President Maithripala Sirisena yesterday said that the UNP-SLFP coalition government had saved Sri Lanka from punitive international sanctions by ending the authoritarian Rajapaksa rule in January 2015.
Addressing the 66 anniversary of the SLFP at Campbell Park, Colombo, President Sirisena asserted that their partnership was primarily meant to address international concerns.
President Sirisena said that if not for the UNP-SLFP coalition, the international community would have imposed economic sanctions on Sri Lanka. According to him, the change of government had taken place at a time when the international community was on the verge of taking action against the previous administration.
Commenting on foreign NGO moving court in Brazil against former Army Commander and Sri Lanka’s Ambassador there General Jagath Jayasuriya on the eve of his departure after completing a two-year term in respect of his conduct during his tenure as Security Forces Commander, Vanni, President Sirisena reiterated his commitment to protecting the interests of those who had fought for the country. President Sirisena said that he wouldn’t dance to the tune of NGOs.
Fifty three Joint Opposition (JO) members of Parliament, including former President Mahinda Rajapaksa elected on the UPFA ticket at the last parliamentary poll in Aug 2015 boycotted yesterday’s event. The group included members of the National Freedom Front (NFF), left parties, Pivithuru Hela Urumaya and MEP elected on the UPFA ticket.
The UNP, TNA and SLMC were represented at the meeting.
Responding to JO declaration that its members wouldn’t join the SLFP as long as it remained in government with the UNP, Sirisena said the two major political parties had no option but to get together to save the country from international forces. Had former President Mahinda Rajapaksa taken his advice in April 2014 seriously to launch the much-needed political and electoral reforms following the conclusion of the war that government could have been saved, President Sirisena said. President Sirisena said advice given in his capacity as the SLFP General Secretary could have certainly changed the situation. Unfortunately, the former leader had ignored the need for changes, the President said, adding that as the common candidate he had received nearly 20 per cent of SLFP votes at the last presidential polls.
President Sirisena claimed that the country had faced an extremely hostile international environment in 2013-2014 period. Comparing the challenges faced by his government, President asserted that unemployment, the cost of living and other domestic issues were manageable compared with the crisis faced on the international front.
The SLFP Leader said the international community really appreciated the UNP and the SLFP taking common stand on national issues in post-war era.