By Shamindra Ferdinando
President Maithripala Sirisena has further consolidated his power with the UPFA’s constituents accepting him as the leader of the SLFP-led alliance.
President Sirisena is the President of the SLFP.
MEP leader Dinesh Gunawardena and Democratic Left Front (DLF) leader Vasudeva Nanayakkara, who had spearheaded popular bring-back-Mahinda campaign, attended a meeting chaired by President Maithripala Sirisena at the Sri Lanka Foundation Institute (SLFP) on Saturday evening to decide unanimously on the UPFA leadership.
Asked whether National Freedom Front (NFF) leader Wimal Weerawansa, MP, had been present at the meeting, an authoritative SLFP official said that the NFF wasn’t a UPFA constituent.
President Maithripala Sirisena explained that he had switched allegiance to the Opposition due to harassment. Declaring that he hadn’t joined the UNP, President Maithripala Sirisena said that he would work for-the SLFP led coalition’s victory at the next parliamentary election.
Responding to a query, President Maithripala Sirisena said that his predecessor Mahinda Rajapaksa could throw his weight behind the campaign spearheaded by the SLFP. The President stressed that he had no problem in the former leader joining the campaign.
The President said that he couldn’t accept on-going efforts to undermine his authority after having given him the leadership.
Well informed political sources told The Island that an understanding between the SLFP and the NFF seemed highly unlikely ahead of the next parliamentary polls. Sources said that Western Provincial Councillor Udaya Gammanpila’s Pivithuru Hela Urumaya, too, appeared to have suffered the same fate as that of the NFF.
Sources said that the UPFA would initially launch a campaign to educate supporters with major rallies planned at a later stage.
Meanwhile, political party leaders met in Colombo yesterday to further discuss Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe’s 19thAmendment to the Constitution, though they couldn’t reach agreement, sources said. The meeting chaired by President Maithripala Sirisena saw some heated exchanges, with the SLFP insisting that its readiness to do away with eight executive powers, including the power to dissolve Parliament or appoint secretaries to ministries was subject to UNP agreeing to implement constitutional reforms simultaneously.
Authoritative sources said that further constitutional changes could be made later. Ministers Patali Champika Ranawaka and Dr. Rajitha Senaratne, too, had opposed the 19thAmendment much to the confusion of the UNP leadership, sources said, adding that an unprecedented crisis was developing.
Sources said that the UNP hadn’t been able to convince President Maithripala Sirisena to dissolve Parliament on April 23.