Former President Chandrika Kumaratunga yesterday cast her lot against her party’s candidate and presidential successor Mahinda Rajapaksa, indirectly urging Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) supporters to vote against him at the 17 August election.
Breaking her silence three weeks into the parliamentary election campaign, which has been marked by Rajapaksa’s reentry, former President Kumaratunga hinted at extensive soul searching ahead of her blazing criticism of the former President’s candidacy.
“After profound contemplation, it is my conclusion that in order to protect the party, we must first rebuild the country,” Kumaratunga said in a four-page statement, entitled ‘The forthcoming election and the future of the country’.
“Safeguarding the 8 January victory is essential,” President Kumaratunga said.
In her clarion call, the former President said that forces attempting to destroy the golden opportunity to rebuild the country must be defeated at the forthcoming poll.
Addressing SLFP supporters directly, the former President said there was a crucial decision facing the party.
“Will we side with the group that is seeking to destroy our party’s noble policies and ruin the country once again, or will we work with the group working towards the country’s victory and has the vision and dedication to make it happen?” Kumaratunga asks in her poignant statement.
Kumaratunga appealed to all SLFP supporters to cast aside cast and creed differences to protect the freedoms won on 8 January.
The former President said her commitment to the SLFP remained unchanged. “Precisely for this reason, I am eternally committed to strengthening our party’s pure policies and establishing a civilised Government through such reform.
Kumaratunga said she was disappointed with SLFP seniors. “I am upset that seniors in the SLFP don’t seem to want to reform the party. It shows their own state of ruin,” she said in the statement.
The former President said she had watched her presidential successor ruining the SLFP and the country with increasing distress in her retirement. It had forced her to join the movement for change in January, she said.
“I made a decision to join hands with the forces that were fighting to restore people friendly, clean governance to a country that had been turned into a playground for a single family and their best cronies, that were abusing state power and resources in criminal ways,” President Kumaratunga said.
The former President said that the entire country had been fortunate enough to enjoy the fruits of good governance following the victory of 8 January.
“It is the citizens’ misfortune that the defeated ruler was waiting in the wings to stage an ugly counterrevolution,” Kumaratunga said.
She said the new Government had made significant strides in restoring democracy and the rule of law and combating corruption in the country.