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UPFA finalizes list, UNP starts on Monday
Elephant – Swan tussle still unresolved

The Elephant vs Swan tussle remains alive and kicking with both the UNP and the JVP refusing to give in with nominations for the election commencing on February 19.

The government side has nearly finalized its list of candidates with three nomination boards chaired by Ministers Nimal Siripala de Silva, Anura Priyadharsana Yapa and W.D.J. Seneviratne completing their task.

Their lists have now gone to an appeal board chaired by Prime Minister, Ratnasiri Wickremanayake, the SLFP’s Administrative Secretary, H. Ariyasena said yesterday.

"Our Working Committee unanimously decided that we must run on the Elephant symbol and we have asked the JVP to agree to this," UNP General Secretary Tissa Attanayake said.

He said that their nomination board chaired by party leader Ranil Wickremesinghe will begin work at party headquarters from Monday morning.

Other members of the nomination board are Messrs. Karu Jayasuriya, Rukman Senanayake, Gamini Jayawickrema Perera , Imtiaz Bakeer Markar and D.M. Swaminathan.

At a meeting of the UPFA parliamentary group held at Temple Trees on Wednesday, President Mahinda Rajapaksa stressed the need for discipline among UPFA candidates during the campaign and said that internecine rivalry in campaigning for preference votes would not be countenance, party sources said.

They said that Mr. Basil Rajapaksa who sat in the last parliament as a National List MP will lead the Gampaha District list of the UPFA.

Vice Admiral (Retd.) Sarath Weerasekera relinquished office as Director General of the Civil Defence Force last week to run in the Ampara District on the UPFA ticket.

Minister Janaka Bandara Tennakoon who is pushing the candidature of his son, Pramitha, an Attorney-at-Law, was yesterday hopeful that the SLFP would revoke its rule that does not permit a father and son to run for election on its ticket.

Dr. Rajitha Senaratne, who defected from the UNP and accepted cabinet appointment in the government said that his group has won assurances from Mr. Basil Rajapaksa that two former senior UNPers, Ministers M.H. Mohamed and Dharmadasa Banda who also joined the government after being elected on the UNP ticket would be accommodated on the UPFA national list.

The remaining 12 UNP MPs who defected in 2006 and were appointed SLFP organizers have applied for SLFP nomination to that party’s General Secretary, Maitripala Sirisena paying what one candidate said was an ``aeministrative charge’’ of Rs. 1,000 each.

MEP leader Dinesh Gunawardena has requested nine slots in the Colombo, Gampaha, Kurunegala, Hambantota, Anuradhapura, Badulla, Kandy, Nuwara Eliya and Digamadulla districts and one place on the national list.

The JHU has requested five slots in Colombo, Kurunegala, Kalutara and Mahanuwara with only one Buddhist monk, Ven. Athureliya Ratana, contesting from the Gampaha District.

The CWC will run under the UPFA’s betel leaf symbol and has sought nine slots – three in Nuwara Eliya, two in Badulla and one each in Kandy, Matale, Colombo and Ratnapura districts.

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