at 11:10 a.m. and were whisked to the RNS Guest House. He arrived at the temple at 11:30 am and took part in the religious rituals held inside the temple. Maithree is said to be the devotee of the Goddess.

Later, the temple’s Chief Priest Dr K.N. Narasimha Adiga, under whose guidance the Homa was performed, told media persons that the Sri Lankan Premier performed the ‘Nava Chandi Homa’. The homa had begun on Thursday at 8 a.m. and the ‘Purnahuti’ (end of Homa) was performed at 12 noon on Friday.

He offered ‘Mahapooje’ to the Goddess after participating in Purnahuti. The Sri Lankan Prime Minister prayed for the welfare of his people in his country. He also prayed for peace and prosperity of the country. He also prayed for a better political future. He promised to visit the temple again after some time,” Dr. Adiga has said.

The couple participated in the ‘Rathothsava’. An ‘Archane’ in the name of the couple was also performed. Dr. Adiga said Kollur Mookambika Temple and Shankari Devi shrine in Sri Lanka are parts of Shakthi Peeta. Both are essential parts of the Mukhya Peeta. Both the Peetas have their own significance. Both India and Sri Lanka share a bonding since the times of Ramayan,” he added.

Wickremesinghe was also accompanied by PSO Ashoka Yatigammana, Sergeant PMSD, Sunil Ratnayake, Physician Dr. Sanka Gunavardhane, Deputy High Commissioners from Chennai V. Krishnamurthy and Yasontha D’Silva. The couple was at the temple for an hour and were served delicious prasadam at the guest house.

The couple left the temple immediately after the pooja and after staying at the guest house for some time. They departed at 2 p.m. En-route, Wickremesinghe had boarded a helicopter at Areshiroor and proceeded to Kasargod. Tight security was in place all along from the airport to Kollur and all the establishments were shut down as a precautionary measure. Wickremesinghe had visited the temple and had participated in the ‘Shata Chandi Havana’ in November 2017.

PM Wickremesinghe’s visit to India for religious rituals incidentally falls in the same time the opposition against his presidential candidacy within the party is also on the rise.

The UNP Parliamentarians’ Group Meeting last week reportedly reached explosive levels with UNP Chiarman Minister Kabir Hashim saying Deputy Leader Sajith Premadasa should be nominated as the presidential candidate because the UNP could not afford to lose this time.

Hashim is reported to have taken a swipe at the party hierarchy for planning to form an alliance with the like-minded parties without his knowledge and said he learned about such an alliance through the media.

However, Prime Minister Wickremesinghe responded saying that Hashim was privy to talks conducted in this regard.

Several Ministers including Ranjith Madduma Bandara, Ashok Abeysinghe, Harin Fernando and Eran Wickramaratne are said to have expressed their support to the views expressed by Hashim.

Wickremesinghe said he would take a decision at the right time after consulting the other party leaders.

Meanwhile, a group of UNP Ministers are planning to initiate a peaceful intervention, at the inauguration of the new UNP-led alliance, known as the Democratic National Front (DNF), on 5 August, to make Deputy Leader Sajith Premadasa the candidate for the next presidential poll, sources at Sirikotha claimed.

They said, on that date these UNP Ministers are planning to bring down scores of Party supporters to the Sugathadasa Stadium, to exert pressure on the party leadership to make Premadasa the presidential candidate.

Minister Kabir Hashim had, at a recent meeting at Sirikotha, proposed that Premadasa be made the candidate. He was backed by Ministers Malik Samarawickrama, Harin Fernando, Thalatha Atukorale, Sujeewa Senasinghe, and Ajith P. Perera.

However, during that meeting, Minister Ravi Karunanayake had insisted that the UNP candidate has to be the choice of a majority of Party members.

 Meanwhile, it has been decided to give the reins of the soon to be formed Democratic National Front (DNF) to UNP Leader Wickremesinghe. Source said that it has also been proposed to appoint Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratna, who had worked tirelessly from behind the scenes towards the formation of the new political alliance as its Secretary. However, this proposal has not been received too well by the party strongmen.

Maithri and Mahinda to meet

Meanwhile, President Sirisena, and Opposition Leader Rajapaksa are to meet soon for bilateral talks in a bid to iron out several key issues. The meeting was discussed at the SLFP Central Committee meeting last week, in which several senior SLFP members have pointed out that they are losing strong SLFP Parliamentarians to the SLPP increasingly.

They have also pointed out that if this continues the plight of the Party will be in dire situation, thus needs to address it soon.

President Sirisena on the other hand, has instructed the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) to seek the opinion of the Supreme Court on the order of conducting the upcoming provincial council and presidential election.

These instructions had been issued during SLFP Central Committee meeting, UPFA General Secretary Mahinda Amaraweera said.

During the meeting, the President, who is also Chairman of the SLFP, had pointed out that the Elections Commission has been insisting that the provincial polls should be held first. Meanwhile, President Sirisena had also advised his party members to continue their talks with the SLPP, in order to face the elections as an alliance under a common banner.

 BY GAGANI WEERAKOON 02:00 AM Jul 28 2019

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