UPFA General Secretary Susil Premjayantha and National Freedom Front (NFF) leader Wimal Weerawansa yesterday said that incumbent President Mahinda Rajapaksa was capable of securing a third term hands down regardless of who challenged him at the next presidential election.
Addressing the media at SLFP headquarters yesterday afternoon, they said the UPFA was confident of a comfortable victory at the forthcoming poll.
The media briefing was held about two hours before former SLFP General Secretary Maithripala Sirisena, MP, announced his candidature as the common candidate.
In answer to a query, the ministers said that Maithripala Sirisena had been with the top SLFP and UPFA leaderships on both Wednesday and Thursday. In fact, Sirisena, in his capacity as the SLFP General Secretary had informed the UPFA of the decision of the SLFP central committee to unanimously nominate Mahinda Rajapaksa as the UPFA candidate. Sirisena had been with the UPFA leaders on Thursday night, they said.
However, in his opening remarks, Minister Premjayantha recalled the circumstances under which a former SLFP General Secretary and 12 others had switched their allegiance to the UNP leading to the collapse of the then President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga’s government.
Asked by The Island whether Minister Premjayantha was referring to the then SLFP General Secretary S.B. Dissanayake and Maithripala Sirisena’s unexpected move made him the second SLFP General to quit the party at a crucial time, the UPFA General Secretary answered in the affirmative.
Some of those who had deserted the party and switched their allegiance to the UNP in 2007 had subsequently returned to the SLFP, the minister said, adding that one of them never returned to Parliament.
Minister Premjayantha reacted angrily when the media queried the absence of SLFP General Secretary Maithripala Sirisena at such an important media briefing. The minister stressed that he could respond on behalf of the SLFP.
Recollecting threats experienced by the SLFP over a period of time with the focus on the assassination of the then Premier S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike on Sept. 26, 1956, Minister Premjayantha said that those who had conspired to assassinate the PM could have used a criminal or a professional assassin. Instead, their strategy was meant to cause chaos by using a Buddhist monk, the minister said, asserting that the current Opposition mission too, seemed aimed at plunging the country into crisis.
Minister Premjayantha alleged that a despicable attempt was being made to undermine President Rajapaksa’s government. The minister said that the Opposition had been pursuing a strategy with destructive intentions, though unlike in 1956 an assassin wasn’t involved in the project.
Minister Weerawansa said that having lost the Nov. 2005 presidential poll to President Mahinda Rajapaksa, the UNP leader Wickremesinghe was reluctant to face Rajapaksa at January 2010 poll. The so-called joint Opposition which included the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) backed one-time army commander General Sarath Fonseka at the 2010 poll, Weerawansa said. The minister highlighted the TNA throwing its weight behind the senior most officer who had executed the eelam war IV against the Commander-in-Chief.
Weerawansa said that no matter who challenged the President, the incumbent leader would secure a third term.
Responding to a query, the minister said that Wickremesinghe would have definitely contested if he was confident of victory. The minister ridiculed the UNP for failing to field a candidate of its own to face President Rajapaksa.
Weerawansa urged the JHU to realize what he called an international conspiracy meant to destabilize post-war Sri Lanka. The former JVP heavyweight said that they had a responsibility to protect national interests.
The JHU fired the first salvo early this week by giving up ministerial portfolios.
Minister Premjayantha said that the JHU remained with the UPFA though it had given up ministerial portfolios. The minister alleged that it was unfair on the part of the JHU to demand far reaching constitutional amendments in the run-up to the presidential poll. The minister emphasised that the SLFP General Secretary informed the JHU in writing that its demands couldn’t met before the January poll.
Weerawansa said that the people would re-elect President Rajapaksa.
Courtesy: The Island