Presidential election :

UNP not averse to forming Common Opposition Front

by Zacki Jabbar

The UNP said yesterday that it had not ruled out the possibility of contesting the next Presidential and Parliamentary elections in alliance with not only other Opposition parties, but some who are currently part of the UPFA government.

 Senior UNP sources told the "Sunday Island" that some comments made by their leader Ranil Wickremesinghe at last weeks parliamentary group meeting had been construed to mean that the UNP had taken a firm decision to contest the next national level poll on its own.

"To begin with the proceedings lasted for about five minutes. At the outset some MPs questioned Mr. Wickremesinghe as to what they should say, since various people were asking them whether the UNP would contest the next Presidential election on its own or as part of a Common Front. He responded by drawing their attention to a Working Committee(WC) decision taken some time back that the party would contest all future polls under its elephant symbol.

But at no stage did he rule out the formation of broad UNP led opposition alliance. The Rajapaksa regime by its contradictory statements from time to time , he pointed out, was trying to distract them from the real issues facing the country such as the unbearable cost of living, rampant corruption at the highest levels, absence of good governance and the rule of law and blatant violation of the human rights of the Sinhalese as well.

``The leader urged the MPs to highlight these issues and force the government into holding national elections. Once that is achieved we could decide on how to contest it, candidates etc., he noted.

``At this stage Thalatha Athukorale said that she had just received an SMS stating that the United Bhikkhu Front wants Maduluwawe Sobitha Thera to be the Common Oppositions presidential candidate. Mr.Wickremesinghe responded saying that that they are entitled to their opinion."

 If the UNP leader had replied the MPs in any other manner, his critics would have accused him of flouting a WC ruling, the sources said.

"At the last Provincial Council polls, some members of other political parties contested under the elephant symbol. So it is quite clear that the UNP is not averse to forming alliances. We are not only in consultation with other opposition parties but also some who are part of the government. It is the Leadership Council in consultation with the WC that determines policy matters and not just the Parliamentary Group. The WC could by consensus or majority vote always change its own decisions."

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