President Sirisena to stay clear of election campaigns
By Siva Sivapragasam
The United National Party in Sri Lanka is heading a joint united front comprising of a section of the SLFP, JHU, SLMC, Left parties, some Tamil parties, civil society members and clergy to fight the upcoming parliamentary elections scheduled for August.
A number of parties and organizations that propelled Maithripala Sirisena to the position of Presidency have now joined together under a common banner to contest the elections.
The new front named United National Front for Good Governance (UNFGG) comprises a section of the SLFP, the JHU, SLMC, some Tamil and left parties, civil society organizations and leading members of the clergy. The new front was approved by a special convention of the UNP. The Leader of the UNP and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe addressing the convention said that the UNFGG would contest under the Elephant symbol.
Mr. Wickremesinghe asserted that the new United Front will thwart attempts by corrupt and criminal elements who were rejected by the people on January 8 trying to reverse the path of good governance and rule of law which had been re-established by the current National Government.
He also announced that the Financial Crimes Investigation Unit (FCIU) would be made law so that the ongoing investigations into the massive pilferage of state funds under the Rajapaksa regime could continue unhindered.
“Our peoples program would include the creation of one million jobs, 48 economic zones and development of the health and education sectors. The University Grants Commission would be abolished and a University Development Board established. We will also provide one million rupees plus Rs.25,000 for funeral expenses to immediate family members in case of the death of a three wheel taxi driver, ” the Prime Minister said.
The Finance Minister predicted that the UNFGG would not only win the Kurunegala District which former President Mahinda Rajapaksa is contesting , but also secure two thirds of the seats in the next Parliament.
Leader of the SLMC and Urban Development Minister Rauff Hakeem said on Friday said that his party backed by an Eastern Province based organization campaigning for good governance had entered into an MOU with the UNP to contest the General Election.
Political pundits predict that the TNA would also give support to the new front if it wins the elections. The TNA is expected to win most of the seats in the Northern Province and a good number in the East as well.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, in an interview with the prestigious Indian newspaper “Hindu” remarked that President Sirisena will stay clear of the election campaign and will probably not take part in any of the election meetings of the UPFA. He also remarked that though President Sirisena is the Party President, he does not have full control of the party.
President Sirisena is certainly having his hand close to his chest and keeping silent on the recent election manouvers.
A wag described the elections scenario in Sri Lanka as “politics in a pickle”