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Sunday, 10 May 2015





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No compromise

Mahinda-Maithripala talks end in stalemate, as MR’s quest for PM candidacy shot down:

The much hyped talks between President Maithripala Sirisena and former President Mahinda Rajapaksa ended in a stalemate on Wednesday with both parties failing to reach a compromise on their most vital proposal - to nominate former President Rajapaksa as the UPFA Prime Ministerial candidate at the next General Election and the other requests.

President Maithripala Sirisena meets former President Mahinda Rajapaksa at the President’s office in Parliament.

Both parties agreed to discuss the issues, which cropped up at the inaugural meeting of the Central Committee on the future well-being of the party.

Government sources confirmed President Sirisena had come to his Parliament office around 12.45 pm while former President Rajapaksa had reached the venue at 1.45 p.m. Reliable sources confirmed that the former President had arrived deliberately late to express his displeasure over two representatives who had accompanied the President for the discussion.

The media earlier reported that SLFP General Secretary, MP Anura Priyadharshana Yapa and SLFP National organiser, Susil Premjayatha would be in the President’s delegation, but at the eleventh hour Ministers M K A D S. Gunawardena and Duminda Dissanayake had also accompanied President Sirisena.

The meeting lasted for around 45 minutes and following the talks, President Sirisena left the Parliamentary complex before former President Rajapaksa.

Five factors

Former President Rajapaksa’s delegation comprised UPFA Parliamentarians Prof. G.L. Peiris, Kumara Welgama, Bandula Gunawardane, Dullas Alahapperuma and Mahindananda Aluthgamage while President Sirisena’s included Opposition Leader Nimal Siripala de Silva, Ministers Dr.Rajitha Senaratne, M.K.A.D.S. Gunawardena, Duminda Dissanayake, SLFP General Secretary MP Anura Priyadharshana Yapa and MP Faiszer Musthapha.

The five factors of the former President included the Prime Ministerial candidacy, issue relating to the dissolution of Local Government Bodies on May 15, contesting the next General Election under the UPFA banner, nominations to candidates and the alleged politicisation of the Financial Crimes Investigation Division (FCID). Though the discussions ended without a satisfactory outcome, both sides reached a consensus to discuss the matters within the SLFP Central Committee in the future. The former President’s delegation stressed the need for cooperation and collaboration with other parties in the UPFA.

Despite the deliberate attempts by the pro-Rajapaksa faction to pressurise the party hierarchy to nominate former President Rajapaksa as the UPFA Prime Ministerial candidate, their hopes were shattered as President Sirisena had categorically announced the party’s decision not to nominate a Prime Ministerial candidate before the next General Election.

The President made his position very clear on the disadvantages of nominating a Prime Ministerial candidate prior to the election which would have a negative impact on the party’s vote base. Cabinet Spokesman and Health Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne at a media briefing in Colombo the following day said the failure and shortcomings of former President Rajapaksa will be subject to scrutiny by the SLFP Central Committee when the proposal to nominate him as the UPFA Prime Ministerial candidate is taken up for discussion.

The President was also of the view that there was no tradition within the SLFP to appoint a Prime Ministerial candidate so that the matter will be referred to the SLFP Central Committee. Dr.Senaratne emphasised since Maithripala Sirisena is the President, it won’t be a matter who becomes the Premier. However, the Minister pointed out it was an irony for the former President to requested the Prime Ministerial candidacy from the very same person whom he refused to appoint as Prime Minister.

Even though the discussion was held behind closed doors a large number of journalists had flocked to the main Parliament entrance at Jayanthipura to obtain first hand information on the outcome of the talks.

Delegations which represented both sides aired their views to the media on the decisions reached at the talks. Irrigation Minister Duminda Dissanayake who represented the delegation of the President told journalists the discussions were successful. The discussion was centred on issues of the SLFP and its forward march, he said.

Minister Dissanayake who categorically rejected reports on divisions within the party stressed there were no two camps such as Maithri and Mahinda within the SLFP and the talks were conducted between the party Chairman and the Patron. “It was a very cordial and successful discussion,” he told the media.

Minister Dissanayake assured the SLFP will not be split and there is no reason for it. The Party’s Chairman is the country’s President while former President Mahinda Rajapaksa as the Patron is actively involved in party activities. “Former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga is also a Patron of the party and she is also committed to carry out the party mechanism. All party members are bound to act according to the decisions taken by the SLFP Central Committee.” He recalled how they adhered to the principles when former President Mahinda Rajapaksa was the Party Chairman and also assured that they would follow suit under the chairmanship of the incumbent President Maithripala Sirisena.


Although Minister Dissanayake said talks were successful, UPFA Parliamentarian Dullas Alahapperuma who represented the former President told the media that discussion ended in a stalemate and that talks would continue. Alahapperuma said the purpose of the discussion was to strengthen the SLFP based on five major points put forward by them which also included the nomination of former President as the UPFA Prime Ministerial candidate.

The pro-Rajapaksa group said their objective is to form a SLFP led UPFA Government after the next General Election.

They requested the President to put forward the Prime Ministerial candidate issue to the SLFP Central Committee. MP Alahapperuma was hopeful they would be able to fulfill this aspiration as it was the wish of the people. Even though a full agreement was not reached at the both factions agreed to continue the talks for the victory of the UPFA.

While MP Alahapperuma told the media that a decision was taken to withdraw the gazette notification on the Financial Crimes Investigation Division (FCID), the Government Ministers who joined the talks on behalf of President Sirisena categorically rejected the comment made by the MP.


Kalutara District UPFA Parliamentarian Kumara Welgama who was instrumental of preparing the groundwork for the discussion told journalists that they failed to get a satisfactory response to their much anticipated Prime Ministerial candidate issue and the dissolution of Local Government bodies.

MP Welgama was optimistic that they would receive a positive response from the party hierarchy on the Prime Ministerial candidate at future talks. Although both parties agreed to hold another round of talks the date has not been fixed.

The MP maintained the view if both factions can reach a compromise on the Prime Ministerial candidate issue, it would help solve other internal issues in the party. The MPs who accompanied former President had also proposed to allow the former President to handle the UPFA election campaign and include him in the UPFA Nomination Board.

MP Welgama who described himself as a hardcore SLFPer said his aim is to solve the internal crisis in the party. However, this kind of issues cannot be dragged on and a compromise should be reached soon, he said. The pro-Rajapaksa faction said they would go ahead with their plan to hold political rallies. MP Welgama said if the discussion ended on a a positive note their aim is to bring former President Rajapaksa and incumbent President Sirisena and all other UPFA leaders on to one political stage. Although Minister Duminda Dissanayake attempted to convince that there is no division within the SLFP, MP Welgama told journalists the people were well aware that two factions are currently operating within the SLFP.

The issue on political rallies organised by certain UPFA coalition partners demanding the nomination of former President as the Prime Ministerial candidate was taken up for discussions. A consensus had been reached that SLFP Parliamentarians would not take part in rallies following the decision taken by the SLFP Central Committee. A senior SLFP Minister who represented the President’s delegation said the former President’s faction too didn’t oppose this proposal made by President Sirisena’s faction.


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