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Now, Ranil, SF to battle it out in Colombo

UNP’s emissary Wijedasa meets SF at navy headquarters
Anura slams UNP over boru media show,
reiterates call to revive ‘swan’ alliance

With the failure of a last ditch UNP attempt to avert a split in the Opposition votes, UNP and Opposition leader Ranil Wickremesinghe will now face defeated Opposition Presidential candidate General (retd) Sarath Fonseka and National Freedom Front (NFF) leader Wimal Weerawansa for the top spot in the Colombo district.

Athree-cornered contest is expected to dominate the battle for preferential votes in the district which was bagged by President Mahinda Rajapaksa at the January 26 presidential election. The JVP said that Fonseka would lead their candidates contesting Colombo.

Nineteen MPs will be elected from the Colombo District. In keeping with the Parliamentary Elections Act, three candidates more than the actual number of MPs elected to the district will be nominated by each party or each independent group.

Former UPFA National List MP now with the UNP Wijedasa Rajapakshe yesterday told The Island that he had discussed the possibility of the former Army Chief contesting the forthcoming parliamentary polls on the UNP ticket. Responding to our queries, he said that he had raised the issue when he visited Fonseka held at the Navy headquarters on conspiracy charges, in the company of Mrs. Anoma Fonseka.

According to Rajapakshe Fonseka said that he preferred to join the JVP-led Democratic National Alliance (DNA). Rajapakshe said that the question of his joining the DNA could not arise as he was a member of the UNP. Rajapakshe said that he had met Fonseka on behalf of the UNP in the capacity as a lawyer as no other political representative had access to Fonseka in custody.

UNP General Secretary Tissa Attanayake said Rajapakshe had discussed the issue with Fonseka on behalf of the UNP but they were yet to receive a response.

Former JVP MP Samantha Vidyaratne yesterday told The Island that the JVP would seek access to Fonseka before finalizing nominations. He said that they intended to hand over their nominations later this week. He emphasised that the government could not deny them an opportunity to meet Fonseka, though he was being held by the Army on what he termed unsubstantiated conspiracy charges.

JVP heavyweight Anura Kumara Dissanayake yesterday (Feb 21) lashed out at the UNP for having brought down the Opposition alliance, which backed Fonseka at the presidential election.

Speaking on behalf of the JVP politburo, the former Kurunegala District MP said that those who valued democracy should now get together to take on the Rajapaksa regime. Dismissing a recent statement attributed to Tissa Attanayake that the UNP was ready to discuss the possibility of a joint alliance, Dissanayake emphasised the need of the hour was to form a strong alliance to protect democracy. This was the time to take viable action and decisions. There was no use in discussing the issue further, he said.

Dissanayake said that the UNP whose actions had caused the collapse of the Opposition alliance was trying to deceive the public by having what he called ‘media shows.’ He urged the UNP to reverse its decision to go it alone and immediately reach an agreement with political parties which had backed Fonseka at the presidential polls. He reiterated the JVP’s call for fielding candidates under the ‘swan’ symbol thereby ensuring a joint Opposition challenge to what he called the Rajapaksas’ dictatorial regime.

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