Electoral pact with SLFP possible: JVP

by Namini Wijedasa
Although the SLFP-JVP alliance under negotiation for the past several months has broken down, a senior JVP spokesman yesterday confirmed that an electoral arrangement between the two parties remains a firm possibility in the event of a poll.

"While we will not enter into an alliance at present, we will cooperate with each other at any future election," this source said.

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka Freedom Party frontliner Mangala Samaraweera confirmed yesterday that the two parties had decided "not to waste any more time on the path we had been following".

He observed, however, that they may recommence negotiations this time to topple the government in parliament and to constitute a fresh regime without going in for elections. .

"For this... of course, we will need the support of members of the ruling party," Samaraweera admitted. "But we feel we can muster it, especially when the budget starts in November."

"...we feel that it is becoming a real possibility," he asserted.

Samaraweera has in the past engineered several SLFP/PA plots to woo over disgruntled members of the government. S.B. Dissanayake was the last UNF member to claim such an effort. He said a team lead by Samaraweera had visited him with a proposition.

Samaraweera told Sunday Island that the JVP and SLFP had originally decided to try a few options. The first was forming a direct electoral alliance while another was toppling the government through parliament.

"We will now explore the possibility of forming a different kind of alliance," he elaborated. "We can work together to topple this government without taking an election into account."

"It was understood that if we could not agree on the parameters of a broad framework, we would discuss other options," he continued. "We both felt strong in our positions on devolution and the logistics of forming an alliance."

Political sources indicated that even if the two parties do topple the UNF regime and a new government is formed, the Marxists will not hold cabinet posts.

The last discussions fell through after the JVP adopted a hard-line on negotiating a peace deal with the LTTE. The Marxist party had been strongly critical of the concessions that have been made in the interest of peace and has charged that the national cause has been subverted as a result.

The major problem has been on the lack of agreement on the devolution of real power without which any peace deal will not be possible. Influential sections of the SLFP and the president are convinced that it is essential for any future SLFP-led government to keep realistic peace negotiation options open.

Sections of the SLFP led by Anura Bandaranaike favoured a deal with the JVP on the terms pushed by that party.

"The LTTE are already making salt and selling it at Elephant Pass (as reported in the TamilNet web site)," the JVP source said. "Foreign supporters of the peace process are not disinterested parties. They are looking at various resources, including ilmenite in the northeast for themselves."